According to the American Homebrewers Association, there are approximately 1.2 million people who homebrew in the United States alone. That’s over a million people with the knowledge needed to start brewing beer commercially. But for those who want to enter this exciting industry, they’ll need to make a few choices beyond selecting the hops for their recipes. You must decide on the identity of your business. Knowing the difference between starting a brewery and a brewpub is the first step.
What Are Breweries and Brewpubs?
For those who aren’t familiar, the terms “brewery” and “brewpub” might sound interchangeable. However, there are distinct differences between them that you can’t ignore. Their main difference stems from how they distribute their handcrafted beers. Independent breweries primarily sell their beer to vendors. Brewpubs may also sell their beer to vendors, but they sell the bulk of it in their bar and restaurant.
Starting a Brewery
A lot goes into opening a brewery before you even get to the beer making. You must raise funds for the building, equipment, and other necessities. The brewery also needs to acquire a state license, a Brewer’s Notice, and a Brewer’s Bond from the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. From there, owners need to find an ideal building and choose beer brewing equipment to fit the demand. At that point, the only thing left is to seek out employees to make the beer, and distributors to buy it.
Starting a Brewpub
A brewpub must follow all the steps mentioned, and then add a restaurant and bar. Owners need to register brewpubs as food facilities with the FDA. Depending on the state, they may also need a specialty license specific for brewpubs. As you attempt to put together your personal repertoire of craft beers, you will also need to develop a menu, as well as a kitchen staff that can prepare it.
The food aspect is the main difference between starting breweries and brewpubs. If you aren’t prepared to run a restaurant, start with a brewery. After you get that down to a science, you can try adding a pub later.