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Old 03-19-2012, 02:59 AM   #1
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Default Nanobrewery at the farmers market?

This is something that won't happen for several years, but I have had this idea spinning in my head for some time now and I want to figure out whether:

a) This is legal
b) This is practical

As soon as we can afford to, my wife and I plan on buying some land in the country. I want to grow fruits and vegetables and sell them at farmer's markets. I notice the Bloomington, Indiana farmers market has a local winery that sells their wares, which gave me the idea of trying to sell beer there too.

My plan would be to brew on a nano-scale and every week bring 2-3 different beers in corny kegs (which I would rotate weekly) and sell growlers. I could also sell the occasional super-fancy beer (sours, barley-wines, etc.), which I would sell in bombers. If for some reason they don't allow growlers, I would bottle my beers in Grolsch bottles and charge a bottle deposit. I would also want to sell kegs to local restaurants, but I don't want to focus on that now.

I checked Indiana state brewing laws and couldn't find anything about farmers markets. I suppose I can contact the gummint, but I was hoping I could get an answer here first. I also want it to be known that I haven't really researched the financial aspect of this, so don't bite my head off if something like this is not financially sound.

I also wanted to know how interested you fellow homebrewers would be in getting growlers filled at a farmers market. I personally would look forward to being able to go every week and purchase beer. I'm hoping others feel the same. I've also considered opening the brewery to the public, but that is entirely dependent on how far out in the country I live. I would also be interested to hear what people would think about going to a brewery that is a bit off the beaten path, so long, of course, as the product and ambiance are quality.

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Old 03-19-2012, 03:30 AM   #2
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Beer laws vary state to state and are almost always different from winery laws. My guess would be that if your States laws allow you to sell directly to the consumer (like in some States breweries can sell at the brewery) then you could. I would contact someone in your local or state government.

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Old 03-19-2012, 03:30 AM   #3
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My first thought would be profitability when you consider the licensing involved. Odds are, the winery you speak of isn't only selling at the farmer's market. That would be the first thing I would look into. If the farmer's market is going to be your only outlet, profit margin would be my concern.

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Old 03-19-2012, 03:40 AM   #4
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I read a homebrewing blog http://backyardbrewer.blogspot.com/2011/06/beer-for-food-bartering.html the guy was going to a farmers market with a cooler of bottled homebrew and trading homebrew for fruits/veggies/flowers. Seemed kinda cool. I know it's not quite what you are talking about. As far as selling alcohol at a farmers market I think it depends on the market as well. My local FM won't allow sales of alcohol.

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Old 03-19-2012, 03:50 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phunhog View Post
I read a homebrewing blog http://backyardbrewer.blogspot.com/2011/06/beer-for-food-bartering.html the guy was going to a farmers market with a cooler of bottled homebrew and trading homebrew for fruits/veggies/flowers. Seemed kinda cool.
And illegal. Bartering with homebrew is illegal based on the legislation that allows us to legally homebrew.
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Old 03-19-2012, 02:55 PM   #6
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There was a local brewery (Captured by Porches) that used to sell bottles/growlers/jars at my neighborhood farmer's market. For the bottles, they used swing-tops with a deposit as well. I haven't seen them lately, but it's been done before.

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Old 03-19-2012, 03:06 PM   #7
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First off, you need to become a BREWER, by obtaining a license to produce and sell your beer legally. You cannot sell or trade homebrewed beer legally, no matter if some other guy *thinks* he can do it at a farmers market.

There is no ambiguity in the law about this.

However, once you obtain the proper license, you could package and sell your beer just as the winery does.

Be prepared to fill out a LOT of forms, and it will probably cost more than you think to get the proper license. And there are requirements for labeling, and more than likely a requirement to produce the beer on a commercial property, not in the home...

The simple answer is that it's illegal to sell your beer, or trade it, at a farmers market. I think probrewer.com would be the next logical step to figure out what license to get in your state, and how best to obtain it.

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Old 03-19-2012, 03:14 PM   #8
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Move to France. Due to the entire history of the wine industry there are very few limitations on going commercial. In fact any homebrewer can get a license for like 1 year to even just try it. Of course the complaint is that there's no quality control and every Tom Dick and Harry tries selling their beer, and much of it is crappy.

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Otherwise in America, if it were as easy as folks think, you'd actually see it in every farmer's market. And like Az said, even bartering with homebrew is illegal.
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Old 03-19-2012, 05:10 PM   #9
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Hmm... that episode came out on my birthday.

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Old 03-19-2012, 06:48 PM   #10
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In most states (like 38 of the 50, check your state laws), you need to actually brew on premisis to circumvent the three tier system, so you'd probably have to have your actual brewery at the farmer's market in order to retail beer there. Otherwise, you'd have to sell your beer to a wholesaler in order to retail it. Even then, you have to have a commerical location in most states. There's only like 1-2 states where you can license your home as a legal brewery location, and even of those are through loopholes, not by the intent of the law.

Once you have that all sorted out, the brew on premisis licence is typically way cheaper than a full commercial brewing license. Here in FL, the brew on premisis license is about $3000-3500, though unfortunately, FL outlaws growlers over 32oz and even at that size requires retail packaging, including a proper seal and only selling beers in growlers with that beer's name on it. All this makes it very cost-prohibitive in FL. At my last check, there were only 5 places in the whole state even fooling with retail growler sales, not including brewery tasting rooms.

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