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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Beer Discussion > Advice to sell home brew??
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Old 02-25-2009, 12:14 AM   #11
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There's a ton to consider. You cannot brew out of your garage. The FDA will want to inspect your setup, and it needs to be a freestanding building that is zoned for business and that will meet safety regulations.

You need a business license.

You need a microbrew license. These seem to be reasonably cheap in CA, but dependent on location, it might be difficult to obtain.

You'll need to figure out where to legally acquire kegs, and you'll need a keg washer. Remember that ball locks aren't going to fly in a bar.

There's potential that you'll need to work with a distributor. Some places have contracts that forbid them from buying direct from a brewer, and some places have laws that limit that as well. California allows self-distribution, so that's a plus.

If you plan to bottle anything, be ready to fight for label approval. You MUST have an approved label in order to sell beer, and that includes approved artwork, warnings, and you have to apply for the UPC code. A bottling line will probably be necessary to make up for the volume you'd need to deal with all this.

Insurance will be necessary. If you're selling anything consumable, people could come after you with a variety of potential lawsuits, regardless of quality. Additionally, if you have anyone working with you, you'll need to consider safety and insurance for that as well.

You'll need to figure out the cost effectiveness of getting supplies, where to store them, and what potential yeast banks you'll be using.

The problem with selling homebrew is that you'll never be able to make enough in your garage to offset the cost. If it were even legal to do so.

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Old 02-25-2009, 12:58 AM   #12
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+1 on Feather River Brewing, Roger is a great guy. I think that 10 gallon setup at a brewpub is a spiffy idea as well.

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Old 02-25-2009, 01:23 AM   #13
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My friends keep asking me how much it would cost to make a batch of "________" and that they would pay for it. I figure that so long as they give me money, and I go and buy the ingredients with that money and "donate" my time, thats its pretty much as legal as it can be.

To this point though, beginning a nano-brewery is something that I think we all toy with around here, the legalities though are such that they remind me of a famous quote, " Walls are not erected to keep us from doing what we want to do, they are there to keep those out who do not have the drive and the ambition to scale that wall."

The other day my brother sampled one of my beers, looked at me, and said, "You're retarded, why don't you go to school and become a brewmaster instead of working that crappy job you have? This is the best beer I have ever had." Well... time and money prevent me from doing what I really want.

To the OP, hope that you find a way to realize your dream. And let us know if you do.

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Old 02-25-2009, 03:00 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carnevoodoo View Post
The problem with selling homebrew is that you'll never be able to make enough in your garage to offset the cost. If it were even legal to do so.
I've never specifically looked at commercial brewing at home, but I don't think it's possible. Health codes don't allow you to cook foods for public consumption in home kitchens, so I doubt you'll be able to brew commercially at home.

Here's a list of permits/licenses you'll need:
ATF license (from the Feds)
ABC Type 23 license (from the State of CA)
Health permit for your brewing facility (from your County)
Business license (from your City, or from the County if you're in an unincorporated area)
You might need a conditional use permit from your City, depending on the zoning

There are specialized companies out there that will help you with ABC licenses but I don't know many of them that are experienced with Type 23 licenses. If you need a name/number of a company, let me know and I'll dig up their card at work.
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Old 02-25-2009, 08:38 PM   #15
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The AHA/Brewers Association website Craft Brewing

has alot of info on turning pro.

Not going to say don't do it but the idea of just making 5 extra gallons a week and selling it through the one cool bar in you're hometown is a non-starter.

You have to think of it starting a small business (business plan, financing, etc.) with the extra hassle of the particular regulator issues.

Around here the guy from Seattle "Naked City Brewery" just went pro. (or is about to) he might be a good resource.

Sam Calagione wrote a book on his starting up that I've heard a number of Craft Brewers praise for not only giving them pointers but inspiring them as well.

The BN has had a couple of old shows with guys who've made the leap that are informative.

From what I've read and heard on podcasts a large majority of Craft Brewers were homw brewers first including Jim Koch so it can be done.

But did the OP just want help on Cali regs. If so Brewers Association is the way to go.

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Old 02-25-2009, 09:02 PM   #16
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I thought as long as your place of business didn't look like a business from the outside you could have a "home office". Sure you would have to have a separate building because of health codes but why couldn't it be on your property? Other thing is most brewers don't start with bottling as it costs too much in time and money that's usually something to aspire to when your successful so I don't know if you would need a label initially. I have been thinking about doing this for some time now, I think I would just rent a space in some industrial park and then if it doesn't work out I don't have to eat the cost of a new structure. Here in Oregon we can't self distribute so for me that is something that is a big hurdle as it would be very expensive to have a distribution company deliver 20 kegs of beer a week. Alternatively I have been thinking of opening a pizza joint or something and just selling on premise.

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Old 02-25-2009, 09:22 PM   #17
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Here in Oregon we can't self distribute so for me that is something that is a big hurdle as it would be very expensive to have a distribution company deliver 20 kegs of beer a week. Alternatively I have been thinking of opening a pizza joint or something and just selling on premise.
I don't think that will get you around the self-distribution issue. I know here in GA a restaraunt/bar/whatever has to have documented proof that all their beer came from a licensed distributor. GA != OR though, so YMMV.
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Old 02-25-2009, 09:25 PM   #18
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Where are you in CA? There's a U-Brew place in Huntington Beach called Brewbakers that does precisely what you're working on doing.. they might be able to give you some pointers.

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Old 02-25-2009, 10:21 PM   #19
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[QUOTE=farmbrewernw;1158841]I thought as long as your place of business didn't look like a business from the outside you could have a "home office". Sure you would have to have a separate building because of health codes but why couldn't it be on your property? Other thing is most brewers don't start with bottling as it costs too much in time and money that's usually something to aspire to when your successful so I don't know if you would need a label initially. I have been thinking about doing this for some time now, I think I would just rent a space in some industrial park and then if it doesn't work out I don't have to eat the cost of a new structure. Here in Oregon we can't self distribute so for me that is something that is a big hurdle as it would be very expensive to have a distribution company deliver 20 kegs of beer a week. Alternatively I have been thinking of opening a pizza joint or something and just selling on premise.[/QUOTE

I can remember what publication I read it in, but anything to be brewed for public sale can't be brewed in a dwelling. You also have to have the proper commericial zoning.

to the OP if you haven't already try...

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Old 02-25-2009, 10:28 PM   #20
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[QUOTE=Yankeehillbrewer;1159023]

Quote:
Originally Posted by farmbrewernw View Post
I thought as long as your place of business didn't look like a business from the outside you could have a "home office". Sure you would have to have a separate building because of health codes but why couldn't it be on your property? Other thing is most brewers don't start with bottling as it costs too much in time and money that's usually something to aspire to when your successful so I don't know if you would need a label initially. I have been thinking about doing this for some time now, I think I would just rent a space in some industrial park and then if it doesn't work out I don't have to eat the cost of a new structure. Here in Oregon we can't self distribute so for me that is something that is a big hurdle as it would be very expensive to have a distribution company deliver 20 kegs of beer a week. Alternatively I have been thinking of opening a pizza joint or something and just selling on premise.[/QUOTE

I can remember what publication I read it in, but anything to be brewed for public sale can't be brewed in a dwelling. You also have to have the proper commericial zoning.

to the OP if you haven't already try...

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There's a guy in PA that has a pico brewery basically in his garage. It's all set up for being a brewery and nothing else, but it can be done.

Although anything less than about 200bbl/yr as a brewpub(food) and 1000 for a micro is hardly profitable.
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