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  • Brewpub startup questions

    Hello Pro Brewers!
    Iím looking to convert an existing and operating restaurant into a brewpub.
    Itís a small space and I think a 3-5bbl system and bar with 6-10 taps will utilize the space perfectly. Currently itís not attracting many customers largely because of lack of parking. I think fresh brewed beer will be enough incentive for people to park across the street and walk over. Mainers love their brewpubs, in York county.

    It seemed easiest to me to just use the business name thatís currently running the restaurant since it already has some of its licensing, they do serve beer and drinks already.

    My main question is about the legal side of things...

    Would my equipment need to be in a separate fire rated room? Does that room need sprinklers? If I had space under the big fancy stainless hood in the restaurant that has fire suppression in it could I do my boiling under that and ferment elsewhere?
    Is vinyl sheet flooring ok for a new brewing area? (I think the kitchen is tile currently) Is a floor drain mandatory?


    Are there any un foreseen licensing / permitting hurdles I might be missing for a typical small diner that already serves beer to be able to produce a couple hundred barrels of beer yearly to be served in house only?

    How crude / small of a system can I expect to be permitted with? Can I Be permitted to start making beer there using the existing burners and 60gal kettles with spigot and plastic fermenters etc? Iím not talking about the economics of the whole thing, I understand economies of scale. But just to get something going, maybe use that while we ponder where to put a bigger one?
    Thank you!
    Eric

  • #2
    Originally posted by McGinn View Post
    Hello Pro Brewers!
    Iím looking to convert an existing and operating restaurant into a brewpub.
    Itís a small space and I think a 3-5bbl system and bar with 6-10 taps will utilize the space perfectly. Currently itís not attracting many customers largely because of lack of parking. I think fresh brewed beer will be enough incentive for people to park across the street and walk over. Mainers love their brewpubs, in York county.

    It seemed easiest to me to just use the business name thatís currently running the restaurant since it already has some of its licensing, they do serve beer and drinks already.

    My main question is about the legal side of things...

    Would my equipment need to be in a separate fire rated room? Does that room need sprinklers? If I had space under the big fancy stainless hood in the restaurant that has fire suppression in it could I do my boiling under that and ferment elsewhere?
    Is vinyl sheet flooring ok for a new brewing area? (I think the kitchen is tile currently) Is a floor drain mandatory?


    Are there any un foreseen licensing / permitting hurdles I might be missing for a typical small diner that already serves beer to be able to produce a couple hundred barrels of beer yearly to be served in house only?

    How crude / small of a system can I expect to be permitted with? Can I Be permitted to start making beer there using the existing burners and 60gal kettles with spigot and plastic fermenters etc? Iím not talking about the economics of the whole thing, I understand economies of scale. But just to get something going, maybe use that while we ponder where to put a bigger one?
    Thank you!
    Eric
    This is just my opinion, but It doesn't sound like the space is going to be suitable for brewing beer. In order to make good beer it would be hard to not go all in at once. You will get treated the same if you brew 5 gallons or 500,000 gallons. The fact that you don't have customers now, and the rest of the restaurant and names are staying the same would be really concerning. You will attract the majority of your regulars in the first couple of years being open.

    Have you considered doing collaborations with other local breweries? Getting high end beers and offering carryout will also get your cash flow moving along? Equipment is expensive.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by AmbrosiaOrchard View Post
      This is just my opinion, but It doesn't sound like the space is going to be suitable for brewing beer. In order to make good beer it would be hard to not go all in at once. You will get treated the same if you brew 5 gallons or 500,000 gallons. The fact that you don't have customers now, and the rest of the restaurant and names are staying the same would be really concerning. You will attract the majority of your regulars in the first couple of years being open.

      Have you considered doing collaborations with other local breweries? Getting high end beers and offering carryout will also get your cash flow moving along? Equipment is expensive.

      Thank you for the response! Yes my first step would be to put in some taps and bar seating and bring in some local brews.

      The signage and logo currently sucks so I’d do some remarketing to get people’s attention refreshed and hand out coupons at local places etc.
      the restaurant is doing ok, so I wouldn’t say it doesn’t have customers, just has way more potential / capacity.

      But I do think getting a brewing operation in there would put it on another level of people making an effort to go there. Plus, being honest I’ve always wanted a brewpub. I don’t foresee any issues with the quality of beer I could make on any size system. Consistency is tougher but that won’t matter at first so much as long as it’s good.

      Ultimately I want a 3-5 bbl system. Maybe I should go straight to that? But if I can apply for a permit and start brewing 1bbl batches now to use until the bigger setup is ready to be inspected, I don’t see why that would be a bad thing?

      Everyone wants me to get a giant warehouse with sprinklers and spend $200k on a 5bbl+ system but I’m looking at the numbers and thinking I can ease my way in here and take my time expanding.

      Comment


      • #4
        What is your level of brewing experience? Crude equipment can produce good beer in the hands of a very experienced brewer, but on the hands of an inexperienced brewer, not so much.

        Comment


        • #5
          Personally Iíve only done a few dozen home brews and the only issues Iíve had is too warm of a fermentation once or twice giving some Esther notes. I have an engineering background and a solid understanding of it all. More recently Iíve been in charge of tap / kegerator setups for work so Iíve added that to my experience as well as food industry experience.
          But luckily I have my good buddy on board who I went to school with and lived with me while he started his brewing career at shipyard brewery in Portland. Heís since gone on to work at several other breweries including St archer in San Diego and Oskar blues and is head brewer now.

          So thatís why Iím not too concerned about the quality of the product, my biggest concern at this point is fire code and permitting.

          Comment

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