Life has thrown us quite a curveball this past year. Our 2020 certainly did not turn out the way we had planned it, which is probably why many of us have been forced to really reflect on our lives and our plans. It’s gotten us thinking about what we really want and where to find true fulfillment and happiness.
And that’s why you’re thinking of opening your own microbrewery.
Maybe you’ve always loved beer, or maybe you were sitting at home one night in your pajamas, drinking a bottle of beer when the thought hit you: Hey, I can make this!
They think it’s crazy, but that’s what they said about geniuses and industrialists of the past, right?
Setting up your own microbrewery is hard work and can be a lifelong endeavor, but it isn’t exactly a pipe dream either. With the steady popularity of craft beers in this 21st century, it’s a promising industry. You yourself are probably a patron of your local neighborhood microbrewery.
But what does it take, really, to make beer for a living? Malt, hops, yeast, and a lot of fermentation (of ideas and otherwise).
Take your beer goggles off
If you’ve fallen for the idea of making beer, then you have to make sure that it’s true love. Opening a microbrewery can’t just be a passing fancy. It’s a craft that is mastered for years, so beer will become your passion.
At this point, you should be somewhat of a beer connoisseur already. You know the differences between an ale, a lager, a stout, etc. You know the citrusy nuances of genuine Amarillo hops versus Citra. Yes, you will become a beer nerd. You will live, breathe, and of course, drink beer.
Drunk in love
As with any business venture, it’s important to know your competition, to do your research. This involves immersing yourself in beer, and before you go swimming in it, this means learning about the players in the industry.
Go out and visit other microbreweries. Find a mentor. Taste the flavors that are out there, and find a space that is still empty, one that you can occupy with your own brew. Maybe you can get to know the Brewers Association to learn more about the opportunities out there for you.
Learn the craft
Perhaps the most important thing you need to do now is to learn how to brew beer. Maybe you’ve already started at home with a small brewing kit, which is probably why you’ve ended even considering this business venture.
There are many beer brewing programs to look into—from dedicated brewing schools to programs in bigger colleges and universities. Sure, you can learn the basics on the internet, but it would also be valuable to expand your network in the industry, especially as you are just starting out.
Beer means business
It’s one thing to know the basic principles of brewing beer; it’s another to make a business out of it.
At the end of the day, your microbrewery will need to make money to stay afloat. You’re at an advantage if you already have the entrepreneurial drive and skills, but if not, you’ll need to acquire those as well.
Another strategy would be to find a business partner who, while probably not as into beer, is equipped with the financial, legal, and business skills you’ll need to set up shop.
You will also need to secure certain licenses and permits with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau as well as with your own state.
Name your brew
This is something you’ll need to think about later in the game, but it’s also the first thing your customers will know about you—your brand.
This isn’t just about the name and logo of your microbrewery. You’ll want to think about the overall personality of your brand. This is where it can get really fun and creative. You’ll enjoy thinking of names for your brews, thinking of a color scheme for your products, choosing the right bottle shape, and so many other creative and marketing decisions.
You can always work with an external team for this, like hiring a design agency, or if you have an in-house team, you can do it yourself! The important thing is to have a clear vision of what you want your beer brand to look and sound like.
The journey of your beer business is kind of like brewing a beer; with the right tools and ingredients, success will flow freely from your taps.