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Nano brewery/tasting room feasibility

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  • Nano brewery/tasting room feasibility

    Forgive me in advance, for this may be a rather long post.

    I, like 30% of the population, am interested in starting a nano brewery, and wanted input from the pros on the feasibility of said venture.


    It would be in a new business development in a village of 5k residents. The village is basically a suburb (within 5 miles) of a city with a population of 120,000. The development will be directly off of a business highway, where approximately 15,000 cars pass by everyday as people from smaller towns drive into the bigger city for work, play, etc. The site is also located on the same piece of property as a golf course that is surrounded by luxury homes. The golf course also hosts a LPGA tournament and weddings almost every weekend from spring to fall. The development will house several retail spaces and will have a 1200 seat amphitheater for summer concerts. I would look into an end unit of the development for an outdoor patio area for the tasting room.


    I have researched and what makes the most sense in my application would be these:

    two of the large units would allow me to simultaneously make 80 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.070. Lower gravity beers would be closer to 100 gallons, give or take. I am a Boil in a Bag brewer, so the learning curve on these would be minimal, as all of my recipes would translate easily. The other advantages are smaller footprint and the ability to mash, boil and chill to pitching temps in about 4 hours time in the same vessel. So a double batch day of what would be my flagship IPA would take approximately 10 hours and give me about 5bbl.

    The other advantages to this system is the ability to make (depending on the beer) 1 to 1 1/2bbl of two different beers at the same time, electronic temperature control of the mash and cooling to pitch temp (set it and forget it) and being able to push the wort into the fermentors with co2.

    Due to budget, I would probably start with plastic fermentors with the cooling coil for temp control. Also, a brite for consistent carbing then rack into kegs for the taproom.


    During the leaner winter months, I was thinking of doing a growler club, kinda like a mug club, for the people going home from work to stop in and grab a growler for a discount, or every 10th one free, something along those lines.

    So thats it. please add any comments or suggestions. Now to start working on that business plan.....

  • #2
    I have a tasting room in a town of 773 man, women, and child. 90% of our "locals" actually live outside our community. I live in Montana with a total population of just over 1 million. Montana has strange tasting room laws and only allows us to sell 48 oz. of beer at the tap room and growler fills to go.

    I have a 2.5bbl electric 2 vessel brew system I built with a tankless water heater to get the water temp to 130 to shorten the heat to strike time.

    I started with a 40 gal brew system and within 6 months built a system twice as big (the 2.5bbl) system.

    With milling and cleaning I can brew a batch in 6 hours. This time of year we are brewing twice a week. In the summer we brew literally every day we can. I will transfer, carb, and keg a beer. Clean that fermenter and fill it by the end of the day with a new beer.

    I started with 4-110 gal fermenters and within 6 months added 4 more. I built 2 chillers out of Coleman coolers and AC units with a stainless coil inside to chill the fermenters and crash cool them.

    I started with 30 kegs and had to add 45 more with 60 days of opening. I am now working to install 12-100 gallon serving tanks in the walk in cooler which will cost more than all of the DIY equipment to date.

    We have 10 beers on tap. Within 90 days I had to hire a tap room manager and now she runs the tap room with a part time employee. I have been seeking a full time assistant brewer to come on board any time to allow me to focus on the beers and the business.

    We've been open less than 10 months.

    All that being said.

    I already owned the commercial building with floor drains and 3 phase power. So there is no additional overhead for rent.

    I spent three months and built out the brewery and tap room as cheaply as possible alone (excepting utilities) including forming and pouring the sidewalks and handicap parking spot.

    I built all the brewing equipment my self.

    My local health and town ordinances are pretty simplistic- I could never have built this in a metro area on the same budget.

    Between equipment and construction I spent approximately $50,000 of cash on hand, so we have no debt to service.

    We are projecting we will have about $150,000 in gross sales this year with a potential increase of 20-30% next year.

    You'll never get rich at this scale but you could provide a living wage to 2-3 families.

    Add a food truck you own and maybe increase that gross to maybe $250,000

    Focus on merch and increase that number even more?

    Distribution is capital intensive. More real estate, more expensive equipment, and more employees. All for less profit than one pint served in the tap room versus a 6 pack on a grocery shelf.

    Maximize profit in the tap room and build up a large capital reserve before considering jumping into distribution- you'll need a bigger brew system, bigger fermenters....etc.

    I have had people wanting to invest- but then I'm working 80 hours a week to pay somebody else!

    My way is not the only way. You mileage may vary.

    Best of luck

    Bandit Brewing Co
    Darby, Mt

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    JC McDowell
    Bandit Brewing Co.- 3bbl brewery and growing
    Darby, MT- population 700
    OPENED Black Friday 2014!


    • #3
      Oh- we have a mug club that we have expanded twice. We charge an annual fee ($50) and they get .50 off the $3.50 beers and a $1.00 of growlers.

      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
      JC McDowell
      Bandit Brewing Co.- 3bbl brewery and growing
      Darby, MT- population 700
      OPENED Black Friday 2014!