Most people start a brewery because they love making craft beer, but let’s be honest, there’s also plenty of money to be made in the industry. There are nearly 10,000 craft breweries in the United States, and that number is growing all the time. They’re continuing to find success because the popularity of craft beer has endured, and is becoming an even larger part of the beer market.
Starting a brewery is full of challenges and rewards. It may take years before you start turning a profit, and as each brewery opens, your competition will only get stronger. That’s why we’ve put together a helpful guide on how to start a brewery that will be successful.
How Hard Is it to Start a Brewery?
Well, it can’t be easy or everyone would be doing it. The difference between a group of friends drinking together and saying “You know what, we should start a brewery,” and a successful business is a whole lot of work. There’s paperwork, financing, relationship building, experimentation, and cleanup. Plenty of cleanup. Opening a brewery can also be highly demanding of your time, especially if you are doing the brewing.
Our first piece of advice on how to start a brewery is to talk to other people in the industry, especially ones who are local. They can give you an idea of the challenges involved in starting a brewery in your town, and they may even introduce you to other people who may be able to help you. When you’re first starting out, making connections and listening to those with experience can be a big help.
How Much Does it Cost to Open a Brewery?
The cost to start a brewery will depend on the size, type, and location that you’ve chosen. You might be able to open a small (or nano) brew operation for about $50,000. Larger breweries can range from $250,000 to $1.5 million when you factor in labor, real estate, and taproom startup costs.
How to Open a Brewery
Identify Your Niche
Before you get too far down the road of opening your own brewery, you’ll want to identify your niche. What is it that your brewery can do that no one else is doing? We’re not saying you have to invent something entirely new, but you should meet a need that the customers in your area just aren’t getting.
Maybe there’s a demographic that isn’t being served by the local craft brew scene, or a style of beer that is missing. People tend to identify strongly with certain craft beer brands, which can inspire loyalty and word-of-mouth advertising. How can you fill a missing niche, and how can you get that message across to your target audience?
Create a Great Brand
Once you’ve identified your niche, it's time to start building a great brand identity around it. Some of the most successful craft brew brands are able to tell a story about their company, its mission, and its history that their customers are able to connect with. Many highlight how they give back to the community, strive for sustainability, and create an inclusive space.
Successful breweries also make a lot of appearances at community events, craft beer competitions, and festivals. They sell (and give away) merchandise with their logo and have staff available that represent their brewery well. This should also be tied to a strong social media presence and a great website.
Develop a Brewery Business Plan
You’ll want your brewery business plan to be as detailed and professional as possible, since that's what you’ll be using to court investors or take out a loan from the bank. But the business plan is also the strategy that will guide you and your team through the initial steps in opening a brewery.
A good brewery business plan should cover your overall goals and strategies for funding, marketing, sales, and more. It should include extensive research into the market, your competition, and any potential challenges to the business. Fortunately, if you’re having trouble creating your brewery business plan, there are experts who can help. You can work with a financial coach or a consultant who has experience in the brewing industry.
Having a great brewery business plan will make it much easier to secure financing from a bank or funding from investors. This will also be an opportunity for you to show how your brewery will fit into your niche and create a brand that your investors can feel confident in. If you can show how your brewery will impact the community through new business and employment, you may be able to obtain grants or other forms of assistance from local business or government groups.
As we said earlier, it can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to start a brewery, so it may take time to secure all the funding that you need. Make sure to keep your business plan updated with the latest market conditions as you look for funding. In a post-pandemic world, expenses like real estate and equipment can fluctuate significantly in just a few months.
Purchase Your Equipment
One of the best parts of opening a brewery is buying all the new equipment you’ll get to use. While it will be one of your biggest expenses, having great brewing equipment that you’ll be able to work well with is crucial to the success of your brewery.
Your equipment will range from the brewing system itself to the kegging, bottling, and canning equipment, as well as the rags, aprons, and gloves. Of course, that’s if you’re sticking to just a brewery. Serving food and drinks in your business opens up an entirely new section of equipment, which will also be a major expense.
Use a Can Seaming Machine to Distribute Your Beer and Sell it To-Go
Once you’ve gotten your feet wet and jumped into the wonderful world of craft brewing, you can grow your business even further. All it takes is a can seaming machine, a cooler, a distribution plan, and your imagination.
Beer canning machines allow you to sell your craft beer to go for people who want to be able to enjoy a can (or a pack) at home. Even more, setting up a distribution plan with your local supermarkets and liquor stores allows you to expand even further, opening up new revenue streams to keep the beer flowing at your brewery.
Order a Can Seamer Today
One of the most important pieces of equipment you can buy for your brewery is a can seamer. Oktober Can Seamers offers high-quality and affordable seamers that will allow you to add to-go sales to your brewery and create a whole new revenue stream.