So you want to start a brewery? Join the club!
Many home brewers have aspirations of opening their own brewery someday, myself included. There is just something about making beer for a living that seems incredibly rewarding and fulfilling.
While many breweries-in-planning initially focus solely on the end product (beer recipes), the most important starting point in opening a business is a legitimate business plan of course!
As a young engineer, I’ve had little professional experience regarding business and/or management planning, and zero experience with business plan research, writing, and execution. When I finally got serious about opening a nanobrewery, I quickly learned that you have to look long and hard to find the resources to help get you started with business planning. Below is a collection of resources that will point any brewery-in-planning in the right direction to start formulating a meaningful business plan. This list is ever-expanding, so I plan to update and repost this as my own brewery planning evolves.
The Brewers Association’s Guide to Starting Your Own Brewery
While a little pricey, this Brewers Association publication is probably the best starting point if you are serious about starting a brewery. It is an incredibly easy read, but far from specific enough to serve as the sole resource in starting a brewery. The narrative offers sufficient advice and personal excerpts that will shed light on aspects you may not yet have considered (such as business structure, raising money, and even insurance!). The comprehensive business plan at the back of the book is worth the price alone.
RePublic Brewpub was a failed start-up by two friends in Sun Prairie, WI. They decided to maintain their blog and file cabinet as a useful resource for future brewery owners. Their file cabinet contains the most useful resources, including their business plan and financial model for brewpub. They also offer a comprehensive collection of calculation, simulation, and presentation documents, all freely available for download.
Hopshire Farm and Brewery
Hopshire is family owned and operated Freeville, New York with the goal of connecting customers with the ingredients in their beer. Their website contains a PDF presentation titled “Opening a Brewery? Have a Business Plan” which shares their model, timeline, investment information, cost analysis, and case study series. It serves as a nice, quick overview of much of the information you NEED to consider when starting your business plan.
Format: Google Doc
The Fantom Brewing business plan was the end product of a senior-level college business project. Much like the previous resources, its value is in its business plan structure. The Fantom Brewing document is a more comprehensive example of a business plan than the RePublic version, and a more specific example than the Brewers Association version. The caveat with this one is that it was a student project, so take that for what it is worth.
Reference for Business
Reference for Business is an comprehensive and easily accessible encyclopedia of reference sources for entrepreneurs. It contains over 600 articles that detail financial planning, market analysis, business plans, tax planning, human resources, and much more. The website contains an example of the Juniper Creek Brewing Company Business Plan. Beware that the information is dated (20 years old!) but nevertheless, it is another good example of a business plan.
SBU Business Plan
The Small Business Unit document walks you through the significance and formation of a general business plan, explaining the important aspects to each component. It serves as a step-by-step instruction document. Remember that the SBU resource is not brewery specific, so you should utilize some of the brewery business plan models previously mentioned to tailor it more toward the brewing industry.
So there you have it. These resources are a good starting point. Stay tuned for me updates as my own business plan evolves over the coming months.
Take the Leap!