Advice from 4 Founders and Owners

You might consider opening your own brewery with increasing craft brewery numbers. But there are a lot of things to consider before diving in – market saturation, your personal industry experience and overall cost are just a few of the major considerations.

We’ve broken down some industry numbers on the craft beer scene and talked to experts in the field to ask what they wish they knew before opening their own breweries.

In this article we’ll cover:

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Brewery opening and close statistics

The Brewer’s Association’s annual reportIn the United States, there were 8,764 microbreweries, brewpubs, taprooms and microbreweries in 2020. The 22% drop in craft beer retail sales to $22.2 billion is due to increased sales of packaged beer and fewer bar and restaurant sales.

Even though overall dollar sales were down in 2016, the number of newly opened breweries, taprooms, and other venues was higher than those that were closed permanently, which shows that there is still a strong demand for locally-made craft beers.

By type, number of craft beer breweries in the US

Source: Brewer’s Association

Statistics about the craft brewery industry

Additional statistics from the Brewer’s Association report include:

  • 12.3% of the total beer market was made up of craft beer. Imported beers accounted for 19.5%, while domestic beers accounted for 68.2%.
  • Taprooms (9.9%), large craft breweries (8.1%), and microbreweries (18.9%) saw the most growth in 2020. Brewpubs (1.5%) and brewpubs (1.5%) had the slowest growth.
  • Regional craft breweries (-8.3%) were the only segment showing negative growth.

Millennials are breweries’ target customers

  • Get active on social media62% of millennials are more likely than others to become loyal customers if they can interact with your brand online.
  • Offer flights and specialsDue to lower wages, millennials have less disposable money and are more likely to default on student loans.
  • Get involved: 67% of respondents say they are more inclined to support a brand that gives back the community.


How much does it cost for a brewery to open?

The size of your brewery, the location, and whether it is beer-only or brewpub will all impact how much you spend on startup costs. Incfile estimates it will cost between $250,000 to $2.5 MillionThe following costs are required to open a new brewery:

  • Brewing equipment (anywhere between $100,000 and $1 million), such as kegs or kettles, boilers.
  • The lease or rent of your space.
  • The amount of work you will need to do in your new space. This includes plumbing, flooring and electrical updates, building a kitchen and/or bar, and decorations, fixtures, and furniture.
  • You can get licenses to brew and serve alcohol, or food depending on where you live.
  • A bar POS systemTo help you manage staff, track loyalty points, accept online orders, and more.

A person wearing blue shorts and a gray shirt carries mini kegs on the brewery floor.


Four founders offer advice on how to start your own brewery

We asked four brewery owners to tell us what advice they would give to someone who wants to break into the industry and what they wish they’d known before they started their business.

Learn more about craft beer

Cooper:Spend some time getting to know others in the craft beer community. Spend some time at your local brewery and get to know the owners of the business.

Create a plan for a brewery company

Seto:Make sure you have a solid plan and factor in as many bumps as possible. Things rarely go as you planned.When problems arise, it is important to have a solid plan and stick to it. 

We faced many issues when we started our company, including timing issues, equipment failures and technology issues. This sometimes led to problems with our client base. I can’t stress how important it is to be ready for anything and to be prepared for the worst. It makes a huge difference in our business today.

Before you go out on your own, get industry experience

RothAnyone who is thinking about starting a business should remember to do the following: Make sure they have previous experience in the field.. Getting behind a bar at a taproom, spending time shadowing a pro-brewer, meeting with an executive at a brewery to understand the financials—the more hands-on experience you have as an owner, the quicker you can diagnose problems, gain the trust of your staff and, for those looking for capital, give you a background in the space that will be necessary to entice investors.

What I wish that I knew before opening my brewery

Cooper: I wish that I had my own financial home.. My previous job was in the mining industry, and I knew I wanted to make a change. I was trying to pay off some personal debt while simultaneously opening a brewery. 

I was fired one day for bringing homebrew to coworkers. Instead of looking for a new job, I decided to dedicate all my energy to opening a brewery. On several occasions, during startup and opening, I had to forego a salary to pay for something for the business and I began a game of “Which bill can I stretch out this month?”

Seto:There are many things that I wish I had known before HolyCraft began, but the most important would be Distribution and packaging costs. Distribution in the beer business is complicated and expensive. It would have been much easier to know all of the costs involved in beer production and sale. 

HolyCraft grew, and we were unable to self-distribute our personal cars as the demand was too high. It is important to consider the cost of a distributor as well as their willingness and ability to help. in one’s consideration. We should have known that not all results are positive. This would have made it easier for us to plan for these scenarios.

Schwarz:You should ensure that you have A solid business plan is essential, as well as good corporate documents.. They are essential to be correctly set up and completed so everyone knows the road map and how you will handle disagreements.

RothThis may not be true for all people, but it might for some. We started our own distribution business and I wish that I had spent more of my time in that space.Before starting that business. Although we have grown the company very well, there were many mistakes that we made early on that could have been avoided had I known what I know now.


5 ways to make your brewery experience memorable

A tasting is one of the most memorable parts of visiting a new brewery. Guests can taste everything that you have to offer. Here are five tips on how to make your brewery’s tasting experience stand out from the pack.

1. Hire the best “beertenders”

Your beertender is the key to the success of any tasting. You want someone who is knowledgeable about your beer and the industry in general, and has a friendly and engaging personality. A great conversation with a beetender will result in a positive experience for you and many long-lasting customers.

2. Get something special on tap

Having a specialty selection that guests can’t get in bars or liquor stores is a great way to bring them into your taproom. Hold brewery-exclusive tastings of small, experimental batches or invite guests in to taste a seasonal brew a couple of months before it’s released. Don’t forget to promote!

A flight of three beers on a wooden board with the name Wood and Stone printed on it.

3. Give people as many options and choices as possible

Offer anyone who’s completed a tasting a discount on a flight or half-pours. Maybe they didn’t find anything they really loved in the first round, so give them as many opportunities as possible to find their favorite.

4. Establish your brewery’s feel

Do you want to run a brewpub and offer full meals or are you going for more of a “hanging out in the basement playing pinball” vibe? If you aren’t sure exactly which direction you want to go in, take a look at the demographics in the area you want to open and what the other nearby breweries are doing. You can find out what is lacking and how you can fill it.

5.  Let guests bring the experience back home

You will be able to bring in guests by offering limited-edition brews. You can give them special growlers and mixed six-packs so that they can bring back their favorite brews to share with family and friends. This allows them to share their experience with others and creates free word of mouth advertising for you. 

In addition to the guest experience, the right technology partner helps streamline day-to-day operations so that you can focus on what’s really important—your staff, your guests and your beer. Talk to one our experts today to learn more How Small Biz Sense Can Help.

Cyndy Lane

Cyndy is business journalist with a focus on entrepreneurship and small business. With over a decade of experience covering the startup and small business landscape, Cyndy has a reputation for being a knowledgeable, insightful and approachable journalist. She has a keen understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing small business owners and is able to explain them in a way that is relatable and actionable for her readers.