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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2009 * Archive through August 24, 2009 * Selling homebrew at a restaurant < Previous Next >

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Nephalist
Member
Username: Nephi

Post Number: 182
Registered: 12-2005
Posted From: 162.116.29.69
Posted on Friday, August 14, 2009 - 07:54 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I got a text from an old friend whose family owns a few restaurants. She wants to discuss brewing beer for sale at her establishment. I don't even know where to begin. My gut reaction is "don't" as my impression from the forums is that it's difficult to navigate the legal requirements and permits, and even harder to profit from the eventual sale. Am I a pessimist?

I can talk homebrew to her and any Joe who'll listen, but this is over my head. Is there a book by someone who went from homebrew to brewpub? It might be a decade old by now if I remember correctly. Any opinions?

Restaurant is in the LA area
 

dhacker
Senior Member
Username: Dhacker

Post Number: 1764
Registered: 11-2002
Posted From: 98.66.4.194
Posted on Friday, August 14, 2009 - 09:13 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Am I a pessimist?

Nope.

Unless they get licensed properly (read lots o' money) You don't want to touch it with a ten foot pole. It would be the equivalent of bootlegging

'IF' they are willing to do the legal/ licensing part, and the local ordinances allow, then there is no reason why it couldn't be done.
 

Paul Edwards
Senior Member
Username: Pedwards

Post Number: 1777
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 76.252.49.255
Posted on Friday, August 14, 2009 - 09:21 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

One of the hurdles will be coming up with a place where you can brew commercially. You likely wouldn't be able to brew at your house, for example, if you wanted to sell your beer to a restaurant. There's zoning rules, health dept rules, and other stuff you'd have to be in compliance on.

here's one place to start looking:

http://beertown.org/craftbrewing/start_brewery.html
 

PaulK
Advanced Member
Username: Paulk

Post Number: 848
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 68.63.203.31
Posted on Friday, August 14, 2009 - 10:15 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

If they are that serious about your brew then tell them to turn their place into a brewpub and you can become the brewer. Chances are they're looking for a cheap source of beer and have no clue of any of the costs or legalities.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 10594
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.141.103.148
Posted on Friday, August 14, 2009 - 11:09 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Unless you have access to a commercial space that meets all the zoning and inspection requirements (it's extremely unlikely you could do this at home), PaulK has the best advice. I, too, doubt they are willing to make the investment in a brewery at one of their locations, but that would certainly be the way to go. They need to bear more of the exposure and the risks.
 

Nephalist
Member
Username: Nephi

Post Number: 183
Registered: 12-2005
Posted From: 162.116.29.69
Posted on Friday, August 14, 2009 - 11:32 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks,
I wasn't proposing myself as a brewer. My beer has a long way to go before I would have such aspirations. I think they just wanted a free opinion. It's amazing how many people hear I brew beer, or try it, and say "you should sell this."(edit: again, not boasting about my mediocre beer. Most people are just shocked that a quaffable beer can be made at home) I don't remember where I got the idea, but my impression is that brewing is not a get-rich quick scheme.

(Message edited by Nephi on August 14, 2009)
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 10595
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.141.103.148
Posted on Friday, August 14, 2009 - 11:50 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

It's an old truism that the best way to make a small fortune in brewing is to start with a large one.
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 2242
Registered: 02-2002
Posted From: 71.234.45.166
Posted on Saturday, August 15, 2009 - 12:22 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

To answer your other question: yes, there are a couple of books about going commercial. Start in the store part of beertown.org, then look around Amazon. You should be able to find some good info there.
 

Paul Edwards
Senior Member
Username: Pedwards

Post Number: 1778
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 76.252.49.255
Posted on Saturday, August 15, 2009 - 02:01 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

There was a guy in Kokomo, Indiana that was brewing 5 gallon batches in a commercial set-up (Brass Monkey Brewing Co), then selling the beer thru a business in the same building (The Marketplace cafe). But The Marketplace closed up shop, and now the guy who owns the Brass Monkey is looking at his options.

So small batch commercial brewing is a possibility. But don't quit your day job!
 

Chris Storey
Junior Member
Username: Stuts

Post Number: 78
Registered: 07-2004
Posted From: 76.75.114.6
Posted on Saturday, August 15, 2009 - 06:56 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

This guy is doing it.

www.worthbrewing.com
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 10596
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.141.103.148
Posted on Sunday, August 16, 2009 - 01:54 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I've met Peter Ausenhus back when he was working at Northern Brewer part-time, along with brewing part-time at Summit in St. Paul. He's very serious about beer and knows more than a little about the subject. Northwood, Iowa is a very small town (population about 2000) located halfway between the Twin Cities and Des Moines. Not that there aren't a few fans of good beer there, but it's got to be a labor of love for him.

Is he brewing only 5 gallon batches? It seems like an awful lot of work. I very briefly looked into the possibility of a commercial nanobrewery and came to the conclusion that a one-barrel (31 gallon) system using stainless drums was about as small as it made sense to build. Eventually I abondoned the idea when I realized I would be working for $5 an hour or less even if I managed to cover all the direct costs.
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 2245
Registered: 02-2002
Posted From: 71.234.45.166
Posted on Sunday, August 16, 2009 - 02:14 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

A local firefighter opened a one-barrel brewery here in town a couple years ago. He just barely made it work by brewing pretty much every day he wasn't in the firehouse. Good beer, and he started to build a local following. But the margins were wafer thin and he couldn't keep it up when his wife got sick. So he packed it in last fall.
 

Chris Storey
Junior Member
Username: Stuts

Post Number: 79
Registered: 07-2004
Posted From: 76.75.114.6
Posted on Sunday, August 16, 2009 - 10:47 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Bill, I agree. He must be constantly brewing just to keep up on his 10 gallon system. I bet he would love to get a bigger system just to get a break now and then.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 10599
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.141.103.148
Posted on Sunday, August 16, 2009 - 02:04 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

If I won a big lottery prize (not that I buy tickets more than once or twice a year) I might piss it away on a tiny brewery. At my age the day in and day out physical labor would kill me if I did it all by myself, but perhaps there would be young fools willing to work part-time for $12 an hour, free beer and the experience.

The laws in your locality and state or province make a big difference. It would only make sense if you are able to self-distribute. Otherwise the three-tier distribution system works totally against you. And I've yet to see a brewpub survive without food, which introduces an entirely new set of issues and problems.

(Message edited by BillPierce on August 16, 2009)
 

Tim C.
Member
Username: Timc

Post Number: 175
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 98.209.225.175
Posted on Monday, August 17, 2009 - 12:48 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Bill

Vist the Dragonmead brewery in Warren, MI. All brewpub, no food. They do have catalogs of take-out available. If I lived closer I would be divorced alcoholic. GREAT beer.
 

Jeff Rankert
Junior Member
Username: Hopfenundmalz

Post Number: 93
Registered: 06-2008
Posted From: 76.122.184.255
Posted on Monday, August 17, 2009 - 01:05 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Daggonmead has a microbrewey liscense. You can tell that because their beers are distributed. In MI you can only sell on site if you are a Brewpub. Many micros here don't serve food, some do.

Draggonmead has a 3 bbl system. They make about 40+ styles. The one I like best is the Mild. Many of the German beers are not close to what I remember in Germany, so I drink the Mild.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 10600
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.141.103.148
Posted on Monday, August 17, 2009 - 02:01 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Yes, I've been to Dragonmead. They're a bottling brewery with a successful tasting room that is something like a bar (they're open rather late and do a good weekend business). They serve no food other than basic snacks, but have menus for local takeout places that deliver.

Jeff, I thought some of their Belgians were all right, especially the tripel.

(Message edited by BillPierce on August 17, 2009)
 

Jeff Rankert
Junior Member
Username: Hopfenundmalz

Post Number: 94
Registered: 06-2008
Posted From: 76.122.184.255
Posted on Monday, August 17, 2009 - 12:26 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The Final Absolution Tripel is their best known. A few years back they had made it sweeter to do better in competitions. A few friends, and one is a National judge, consider it too sweet now. But they have won some awards with it.
 

Dan Listermann
Senior Member
Username: Listermann

Post Number: 6738
Registered: 03-2004
Posted From: 74.83.191.159
Posted on Monday, August 17, 2009 - 02:20 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Great Crescent Brewing in Aurora, Indiana brews on a Brew Magic system - about four times a day.

http://www.gcbeer.com/
 

davidwaite
Senior Member
Username: Davidw

Post Number: 1996
Registered: 03-2001
Posted From: 65.163.6.62
Posted on Monday, August 17, 2009 - 02:24 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Peter at Worth Brewing, which was mentioned above, is also using a Brew Magic. For that part of the world and taking into account his patrons I would assume that is all the production he needs.