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General Category => Going Pro => Topic started by: Jimmy K on August 08, 2013, 08:18:55 PM

Title: Brewing for food commercially
Post by: Jimmy K on August 08, 2013, 08:18:55 PM
My wife keeps wondering if we, hypothetically, were to open a bakery or some other food related business that made food with beer (like beer bread, beer chili, beer cupcakes, etc) - and we wanted to brew the beer that we used to cook with - would we need a brewery license or could we basically homebrew and use that.
 
My logic: We'd be a commercial business making beer, so yes we'd need a license even if it's not consumed. But then, another thread about honey vinegar made me wonder.
 
Her logic: The beer is an ingredient and we're not selling or serving it directly to anyone, so we should not.
 
Of course, we both kind of agree that this situation might not be realistic. Who'd want to own a brewery that can't serve beer - and customers would likely be disappointed if they can buy products made with your beer but can't actually drink your beer. Still, I'm curious.
Title: Re: Brewing for food commercially
Post by: In The Sand on August 08, 2013, 08:55:19 PM
Isn't it sort of like growing your own tomatoes for a tomato soup? Your not selling the beer as "beer". So it makes since to me that you wouldn't need a license. However, my opinion means absolutely nothing when it comes to matters of the law.
Title: Re: Brewing for food commercially
Post by: kramerog on August 08, 2013, 09:27:48 PM
A few thoughts:
Title: Re: Brewing for food commercially
Post by: morticaixavier on August 08, 2013, 09:32:40 PM
something to consider is that it's not actually that difficult or expensive to get licensed as a brewer. The barriers to entry into the industry have to do with other economic factors of starting up and making a living from the beer you brew. The federal licensing doesn't cost a dime. The only expenditure associated with it is the brewers bond. State and local fees vary but are often not all that large. Vermont for example is around $150.00. Calfornia, around $200.00.
Title: Re: Brewing for food commercially
Post by: tcanova on August 08, 2013, 09:39:00 PM
something to consider is that it's not actually that difficult or expensive to get licensed as a brewer. The barriers to entry into the industry have to do with other economic factors of starting up and making a living from the beer you brew. The federal licensing doesn't cost a dime. The only expenditure associated with it is the brewers bond. State and local fees vary but are often not all that large. Vermont for example is around $150.00. Calfornia, around $200.00.

In Arkansas it is around $500.00 to get your native brewer's license and if you can pass health inspections for a bakery you would certainly pass for a brewery.
Title: Re: Brewing for food commercially
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on August 08, 2013, 10:12:10 PM
Yes you will be a brewery and you will need a license. As PO g as you make fermented beverage these rules apply.

If you do not want to sell your beer and just to sell beer bread and other stuff made with beer why you just do not buy some one else beer.
Title: Re: Brewing for food commercially
Post by: phunhog on August 09, 2013, 04:08:55 AM
Interesting hypothetical question :o  I think you would not have to have a license. Here's why. Let's say you made your beer bread or beer battered fish and chips with commercial beer.   Since technically you are "serving" beer... Would you need an alcohol license and be required to buy your beer through a distributor since you are a "commercial" enterprise? Pretty ridiculous. The other technical point is that the food products wouldn't contain any alcohol. The alcohol would be cooked off...thus you aren't selling alcohol. I agree with your wife the beer is an ingredient....homebrew or commercial.
Title: Re: Brewing for food commercially
Post by: cheshirecat on August 09, 2013, 04:52:11 AM
Interesting hypothetical question :o  I think you would not have to have a license. Here's why. Let's say you made your beer bread or beer battered fish and chips with commercial beer.   Since technically you are "serving" beer... Would you need an alcohol license and be required to buy your beer through a distributor since you are a "commercial" enterprise? Pretty ridiculous. The other technical point is that the food products wouldn't contain any alcohol. The alcohol would be cooked off...thus you aren't selling alcohol. I agree with your wife the beer is an ingredient....homebrew or commercial.

While logically that would make sense but we are taking about the government. I certainly think a licenses would be needed. If you use commercial beer you are buying it from a company that already has a licenses and meets government regs.  It's not just about the alcohol, it's also about insuring that a food product meets regs.
Title: Re: Brewing for food commercially
Post by: AmandaK on August 09, 2013, 12:12:31 PM
The other technical point is that the food products wouldn't contain any alcohol. The alcohol would be cooked off...thus you aren't selling alcohol.

This isn't entirely correct: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooking_with_alcohol#Alcohol_in_finished_food (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooking_with_alcohol#Alcohol_in_finished_food)

And yes, I'm referencing Wikipedia, but I doubt everyone here has a subscription to America's Test Kitchen so I left that link out.
Title: Re: Brewing for food commercially
Post by: reverseapachemaster on August 09, 2013, 01:57:51 PM
That's not something I've researched, so I can't provide my professional opinion on this one, but it seems like the production of beer is a necessary and indivisible part of the bakery so you are commercially brewing within the confines of the bakery and that would make it subject to licensing. Unlike growing your own vegetables, all alcoholic production is regulated. You must receive a license to brew beer or meet the homebrewing exception. If you do not get licensed then you would have to meet the homebrewing exception. Since you are not brewing this beer for consumption within your own household then it probably does not meet the exception.

Might be easier to find a local brewery to contract brew a small batch of your recipe for use in the bakery.
Title: Re: Brewing for food commercially
Post by: morticaixavier on August 09, 2013, 02:37:30 PM
Interesting hypothetical question :o  I think you would not have to have a license. Here's why. Let's say you made your beer bread or beer battered fish and chips with commercial beer.   Since technically you are "serving" beer... Would you need an alcohol license and be required to buy your beer through a distributor since you are a "commercial" enterprise? Pretty ridiculous. The other technical point is that the food products wouldn't contain any alcohol. The alcohol would be cooked off...thus you aren't selling alcohol. I agree with your wife the beer is an ingredient....homebrew or commercial.

While logically that would make sense but we are taking about the government. I certainly think a licenses would be needed. If you use commercial beer you are buying it from a company that already has a licenses and meets government regs.  It's not just about the alcohol, it's also about insuring that a food product meets regs.

there are 0 federal food safety regs regarding beer production. so long as they get their tax money they are happy. There may be local food safety regs and they may or may not apply to a brewery but they will for sure apply to a bakery.
Title: Re: Brewing for food commercially
Post by: denny on August 09, 2013, 04:03:52 PM
Talk to a lawyer or your local alcohol control people.  The rest of us are just guessing.
Title: Re: Brewing for food commercially
Post by: bluesman on August 09, 2013, 04:24:37 PM
Talk to a lawyer or your local alcohol control people.  The rest of us are just guessing.

+1

Great advice.
Title: Re: Brewing for food commercially
Post by: Jimmy K on August 09, 2013, 05:22:20 PM
Talk to a lawyer or your local alcohol control people.  The rest of us are just guessing.

+1

Great advice.

Believe me, if it was more than hypothetical I wouldn't trust advice from you guys ;) (gals included too).

Not legal advice anyway. ;)

Title: Re: Brewing for food commercially
Post by: phunhog on August 09, 2013, 08:29:56 PM
I bet Sean Paxton aka....The Homebrew Chef would probably know.  He uses beer (homebrew and commercial) in a variety of recipes and puts on paid dinners. 
Title: Re: Brewing for food commercially
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on August 10, 2013, 02:43:32 AM
I bet Sean Paxton aka....The Homebrew Chef would probably know.  He uses beer (homebrew and commercial) in a variety of recipes and puts on paid dinners.
That is interesting point but it is pretty much straight forward.

As long as you are making fermented malt beverage NOT for your own consumption, you need to pay tax on it / have a license. There is no wiggle room. Federal government supersedes any state and local ordinances. This means that state/ local government can make it more restrictive but NOT less restrictive.
Title: Re: Brewing for food commercially
Post by: phunhog on August 11, 2013, 04:43:31 PM
So I went and asked a retired CA ABC officer this question. She responded here...http://theliquorlicenseadvisor.com/blog/?p=69#comments

I was curious for my own sake in regards to commercial establishments cooking with beer/liquor.