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Thread: Making the jump from home brewer to craft brewer

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    3

    Making the jump from home brewer to craft brewer

    I just want to hear some tips/advice/stories on how someone makes the jump from brewing in the kitchen to making something that can actually sell. I'm not talking about quitting my job, buying a brewery and knocking out 100,000 gallons in the next year. I mean how do I make the step before that: how do I start making a name for my beer? How do I market a product that doesn't have 100,000 gal/yr behind it? How do I actually sell it? Do I have to get a liquor license?

    For example, I'm thinking the best way to get my name out there is to try to market my beer to the local restaurants in my area, so they can sell it as a local craft brew or even as a brew made especially for that restaurant. I figure going directly to restaurants would help me get a feel for how much volume I need to generate (since my brand would likely sell slowly considering all the other popular brands on the menu), and with that I can create a baseline for how much more volulme I would need to produce for each new restaurant selling my beer. Is that a good place to start? Would selling directly to restaurants require me to deliver my beer in a pressurized canister for use with a tap? If so, then how exactly do I go about developing a price model for the canister. Beer by the six-pack or case is derived from the cost of a bottle, but how do I figure out cost of a canister?

    Then, in time, I could go directly to liquor stores, but that product would most likely be sold in six-packs, so now actual marketing comes into play, because the six-pack has to have the logo and branding and all that. So I'd have time to come up with the money and resources to start the branding side of the business, because I'd start with the restaurants which may not even require bottle labels. But even just to sell bottles on the side, what's the price model for that? I calculated one of my recipes to cost almost $1 per bottle. Sam Adams sells for that, so how could I compete pricewise with that? Or do I even need to worry about that? But even if I could sell my beer for $1 per bottle, I'd be making at most $0.10/bottle. That's not a good profit margin...

    This all comes from just me brainstorming, because I don't have any experience in the beer industry other than making a lot of my own beer for a good number of years. Am I way off? Anyone got any better ideas? Or better experience?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Reno, Nevada USA
    Posts
    320
    Dear StrangePork:
    The New reality is YES to all of your questions. The Days and Laws of starting your brewery out of your kitchen/garage are over. That is if someone has a some insight. Currently the laws with ATF are no residential within 500 Ft of Brewery premis, No churches or schools within 500 Ft. All beer produced and sold must be accounted for, with both State and Federal Excise taxes paid. To answer your question: You are going to fork out huge amount of "Jack" (Money) to make your dream come true. Label design, approval.........Fed and State license fees and effort.......equipment purchase.....and brewery location costs.......= lots of Money and Time..
    Ask yourself if it is worth giving up your day job?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    1
    This might seem strange, but could or would a Beer co-op among 3 or 4 friends help? Each of you brew your own batches for sale, and share the timing allowed per person, like sharing a plane or boat in some clubs.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Ponderay, Idaho
    Posts
    229
    Quote Originally Posted by iluvpcs
    This might seem strange, but could or would a Beer co-op among 3 or 4 friends help? Each of you brew your own batches for sale, and share the timing allowed per person, like sharing a plane or boat in some clubs.
    what you are proposing is called an alternating premise Look it up at TTB.gov
    and see what they have to say, it sounds like a major undertaking to me

    Fred Colby
    Laughing Dog Brewing
    Last edited by Laughing Dog; 12-27-2006 at 08:36 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Polson, Montana, USA
    Posts
    1,060
    Quote Originally Posted by iluvpcs
    This might seem strange, but could or would a Beer co-op among 3 or 4 friends help? Each of you brew your own batches for sale, and share the timing allowed per person, like sharing a plane or boat in some clubs.
    Even with alternating premises, you still need the premises. Still big money. You have to start branding with the first keg you produce, not when you get into bottles. You product identity should be one of the first things you develop. Bottom line is (as has been said before), there is no cheap way, there is no easy way. It will take time and money (a LOT of money).
    Luck to ya'
    Dave

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