View Full Version : Wholesale only vs. Wholesale and Pub

08-20-2009, 09:31 AM
I have been talking to a few brewers and most seem to think that you must have a Pub/public house in order for a small brewery to work.

I was just wondering what everyone on here thinks.

I think that with the right marketing and sales that I can start a wholesale only brewerey. This cold keep my initial costs down because I would have less labor costs, mostly due to me working my a** off to make the thing work. Also I wold have less headaches because I would only be running 1 business (brewery), instead of 2 (brewery, and restraunt).

Please help.
Does anyone have a wholeasle only brewery?

Is this just a bad idea?

If you have a long answer please feel free to email me, or if you have any advice for a guy starting up a dream.
email: casey@zollmanconstruction.com

thanks to everyone, this is such a great site.


08-20-2009, 11:24 AM
Can you do a tasting room with no food? If so that can help a lot. Way less cost, less work/employees, still get to sell beer. The reality is you get so much more for retail that it is hard to pass up. A keg at $80-100 wholesale or 130+ pints at $4 or 30+ growlers at $8-10 adds up to way more. It is much easier to make it when you are getting $500 a keg instead of $100. Obviously there are more costs and the biggest thing is where you can locate. Generally breweries are in industrial sites and bars are obviously in retail/commercial locations and can cost 2-3 times as much in rent. Depending on how much space you need that can be a huge difference. It has been done successfully many different ways, but generally speaking having the ability to sell your beer at retail is a big help when you are getting started I would imagine.

08-21-2009, 09:22 AM
I couldn't agree more with gt7834a's post!

08-31-2009, 08:45 PM
Me too! All breweries in Asheville have tasting rooms...even the big one that didnt want to go that route. great revenue stream and you will get great feedback from your "real" target audience!

Bebop Brewer
08-31-2009, 10:48 PM
as someone trying to start a brewery from scratch, I think it is all in who you know...I have commitments for ~ 3 BBLs per week to contacts already convinced that I make good beer, I just need the licences and equipment...niether of which are cheap with a wife and two kids and a double mortgage.

Larry Horwitz
11-05-2009, 08:13 AM
You MUST have a tasting room. It's free money for free. Besides, it's a GREAT marketing tool. Look at the one New Belgium has. Shrine to their beer. Also, it adds $$$ to the bottom line with very little investment.

11-05-2009, 08:35 AM
Bavarian Barbarian Brewing Company is a production brewery with a tasting room. Originally, the idea of the tasting room was to simply work as a showcase for our beers for potential bar/restaurant clients and a chance for local beer drinkers to come in and try our beers for free before committing to purchases at their favorite hang-outs. It actually turned into quite a decent little money-maker for us. Sales out of our tasting room accounted for nearly 1/3 of our revenue in the first year.

We have people in the tasting room asking us all the time if we have plans to start serving food and operating as a brew pub. We have absolutely no interest in running a restaurant. I make beer. Period.

Granted, our brewery is broke right now and struggling to survive each month. MAYBE a brewpub would've made things easier on us, but the reality is that it would've cost us twice as much money to do both. We had a hard enough time raising the money we needed just to start the production brewery let alone the additional funds to start a food service as well.

11-05-2009, 09:18 AM
I think one of the biggest issues is how big (or small), your system and fermenters will be.
Can a 3-7 BBL brewpub work? Yes, but be prepared to work hard and brew often.
Can a 3-7 BBL wholesale only work? I doubt it. Too little profit margin for way too little beer.
I have heard it said that 7 BBLs is the MINIMUM size needed to turn a profit for a packaging brewery, and I believe that is too low. Probably more like 10-15 BBLs.

02-21-2010, 07:54 AM
I have a package only brewery with a 6.5HL kettle and without a tasting room per se.

I do not think it can work without "something" extra. We are just entering our 2nd year.

I have bus-loads of tourists come through (about 4000 in my first year) who paid for tastings and a tour, and then had the opportunity to buy growlers, t-shirts etc. So although I do not have a room or a walk-in arrangement I do get additional revenue from them in the summer months.

I also sell party kegs to locals who take them on picnics, parties etc again in summer.

I have 9 taps in 6 local pubs selling my beer in the traditional packaging brewery way. If I had to rely on just this then I would need to sell about 700HL p.a. to break-even. In our first year we did 300HL, including beer for tourists and we lost money. This year I expect to do about 500-600HL and maybe get close to breaking even including revenue from tourists.

In my market, 700HL just to pubs is possible but I think I would run out of cash before I got there. It is the biggest thing in getting this thing going... what is the break-even point and can you get there fast enough to survive ??

So.... I think running a small production brewery without a tasting room looks just possible enough to get you in, but not really possible in the long run.