Most states have one or more microbreweries. These local beer producers churn out fewer than 15,000 barrels of brew a year. Some microbrews are occasionally shipped out of region and hit it big in other markets. Other brews stay close to their town of origin. Either way, microbreweries are big news. If you like to make your own beer and want to expand, consider the following advice.
- Skill level:
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Perfect your magic formula. Make sure your brew has passed the taste test by folks other than your poker buddies. Once you start getting compliments on your homemade brew from guests and friends alike, it's time to consider expanding. Check your ingredients and brewing process and think about how to adapt your beer for a larger audience.
Study microbrewery success stories. Redhook Ale, the Brooklyn Brewery and a few others paved the way for today's expanding microbrewery market. Read about their start-up trials and tribulations. Pick up copies of "The New Brewer," "Brewer's Digest" and "Modern Brewery Age" to study the competition.
Assemble your team. Even the smallest at-home start-up microbrewery needs a CEO, a lawyer, an accountant and office or sales help. Hire dedicated people who will work for low or deferred wages at first. Unless, of course, you have a huge bankroll ready for them.
Know where you are going. It helps to have a legitimate business plan. You can buy a do-it-yourself business plan kit from several online sources, or have a business expert or writer draw one up. Consider the cost of equipment, office and warehouse rental and employee salaries.
Lock up financing. Go over your credit. If you have superior credit, it can be quite easy to get loans or a business credit card. If not, you will need a co-signer. Once you have a plan of attack ready, inquire about different types of financing at your local bank.
Buy beer-making equipment. Some companies offer equipment such as steam-operated brewing systems, kegs, kettles and other items at a discount. Some start-ups have bartered for equipment. Once you figure out how much beer you can comfortably brew to begin your company, price start-up equipment like fermenters, and hot and cold storage tanks.
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