Brewery 101: Basic Tips to Starting a Home Brewery

Are you passionate about craft ale?

Do you want to join the community of independent brewers?

If yes, you’re in the right place. A microbrewery or home brewery is the key to getting your desires met. It’s an excellent way to begin a rewarding business.

The United States was home to over 7,450 breweries in 2018.

According to the Brewers Association, the figure was way above the 1873 figure of 4,131 breweries. This means that brewing good beer and penetrating the crowded market isn’t easy. Moreover, it takes more than just the two factors to excel in the market.

However, if others successfully began breweries, you can also do the same. What’s important is that you know what a brewery business is all about. You also need a solid business plan for your home brewery business.

Starting a brewery involves lots of delays, turns, surprises, twists, and setbacks, including regulations and coolant pipes. The journey is a hectic ride that easily gets messy.

Although beginning any journey is never easy, starting a home brewery involves lots of intricacies and technical issues, making it a tricky venture. However, you can learn the basics to brewing and easily start your home brewery.

Apart from being passionate about your brewing hobby, you need to learn about the ingredients and processes that go into crafting the best beers. Here’re basic tips you need to start home brewing:

Develop the right skills

Starting a brewery is more than just brewing beer and drinking it. You’ll spend lots of your time daily cleaning and managing your sales, books, customers and vendors.

You may also have to keep your day job and only brew over nights and weekends until you gain good cash flow from your business. Therefore, you need the following skills to start a home brewery:

  • Good record keeping skills
  • Love for beer
  • Sales and marketing skills
  • Cleaning skills
  • Available weekly hours
  • Unique abilities
  • Ability to work for years without making a profit
  • Fund application skills
  • Equipment repair skills

Education and training

You’ve got a lot to learn to succeed in your beer brewing business. If possible, gain some experience working in a brewery before starting yours.

An entry level job that entails cleaning and sterilizing, including other tedious jobs in a brewery will help you master a brewery’s daily routines. You can move up the ranks to develop more advanced job skills you’ll need to start and run a home brewery.

You can also opt for formal training programs such as relevant university degrees if you have enough resources and time. You can receive four-year degrees or certificates in any of the following states:

  • California
  • Michigan
  • Oregon
  • Colorado
  • Missouri

Germany, Belgium and the UK are also home to international schools that offer similar educations and trainings. Free programs and online courses are also available for you.

For instance, Craft Beer provides low-cost and free educational opportunities. On the other hand, Portland State University provides certificate programs targeting a brewery’s business aspects.

Work out your startup costs

Many costs and expenses go into starting a brewery.  You’re bound to incur delays or alterations that can easily bring up unexpected expenses. Generally, starting a small brewery can cost anything from $500,000 to $1 million.

When planning for your brewery, consider the following costs:

  • Building – includes floor reinforcement costs, remodeling to accommodate inspections, pickup and equipment, rental or lease fees, future expansions, and alterations to the water system.
  • Utilities – they include water, energy, telephone, and the internet.
  • Permits and licensing – varies from area to area
  • Insurance – unemployment, business, property, liability, business, compensation of workers
  • Supplies – they include malt, hops, labels, bottles, yeast, and packaging.
  • Professional service – accounting, a mentor or consultant, legal, and marketing services.
  • Furniture – you may use what’s available in your home or buy a few furniture for your home brewery.
  • Electrical equipment – mobile devices such as phones, computers, automated monitoring systems, security cameras, printers and computers.
  • Payroll and ongoing expenses – includes payroll taxes, payroll expenses as salaries, legal services and
  • Software and services – include alarm monitoring, network security, accounting software, website URL and hosting, inventory control system, and credit card processing.
  • Equipment – you’ll require kegs, fermentation tanks, kettles, cooling systems, cleaning equipment, filters, bottling or canning, storage tanks, boilers, pipes, tubing, and waste management systems.

You may also need repair tools and equipment to get your machines back to their working conditions. For instance, the best scroll saws can cut wooden items that need quick repairs.

Develop a business plan

You need a sound business plan to start a successful long-term business. Project over three years of financials in the plan for investors. A bullet-proof financial plan is necessary even if you have your own funding saved somewhere.

Consult a professional to help develop the business plan and offer you legal assistance, financial advice, and ability to obtain funding. Most services go for about $5,000 but worth your money.

Write down details about your business, including costs – startup costs, revenue projections, and expected operational costs. Also include your mission and vision, and other important details that your consultant will need to develop a good business plan.

The plan will detail what’s needed in terms of costs, equipment, and passion for starting a brewery. It’ll help potential investors understand your business.

Fund your microbrewery

Raise capital and plan for unexpected expenses before starting the business. You need experience, good credit and collateral to obtain funding. Some popular funding sources include:

  • Brewery incubators
  • Peer-to-peer
  • Community-supported brewing
  • Crowdfunding
  • Co-op breweries.
  • Local banks
  • SBA(7) loans
  • Factoring or invoice financing
  • Cash advances

Whether you’ve brewed beer before or not, you can start your own brewery canteen. Develop the right skills to start your own craft brewery.

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