Starting a Craft Brewery

Ever entertained the thought of opening up your own microbrewery to cut down on your monthly expenses? Read on. We believe there’s an easier way.

THE DREAM: Every year starry-eyed brewer-wanna-be’s attend the trade shows and conferences, rubbing elbows with maltsters, studying bottling systems, gazing at shiny new copper brew kettles, and dreaming. “What if . . .” Buoyed by the seminars given by brewing legends who have made millions, and inspired by the many bottles of beer offered for tasting, thousands go home glassy-eyed, future brewers.

UGH, THE REALITY CHECK: Not to pop your bubble, but opening a small craft brewery today costs in the neighborhood of a million bucks. (And we’re talking small potatoes, no brewpub!) So what are the essentials you’ll get for your initial million dollar investment?

EQUIPMENT: One 20-barrel brewing system with fermenters, hoses, bells and whistles. Being made of copper (not gold), it will cost, conservatively, $300,000. A minimal bottling line will set you back another scant $75,000. And then there are the insignificant tools of the trade, and the necessities of the craft – all costly essentials with varying price tags attached.

FACILITY: Improving a leased building will run upwards of $150,000, no matter how you slice it. But that’s still cheaper than building. Mandatory modifications are huge drains, a slanted floor for proper drainage, vents, electrical stuff, etc.

ADVISORY STAFF: Better hire an architect, and unless you know a lawyer with a degree in accounting, you’ll need the advice of a real lawyer to check out codes, licensing, zoning regulations, surety bonds, etc., and a real accountant, because spending all those zeroes gets confusing!

MINOR DETAILS: Since you’ve never done this before, you’ll need a professional brewing consultant. A head brew guru, three brew grunts and a driver should round out the initial crew – add another $100,000.

MAJOR DETAILS: There are kegs, bottles, a delivery van with insurance, utility hook-ups, office supplies, advertising and promotion, and kiss your private life good-bye.

Want to refocus your glazed eyes on an easier way? Depend on your favorite Great Clubs Beer of the Month Club – our selections are great

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