How To Start Your Own Brewery: 7 Legal Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 31, 2022 | Published March 22, 2021

Updated March 31, 2022

Published March 22, 2021

If you enjoy brewing your own beer and serving customers, consider opening your own brewery. When you start a brewery, design a comprehensive plan that ensures you have the licenses, budget and trademark paperwork needed to run your own successful brewery. Conduct research on your target market, state and federal laws and potential locations before opening your business. In this article, we review the elements needed to start your own brewery.

What does it mean to start your own brewery?

Starting your own brewery means opening a new business and being in charge of responsibilities like buying supplies and equipment, hiring team members and presenting a business plan to investors. Many entrepreneurs choose to start their own brewery, which can make it a challenging industry to pursue. Take time to establish your brand and ensure that the business brings in a steady profit for yourself and those who invest in it.

Related: How To Start Your Own Business in 9 Steps

How to open your own brewery

Starting your own brewery gives you the freedom to work your desired hours and sell drinks and menu items of your creation or choice. Follow these steps to successfully start your own brewery:

1. Select your brewery's concept and niche

There are many different types of breweries that entrepreneurs usually run. Before you plan yours, think about the kind of brewery you hope to open. This also helps you determine your main source of profits and steady income. Deciding on your concept and niche helps you define the type of beer and additional beverages to sell. You can also more accurately predict the costs of supplies and equipment needed to create these drinks. The main types of brewery concepts to consider include:

  • Brewpub: This is a brewery that also acts as a full-service restaurant. Customers can order both food and specialty beers or drinks from your establishment. This type of brewery requires extra funding because it includes a fully staffed kitchen and bar area.

  • Microbrewery: If you'd like to run a smaller business with less than 15,000 barrels of beer to sell each year, then this could be the right choice for you. Microbreweries also sell a majority of their beer offsite at other businesses or events.

  • Brewery: A classic brewery consists of making your own beers with either a limited food option or a full menu. You can offer tours of your brewery and create specialty beers to cater to your customer base.

Related: 7 Types of Businesses To Start (With Tips on How To Choose)

2. Design your business plan

Your brewery's business plan is a document that defines the business and your overall plan to bring in steady revenue. Investors often refer to this plan to ensure the money they spend on your business brings in a strong income. You can also use your business plan as a guide for understanding the purpose of your business and the goals you wish to accomplish. Elements to include in a business plan are:

  • Executive summary: This is the first section readers view, as it summarizes the document and plan you've laid out. It's best to write this after you've completed the remaining sections.

  • Company description and overview: Describe your brewery, including its concept and theme. Expand on the executive summary as well.

  • Menu and beverages: If you're selling food, talk about the food menu items and the style of food available. Discuss the drink menu and various drinks you're creating on your own and any beers or beverages made by other distributors.

  • Management structure: Discuss your plan for the management structure using charts, graphs or other visual aids. Talk about tasks you're responsible for and what you're assigning to managers.

  • Hiring needs: List the number and type of team members you plan to hire for the business to run smoothly. Mention all employees, which may include bartenders, bussers, waiters, tour guides and cooks.

  • Competitor analysis: Research the location of your company to determine the target audience you're primarily selling to. Explain how the service you offer to these audiences compares to competitors.

  • Advertising and marketing strategies: Create comprehensive marketing and advertising strategies, along with a projected budget needed to execute them. Explain how these plans reach your target audience and bring in valuable customers.

  • Final summary and projections: This is a key section for your investors, as it details the sales and revenue forecast. You can also list the amount of funding needed to ensure investors make a strong revenue in exchange for their compensation.

Related: What Is a Business Plan?

3. Name your business

To fill out your business registration documents, you need an official business name. Consider one that's meaningful, personal or a play on words. The name you decide on should be relevant to the business and easy for your customers to recognize and pronounce. Research the name online to ensure another business hasn't claimed it.

Related: How To Choose the Perfect Name for Your Business

4. Register your brewery

You can become a legal business and operate in the country once you register it with your state and apply for your business license. Review your state's guidelines to determine what paperwork you need to submit and how much it costs. Apply for your employee identification number as well, which authorizes you to hire and distribute payment to employees.

5. Apply for the necessary licenses

Many states have different laws regarding the operations of breweries in certain locations. Research your state's regulations to understand the other licenses needed for your brewery. You must receive a Brewer's Notice from the Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau, which legally authorizes you to brew and sell your own beer. You must provide information like labeling, environmental impact and packaging to receive this permit.

New breweries must also earn their alcoholic beverage permit from your state's agency. Research your state's laws to determine their regulations for beverage permits and the application fees you're required to pay.

Related: How To Get Your Business License

6. File a trademark for the brewery's name and beverage names

Filing a trademark means protecting the name of your business or beverages from being stolen by others. Earn one for your business by filling out an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for review. You should receive a response from the examining attorney regarding any objections or conflicts with your name. If there aren't any, then the office registers the mark and prohibits others from using it.

New breweries open regularly and may give their beverages names similar to yours. Choose the names of your beers and the design logos and file for trademarks for each one. Try to submit these several months before your brewery opens or before you release your drink to give the USPTO time to review and approve them.

7. Find a location for your brewery

Find a brewery space and location that complements your niche and preferred atmosphere. It should also fit your future goals for the brewery. For instance, if you have only created a few beers, but hope to continue expanding your product line, find a space that has plenty of room for growth. Review the surrounding area of the building you're interested in as well.

Make sure you're in a location that's guaranteed to bring in plenty of customers, like one that is easily accessible to college students or a large, bustling city. If you're opening your brewery in an area with consistently nice weather, try to find a place with plenty of room outside to set up games, food trucks or activities for customers to enjoy. Look for a place with a patio or room for outside seating and dining as well. Consider picking a place with parking options that are easily accessible to customers as well.

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