« on: September 25, 2012, 06:56:36 PM »
I think a lot of it depends on how much money you're trying to raise. If you're starting relatively small, you might be able to gather some friends and family to sign promissory notes for your startup capital. You're not transferring any ownership and assuming things go well, they will net a decent return on their money. If things don't go well, it can be structured as an unsecured loan and you won't be on the hook to pay it back (though you might permanently damage friend/family relationships). Hopefully you incorporated and they are entering into agreements with your corporation.
As you look to get bigger and raise more money, there are lots of clever structures that can work without ceding operational control or even ownership in the brewery itself. For instance, an LLP could buy/own all the equipment using the equipment as loan collateral within the LLP and then the LLP could rent the equipment to an operating LLC. This has lots of advantages, perhaps the biggest being if the LLC goes belly up, the equipment is still safe with the LLP. Plus the LLP can't necessarily exert any real operational control over the LLC. So you're a little better insulated against investors trying to impact brand/marketing/etc.
Again, hopefully if you have business partners, you've incorporated and you're bound by an operating agreement that you all agreed to; an operating agreement that you had your personal attorney review to be sure your personal interests were looked after. Further, if one or more of your partners will be doing duties day-to-day at your brewery, while others may be in a more visionary/investor/hands-off role, hopefully you drafted an employment agreement that outlines what your responsibilities are, what your compensation is, and what the procedures for amicably splitting up, etc. are.