Beer brewers really get the short end of the stick in this country. I'm sure this varies by state, but in Missouri it seems way easier to get a winery up and running than a brewery.
State Winery license fee- $5/500gal - includes being able to make, distribute, and sell retail by the bottle and by the glass on the same premises.
State microbrewery license - $5/100bbl - may not distribute, or own a distribution company.
State 22%-and-under alcohol manufacturer license - $200/year, requires you to buy separate wholesale license for $200 to distribute, additional $300 retail-by-drink license if you want a tasting room.
The winery license allows you to ship direct-to-consumer. For any type of malt beverage, you have to go through the 3-tier system. Even if you go the route where you're technically a "manufacturer" and own your own distro company, you still have to pay the taxes for selling it to yourself. Wineries also have more lax regulation, more like an agricultural product, than breweries, which are more like a food manufacturer. As far as I've found, wineries are not regulated by the FDA, while malt breweries are.
Hopfen: I actually ordered Ken's book. It should get here tomorrow. I can't wait to read it.