Are you planning on setting up a craft brewery? In this article, we will teach how to go from brewing for your enjoyment to making money out of it.
The history of craft beer is a long and exciting one- with so many defining moments that saw it transformed into a staple and profitable business.
Today, what used to be just a hobby has become a very lucrative business for a lot of beer lovers. However, not every potential craft brewer has been successful, as a mix of taste, lack of business acumen, and inadequate research have wiped out some who tried their hands at bottling their own blend.
With over 4000 breweries and still counting, competition is near cutthroat. And, sadly, not everyone gets to lick the foam off the top of their glasses at the end of the night. Still, you can be a success at craft brewing if you take the time and trouble to get the basics right.
Truth be told, you are going to need real passion, know-how, and strong determination if you want to get it right from the start. While it’s true that many craft breweries start as a hobby of sorts, owning a craft beer business will take you full tilt into the business domain involving accountants, government permits, equipment necessary in setting up a craft brewery, as well as knowledge of some basic chemistry.
Basics of Setting Up a Craft Brewery
Here are the basics you need about becoming a proud craft beer brewer:
- Develop the passion: Behind every successful business is a hardworking believer. Don’t start if there is no passion. If you are passionate about craft brewery, you will go the extra mile to achieve greater success. Passion will make you stand strong during challenges, especially in the early days, when it seems all you are doing is cleaning.
- Capital: You are going to need cash to fully start a craft brewing company. Some figures that have been bandied go from $50,000 up to a cool million dollars. Well, you are going to need equipment, space, distribution, etc., and naturally, these cost money. You may get away with starting your craft brewery with something like $100,000 in the bank. It would mean starting with a smaller starter kit, but the opportunity for growth is infinite.
- Learn the Brewing Process: Find a successful brewing company, or even an individual, within your locality and enroll for an internship. Endeavor to undergo special training in all sectors of beer production. Based on your experience, do your research on craft beer production, and how much you will need for that first barrel. This will build your potential towards becoming a better cicerone.
- Try DIY Craft Beer making: You’ve acquired some knowledge about brewing. But hold on, it might not be time yet to go about setting it up. Have a DIY stint instead, by giving it a go at home with a starter pack. Be patient and meticulous as you go about this, as a bad result may well discourage you. Also, note that the result might take a couple of weeks to come out.
Generally, the following guide will stand you in good stead:
- Provide all the necessary apparatus: Materials and equipment required for home beer making includes canning or bottling equipment, siphon hose, Kettles, boilers, cooling systems, filters, storage tanks, tubing, cleaning equipment, kegs, waste management systems, brewing plastic container, clamp for hose, Hydrometer, pipes, reusable beer bottle, fermentation tanks, and cooking pots.
- Provide the necessary ingredient: Visit a brewery shop and buy these recipes for the beer-making: yeast, malt extract, hops, bottles, caps, and priming sugar. Ensure that you purchase these recipes from a good source. Check if the malt extract is rich enough in nutrients before completing your purchase.
- Rewash the equipment: Brewery is all about keeping everything sterile. Boil some water, add a little soapy detergent to the warm water, then use the warm water to wash the equipment thoroughly. Ensure you mix a small quantity of soda to the water and rinse the plastic container. This will enable healthy homemade craft beer. After washing the equipment, allow it to dry before proceeding.
- Brew: To brew, you need to take precautions with all the ingredients. Read the label attached to each material on how to use it before proceeding. Follow this guide to make your beer. Remember, this is the most important step in setting up a craft brewery business.
- Add fresh water into a container: Add some liters of water into the container. The volume of water should depend on the quantity of beer you wish to brew.
- Boil some water: From the plastic container, you can take some quantity of water and boil. Always ensure that the water corresponds with the quantity of beer you’ve in mind. Allow the water to boil for minutes before you add other ingredients.
- Pour the malt extract: When the water is almost at boiling point, add the malt extract. Usually, one can of malt extract goes into seven liters of water. So add the malt extract according to your production quantity. Try not to close the pot after the addition to avoid complications. Stir the added malt extract for 20 minutes before proceeding.
- Allow it to cool off: Remove the pot from the burner and allow it to cool off. At this stage, the boiled brown liquid is known as wort. Pouring the hot brown liquid into the plastic container might damage the container. If you’re in a hurry, you can deploy an artificial cooling method to fasten your process. A cooling system also does the magic very well.
- Transfer the contents into the container: After the cooling, transfer the boiled liquid into the plastic container. Ensure that the container is big enough to contain the liquid.
- Add the yeast: At this stage, you have to add the yeast and stir it for a while. The primary function of the yeast is to convert the boiled brown liquid (wort) into alcohol.
- Seal the plastic container: Sealing the container depends on the type of plastic that you’re using. If you’re using a carboy, seal with a bubbler. If it’s a bucket or a gallon, seal with their cover. The purpose of sealing the container is to allow the yeast to ferment the wort and convert it to alcohol. But carboy is the best container for this process, as it will produce bubbles through the bubbler once the fermentation is over.
- Allow it to ferment: There is every need to allow the sealed container to complete its fermentation process. This will produce an excellent result.
- Dissolve the sugar: Pour the sugar into the boiled water and dissolve. If you wish to share your beer with friends or family members who cannot process sugar, you may cut down the quantity of sugar added to the boiling water. Ensure that you stir the sugar until it dissolves.
- Add sugar to the beer: After boiling the sugar for a while, add the sugar to the fermented beer. After the addition, the production process is over.
- Packaging: Get about 80 recycled bottles or more depending on the quantity of beer produced. Rinse the bottles very well with clean water and allow them to dry off before filling them with the beer. Don’t fill to their maximum limit. Use the bottle caps to seal off the bottle following the caps sealing procedure. After sealing, don’t consume immediately. Instead, allow the beer to stay a couple of weeks before drinking. You can also decide to keep the drink without bottling it.
The Business End of Setting Up a Craft Brewery
Now you know the basic craft of brewing and bottling your beer, but don’t call it a night just yet. There is still an essential business side of things. They include:
- Carry out a feasibility study and design a business plan: Visit the market and gather information about the bestselling beer brands. See the type of recipes used to make such beers, and learn their marketing strategies as well. Also, check out for the best site to locate your own brewery. In setting up a craft brewery, you may need to consult an expert to do part of this for you. This could cost you as much as $5000, but it is money well spent.
- Design a creative financial plan: Make sure that you have a strong financial plan. Small breweries do not always make a profit in the first year of operation. Setbacks may occur, and you will be required to ride the storm and stay afloat. A good financial plan should make provisions for emergencies.
- Find the perfect site: Since you can now brew beer on a small scale, you can take your passion to the next level. First, you need to find a suitable site to set up your brewery. If you don’t have enough money to build a factory, you can start with a rented site, or even alter your home if local building regulations permit that. But no matter your option, ensure that the site is located at a strategic location.
- Purchase the necessary equipment: Since you have rented a perfect site for your brewery, it’s time to fit in the equipment. Consult the best dealers on brewery equipment and get the best options. Start with essential purchases, the equipment that a brewery cannot do without. You can buy other optional equipment as you progress.
- Seek assistance in setting up a craft brewery: In order to brew a lot of craft beer and distribute to a larger market, you need more hands on deck. You can start by employing the service of some experts in various sections such as sales. This will enhance production, distribution, and will expand your brewery within a short while. Keep your staff small to begin though.
- Brand your beer: Make your product stand out from the crowd. Your background checks on other brands will contribute towards making your own brand unique. There is a need for every new product to speak its own language. Always bear in mind that people don’t actually trust new products. They will embrace your brand after several testimonies from various satisfied consumers.
- Paperwork: Be sure to get all the necessary government permits. You may also join a brewery association locally.
- Make provision for distribution: Distribution is the lifeblood of your brewery. In many states, you, as the producer, will not be allowed to distribute your own beer. Get a good distributor to distribute to retailers. You may also need to purchase a small truck to transport your products to your distributor. Again, a brewpub allows you to sell directly to customers.
- Plan for growth: When people finally embrace your brand, the market will increase demand. When you’re not ready for this, your brewery might experience a lot of setbacks. Once you begin to realize some profits, start your expansion process immediately.
If you follow this guide, setting up a craft brewery will be a real breeze, and you can go on to run a very successful craft beer business.