When you brew beer at home, you're playing a mixture of connoisseur and mad scientist! You get to choose the type and proportion of hops to use, the levels of malt and every other detail associated with the process of brewing beer. Fortunately, most states do not require home brewers to get a license to brew beer if they plan on using it for themselves. However, if you're going to sell beer, then contact your state commission to find out how to get a license.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Proof of residence
- Corporate application (if you intend to make it a full-fledged business)
- Beer brewing equipment
Determine exactly how much beer you intend to brew. If you're going to brew beer in large quantities (more than 200 gallons a year), then you likely need to get a license. Also, if you plan on entering your brew into competitions, then some states require a liquor or brewer's license.
Contact your local and state governments to get any and all necessary paperwork to start your business. Independent brewers can sell and market their beer as a sole proprietorship in most states, but incorporating adds an extra level of protection.
Note that if you already have a business, and wish to add brewing to your list of licenses, then you still need to file the necessary paperwork, even if you already have a license to sell alcohol. Failure to get a license for your own brewing can carry stiff penalties.
Get the appropriate paperwork from your local or state Alcoholic Beverage Control Bureau. You can often find the necessary paperwork online (just go to your governmental website), or you can head to a local office.
Pay whatever fees are required to file a brewer's license. Fees vary by state and often by municipality, but you'll be required to pay for your license on each governmental level.
Tips and warnings
- Start out small. When you first begin to brew your own beer, just make small batches, and only share it with your immediate friends and family, without selling it for profit. When you brew beer in small batches, you can do so without a license, and you can get an idea whether it's worth expanding your operation.
- Ensure that you are filing the correct paperwork for the appropriate license. Many states have different alcohol licenses, depending on the corporate entity (wine shops vs. restaurants, for example). Read the different licenses carefully to ensure you're filing the correct paperwork.
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