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daveaohio 10-11-2012 01:08 PM

Starting a nano brewery/brewpub
I was wondering if anyone out there has started a nano brewery or brewpub, if so what minimum start up cost would be, especialy in Ohio

TopherM 10-11-2012 02:43 PM

There's a guy in our brewclub that started a nano brewery/taproom. He has a 55 gallon Blichmann system, several fermentors, packages everything in tall 1/4 barrel kegs. He has a walk-in cooler that has three temp zones for fermenting at different temps within the same cooler, which was the biggest expense of the whole operation (I think he said that alone was $12,000). He has like 14 taps in his tasting room, 8 of his own brews and 6 guest taps from other local breweries. He is located in an industrial park a little off the beaten path, so I'm sure his rent is pretty low. He charges $5.00 a pint right now and the taproom is doing pretty well on Thursday-Sunday. He's still waiting for the proper licensing to distribute to local bars.

He started with $20,000 in kickstarter funds and another $20,000 of his own $$$ for the equipment for a 1+BBL nono-brewery, not including whatever he pays in rent. He's been open since August.

That's about the minimum for a small, nice local nano brewery/taproom.

s1080 01-27-2013 01:21 PM

Hey Hey!

Been a while since I've been on the ole Home Brew Talk however during my time away I've been working on a nano brewery start up called the Frothy Beard Brewing Company in Charleston, SC. Just last week we got our federal papers in and are still waiting on state. Though I am by no means an expert there are a couple things I have learned that you should consider when choosing between a Nano Brewery and Brew Pub. First of all, brewpubs are incredibly expensive. The funny part is that it's not the brewery section that creates this expense but the restaurant part. Multiple employee's, health insurance, workman's comp, taxes, licensing, building costs, and food expenses mount up quickly. Here in Charleston, I wouldn't even think about starting a brew pub without $200,000.00 in the bank. (and that money should be used to secure a larger loan to even get into the ballpark) There are exceptions however; I have often thought of a brewcafe type thing that would require the menu to be heavily limited and cheap with little to no food prep experience to prepare but if you are here in SC you won't be able to distribute and sell beer out of the cafe/pub. You have to choose one or the other.

Getting back to your question, we are starting with a large amount of equipment that we already own and even then we are required to heavily modify it so that we can cut corners. (IE turning our boil kettle into an electric kettle to save money on fuel) We started this project about 3 years ago and I estimate that our total money spent right now is probably near the $20k region for everything. Keep in mind that this number also reflects the fact that we had to finance our kegs because if we were to buy them outright the kegs alone would cost $13,600.00 for 200 1/6's and I'm talking about the plastic sankes, none of that fancy schmancy aluminum people keep talking about. That goes for fermenters too. Don't even think about aluminum. You can't afford it. I would say as a general rule that if you require anything made out of aluminum you should immediately think can this piece of equipment be made out of plastic and still perform the same function? That thought alone will save you hundreds of dollars for your start-up. Also, glycol systems are out the window as well because you won't be able to afford the aluminum conicals, let alone the ones that are jacketed, so expect to keep a large enough space at fermentation temps.

Here in the wonderfully conservative state of South Carolina breweries aren't allowed to serve pints, only 4, 4oz tastings and growlers. Also, the three tier system still reigns supreme so distribution cost is a factor as well for us. It sounds like TohperM's fellow brewclub member lives in a much more suitable state with more flexibility. We chose to start in South Carolina because the laws are changing rapidly, the market isn't over saturated and Charleston itself has a vibrant local scene.

Hope this info helps!


Atonk 01-27-2013 01:31 PM

I drew up a business plan for one here in WI (decided it's not for me). I couldn't do it for under $3 - 400,000 unless I planned on keeping my full time job. I did quite a bit of research on it and there are people that get them off the ground for a lot cheaper; you just have to make some compromises and work your tail off.

s1080 01-27-2013 01:34 PM


...you just have to make some compromises and work your tail off.
That is an excellent point Atonk. I feel that I should add that I have two other business partners and we are going to be brewing 5 times a week to meet our income needs.

el_horno 01-27-2013 02:27 PM

I have had the idea to start a Brewing co-op of sorts, a hands on approach to teaching locals to brew beer and possibly wine. 5-10 work stations where people can pair up and work together to brew beer. With an onsite home brew store, of course for those who were ready to jump in.

One other caviate is that I would like to sell my own limited and small batch kegs at a friends restaurant in the area. And I dont mean to hi-jack this thread but if you have any information you could provide id be grateful.

Toying with the idea of this being a non-profit as well, at least to start gauge success and then convert to for profit as necessary.

I am in NC and I have found the state permits website, where do i find the federal ones?

bad67z 01-27-2013 02:55 PM


I would suggest talking to some of the local homebrewers and or S.O.D.Z. members that have turned pro here in central Ohio.

Weasel Boy Brewing
Jay is a great guy and I'm sure he could be a great help.

Buckeye Lake Brewery I don't know the owner personally, but Mike Byrne the head brewer has been there from the start, he is also the club newsletter director and photographer.


el_horno 01-27-2013 03:09 PM


Piratwolf 01-27-2013 03:10 PM


Originally Posted by el_horno (Post 4831990)
I am in NC and I have found the state permits website, where do i find the federal ones?


brewmastercontrols 01-27-2013 03:25 PM

I had a bookmark on my old computer for a website that was quite a resource for a microbrew/nano startup. The website was the blog of a failed startup, in the end they posted all of their .xls files, and other resources for others to download and use. It was very detailed, and the last blog post was something along the lines of "with great sadness we have given up our quest"...

But now, one new computer later I have lost the link and I must be feeding the wrong key words to google as I can not find it.

Does anyone know this site? I have lost the link and need it back!

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