The idea of converting your homebrewing operation into a nanobrewery is a truly involved operation. There are multiple levels of government you need to pass through before you can start selling your beer. This being said it’s not impossible as long as you accept that you will be working hard physically and mentally for some time.
First and foremost you should become as knowledgeable about your legal needs as you are about creating the perfect ale. Buy a good book on starting a brewery such as the Brewers Association’s Guide to Starting Your Own Brewery. A membership to the Brewers Association (about $155 for an individual) can also help you along the way to answering pertinent questions that you just can’t find on random web forums. This also counts for deciphering legal mumbo jumbo that you may have trouble with on governmental websites like TTB.gov.
While I’m a big advocate of ‘you get what you pay for’, there are some websites out there that offer excellent free advice on legal matters revolving around starting a brewery:
- Legal Brewing has created an ebook about 21 questions about opening a brewery in the United State.
- Legal Libations offers legal advice but it’s in blog format which personally I don’t care for (yeah I know I’m a total hypocrite)
- The Hess Brewing Odyssey has a great breakdown on the red tape you need to cut through to open your own nanobrewery.
Personally I would go with the Brewers’ Association book to get a more rounded picture of what you are in for. After that start mapping out every detail about how you would expect things to run in your nanobrewery. When I mean every detail I mean everything:
- Who is going to buy this beer?
- Who is going to deliver my beer?
- Should I upgrade my system so I’m not brewing 3 batches a day for the rest of my life?
- If demand rises, will I be able to source ingredients in time?
- What if someone sues me for some stupid reason?
- How do I hire an accountant/lawyer/consultant without destroying all (if any) profits?
If any of these questions make you sick of reading or shake your confidence then you probably want to calm down, have a homebrew and reflect on how important this is to you. Knowledge, understanding and planning are key foundations to a successful business which is what you are trying to create. Do yourself a favor and start cracking the books/blogs to become a master of as many ‘what if’ scenarios as you can.
Don’t give up! With a lot of hard work and perseverance you could be the local nanobrewer everyone is talking about!
Recommended Reading: The Brewers Association’s Guide to Starting Your Own Brewery