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How to Startup Your Own Craft Beer Brewery in 2023

It is going to take work. Let's just get that said immediately. You think it's going to be all cool and fun and you'll have a good time with it, and maybe you will, but it is hard, arduous work breaking into the brewery business.

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A brewer holding a keg with one foot on a beer barrel
If you're going to build a brewery, you gotta start somewhere

For starters, it's been a popular thing to do now for the past decade, as evidenced by the more than 8,000 breweries nationally. So, you're going to have significant competition. Plus, you never know when unexpected setbacks will arise ... for instance, a global pandemic.

And, you're going to have to become proficient in things other than just brewing barrels of beer if you want to remain solvent. You will need to become good at (or hire) marketing your craft beer on social media, establishing relationships with distributors and retailers, and, playing nice with the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau). You know, folks whose bad side you don't want to be on.

If business structure, market research, and cleaning equipment are processes that won't hinder your dream, who are we to get in the way of you owning your own business?

Here are the steps you need to know for starting your own microbrewery.

  1. Creation a Brand Name
  2. Creating the Brewery Business

Steps 1 & 2 available now.

Step 1: Creating a Brand Name

Every business has a brand name and yours will be no different. How you develop your brand is up to you, but you will need one. The brand name will be on every single piece of marketing material that you produce, including your logo, your company letterhead, direct mail pieces (if take that route), your website, and, maybe most importantly, on all of your cans, bottles, and packaging.

Branding is will be second only to your actual beer in importance, even if everything results in only a plain white label with a printed name, like, "Your Hometown Brewing Company". Interestingly enough, the name, "Your Hometown Brewing Company" might be trademarked (we haven't checked), so, you will want to do plenty of research upfront to determine if that fantastic brewery name has already been taken.

Brewery owners will become quite familiar with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in the brewery branding process. Before you walk too far down that road, a quick search on Google and Facebook should give you an idea of whether or not your proposed brewery name will conflict with an existing craft beer brewery operating elsewhere in the United States.

Your Brewery's Name: Branding & Positioning

Questions will undoubtedly arise when you start putting your product into market, including questions about why people should be interested in you and your beer, or, what does your brewery stand for? In an era of increased enlightenment and dedication toward environmental sustainability and social responsibility, the wrong decision could put you out of business. Here are the questions you want to ask yourself when naming your brewery:

  • Is the name available?
  • Is it memorable?
  • Is it derogatory?
  • Do the words have meaning in a different language?

You want to choose a brand name that you will feel just as proud of on day one as you will ten years into the game, should you make it that far. You should also know that your customers will alter your name in the same way that nicknames form for Pro Sports Teams or musical acts get the acronym treatment.

For instance, we've long considered Tree House Brewing Company to be the Dave Matthews Band of the craft beer industry. People don't refer to Tree House Brewing Company as Tree House Brewing Company, they simply call it Treehouse, which isn't even spelled correctly. Similarly, people refer to the Dave Matthews Band as D.M.B., or just, Dave. If you had thoughts of using a generic suffix like Brewing Company or Beer Company, just know that it's probably getting dropped when enough people start referring to you.

Same goes for Jack's Abby, which always gets shortened to Jack's.

Bad Brewery Naming Ideas

And lastly, don't get clever. Don't try and hide something inappropriate in your name, especially as an acronym. Or worse, don't blatantly name your brewery something distasteful. While the Boston Outdoor Ocean Brewery might be funny to you, it's not appropriate. Don't be that guy.

That said, it's your brewery, so do your own thing. But expect to live with the results.

Step 2: Creating the Brewery Business

This step is especially important for brewery owners who are partnering together in some way, shape, or form, and less so for homebrewers turning professional. That's not to say that homebrewers won't benefit from setting up a proper legal entity (they will), it's to say that forming the correct business structure when creating a new brewery with one or more partners might be the MOST important step of them all.

The story is not new, whether in the brewing industry or elsewhere, where a few like-minded friends get together, in this case craft brewers, to work on building a new business (new brewery) that will allow them to turn passion projects into viable businesses and so forth. Things start wonderfully and progress at a good pace. Then one day, one of the owners has a change of heart. Everything collapses, including their once great relationship, and now lawyers are involved.

You've heard that story a hundred times, maybe even living through it yourself. If so, you know that this isn't the point where we say that lawyers could have been avoided if they had set up a proper legal entity. No.

No, this is where we say that there is far more clarity into who owns what, who is responsible for what, and what the next step in the legal process is with a business structure in place such as a S Corp or LLC (Limited Liability Corporation).

Your chosen business structure will also determine how your brewing business will be run, and how various affairs such as cash flow, profit share, and loss sharing will be managed. This makes it important to consult with an expert on business formation and management. From brewing to business management, Ollie has you covered.

To note: We are NOT attorneys. This is NOT legal advice. Do your own research.

Steps 3-9: Coming Soon