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Old 08-04-2010, 06:06 PM   #1
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Default Difficulties of selling HB

So my good friend just purchased a restaurant/bar a few weeks ago, and me and him were talking the other day, and he wanted me to sell homebrew at his bar, but I told him that I am pretty sure that there are laws/rules against that, making it really difficult to do. Since he already has an established bar with the ability to sell alcohol, how hard would it be? There is an unused room thats about 20X15 that would be perfect for brewing in. I know you guys probably get about 1000 threads a day asking on how to sell beer, but I havent read one where the person owns a bar.
Thanks

also, the state he is in is Montana if that matters.

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Old 08-04-2010, 06:13 PM   #2
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Yes, the state matters as the laws are different per state.

What you should look into/ search for is "Brew Pub". These are exactly what you are trying to do or really close to it. GL on your venture!

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Old 08-04-2010, 06:19 PM   #3
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Unless you are considering quitting your job and becoming a full time brewer, I think the general consensus is it's more trouble then it's worth due to all the laws and regulations. And yes it varies widely from state to state.

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Old 08-04-2010, 07:03 PM   #4
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In general I think he would need to get a brewpub license, and you would have to brew on his premises. That's for starters. Factor in the cost of running a brewery system capable of keeping up with demand and this is no longer a hobby, it's a job.

I know a guy who brews for a local cafe on a 20 gallon homebrew system using 40 Gallon fermenters. He has a few people helping and I'm sure it's still a bit of toiling. And your mistakes can be costly, both in dollars and in customer expectations.

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Old 08-04-2010, 07:24 PM   #5
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Well, there isn't any state were you can sell homebrew. The law states "for personal consumption", so you are talking about going pro. Anything under a half barrel system is crazy and 2-3 barrels would be better. Figure $100K and six months to two years to get going, even with the smallest setup.

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Old 08-04-2010, 07:41 PM   #6
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Here's a good thread to read: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/nano...-build-137400/.

I think you can get into it easier and cheaper than David says, especially if you're only thinking about supplying beer for your friend's restaurant. So long as he has the proper permits to sell and you get the licensing to brew and sell to him, it's possible.

I looked into what it would take, legal wise, to start a small brewery in Washington and was surprised at how cheap and easy it is. Equipment and the actual brewing would be another story.

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Old 08-04-2010, 07:59 PM   #7
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Skyzo - one cannot sell homebrew per se in Montana. You need to get a liquor license that specifically applies to microbreweries. These licenses are fairly inexpensive (a full liquor license in MT can run you $500K). Microbreweries in MT can at present only sell beer from 4pm-8pm Mon-Sat. There are also limits on how much one can consume at the premesis (3 pints - you have a wristband). I would like to get the State Legislature to extend/expand operating hours because being open only 4 hours per day is limiting to say the least. Montanaandy

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Old 08-04-2010, 08:52 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChshreCat View Post
Here's a good thread to read: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/nano...-build-137400/.

I think you can get into it easier and cheaper than David says, especially if you're only thinking about supplying beer for your friend's restaurant. So long as he has the proper permits to sell and you get the licensing to brew and sell to him, it's possible.

I looked into what it would take, legal wise, to start a small brewery in Washington and was surprised at how cheap and easy it is. Equipment and the actual brewing would be another story.
Am I wrong to say I think David was talking about including the equipment.... 100K seems about right to me?

No offense intended - but I think it would be pointless to 'start a brewery', regardless of how suprisingly cheap it is, if you do not have any equipment.

Kind of like saving your money for a tank of gas without a car.
It *is* very interesting to hear you attest to the permits and such being inexpensive, that is promising indeed. Washinton is pretty progressive that way.
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Old 08-04-2010, 09:58 PM   #9
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The feds require the beer to be brewed in a qualified building, which must be used primarily for brewing, and excludes residential houses. If you have or can get a building to brew in, the first step is to check local zoning codes and state liquor laws to see how they mesh with your brewery location and what you want to do. If it looks reasonable at those levels, get a business license and file for your brewers notice with the feds.

The brewers network has a pretty good episode all about starting a nanobrewery-
http://thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/621

It's a lot of time, work, and red tape, but in some areas it is possible. Az has some really nice distribution laws and fairly cheap licensing for microbreweries. The problem is a 5,000 gal per year minumum production to maintain a license. With my current 10 gal homebrew system I'd have to brew 10 batches a week all year long, and then figure out how to sell it all.

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Old 08-04-2010, 10:10 PM   #10
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He will need a brewpub license.

The two of you would need to purchase equipment to produce enough beer to satisfy the license, since they generally require you to produce a large volume (at least relative to what a homebrewer normally produces at a given time), or at least have the capacity to do so.

You will also have to make sure that the equipment and design satisfy not only the license rules, but also state and local health and safety requirements for restaurants and production facilities (e.g. proper drain systems, proper electrical systems, safety equipment, etc.).

In short, there's a lot of money necessary to convert a restaurant into a brew pub. It's easy to think in terms of brewing a few kegs-worth at a time and having a cheap craft beer tap on the bar, but states do not allow you to tag such small operations onto restaurants or bars. Part of the reason for that is a safety issue -- to make sure that the beer is produced in a safe and sanitary manner -- and part of it is fear of a return to the (perceived) pre-prohibition madness.

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