Author Topic: I just want to be able to sell my beer  (Read 4098 times)

Offline micsager

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I just want to be able to sell my beer
« on: October 27, 2011, 07:31:43 AM »
Not looking to give up my day job, or open any type of brewery, brewpub, or tasting room.  Just want to be able sell beer from time to time. 

Can this be done, while still brewing at home?

Offline Jimmy K

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Re: I just want to be able to sell my beer
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2011, 07:34:11 AM »
There may be some exceptions, but pretty much no. Among other reasons because I don't think you can get a Federal license for residential zoned space. Perhaps if you lived on a farm or had dual-zoned property.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: I just want to be able to sell my beer
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2011, 07:39:44 AM »
From what I have gathered the answer to that question is largly dependant on your local and state ordinances. However the TTB (Feds) require that the brewery be in a standalone structure. so, as far as the feds are concerned you can sell your beer as long as your brewery is in a detached garage or shed or other out building or other standalone structure. You still have to fill out a brewers notice and provide a $1000.00 bond against the excise tax that you will have to pay.

Local regs, on the other hand, can be fairly restrictive. you have to deal with local zoning for what ever structure you intend to build or modify into your brewery, and town or county health codes relating to manufacture of foodstuffs, business licences, distribution/sales permits etcetera.

I was reading about a guy in Mariposa CA that managed all this for around 3k before learning that he needed a different location for a tasting room due to local health codes. However since that happened california has loosened restrictions on nano/micro breweries and tasting rooms to make the rules conform more or less with those for small wine producers who enjoy quite a few liberties here in cali.

so yeah, you can do it with a bit of leg work and some considerable hoop jumping. Seems like the real key is connecting with zoning and health inspectors who are willing to support you in your endevour.

can you tell what I have been thinking about doing?
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Offline micsager

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Re: I just want to be able to sell my beer
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2011, 07:51:23 AM »
There may be some exceptions, but pretty much no. Among other reasons because I don't think you can get a Federal license for residential zoned space. Perhaps if you lived on a farm or had dual-zoned property.

My home is in a place zoned rural-farm, and home based businesses are allowed.  I wonder if that means a bar coulde open next door???   hmmm.  Where to start?  Years ago I got a business license "Dungeness Brewing Co." Mostly just for kicks, but to also give me some protection of that name.  I wonder if I amended that license to include brewery operations, if that would start the ball rolling, and I would see what walls present themselves......

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: I just want to be able to sell my beer
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2011, 07:56:27 AM »
There may be some exceptions, but pretty much no. Among other reasons because I don't think you can get a Federal license for residential zoned space. Perhaps if you lived on a farm or had dual-zoned property.

My home is in a place zoned rural-farm, and home based businesses are allowed.  I wonder if that means a bar coulde open next door???   hmmm.  Where to start?  Years ago I got a business license "Dungeness Brewing Co." Mostly just for kicks, but to also give me some protection of that name.  I wonder if I amended that license to include brewery operations, if that would start the ball rolling, and I would see what walls present themselves......

Call the TTB, they are there to help! the more beer being sold the more taxes and fees they collect so they really are on your side and the more you keep that in mind the more on your side they will be. Everything I have read so far seems to indicate that the real problem areas are the state/county/local authorities who might well need some education on the subject. good luck!

By the by, the feds don't really care what your area is zoned for. that is only of concern to the local authorities. All the feds care about is if the structure is attached to a home. I have even read where people simply blocked the enterance from the garage to the house and the Feds accepted that as 'detached'
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Offline phunhog

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Re: I just want to be able to sell my beer
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2011, 10:04:43 AM »
Not looking to give up my day job, or open any type of brewery, brewpub, or tasting room.  Just want to be able sell beer from time to time. 

Can this be done, while still brewing at home?
I had similar ideas so I was looking at the nanobrewery route.  I have a detached garage so the Feds and state were OK with it but my local city wouldn't allow me to use my garage for any type of commerical business.  Like you I just wanted to sell a little bit of my beer to a local bar/restaurant, I wasn't looking for a career change.  Anyways I think you have to examine your goals. Do you really want to sell your beer or are just looking for people to drink and appreciate your beer? I was the latter..just wanted to get my beer into the people's hands.  I call my little operation Two Trees Brewing Co. and say it is a "non commercial nanobrewery".  I do not and cannot legally sell beer to anyone. However I pour at beer festivals, have friends come over for growler fills, and most importantly sell brewery merchandise.  Selling brewery t-shirts has paid for pretty much all of my beer related expenses for the past six months. The best part though is I still get other people to drink my beer without all the hassles/expense of being a licensed brewery.

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: I just want to be able to sell my beer
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2011, 12:21:28 PM »
Mic, talk to the guys at 192 Brewing, Aldregrove Brewing, and any other Washington nanos you can find.  Those two are both on the owners property as far as I know, and they may be able to tell you some of the things they had to do to get going.  The rules they had to follow may have come from their county/city, but they may have come from the state so that could be helpful.

And as mentioned above, TTB will be a good resource for you.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline Jimmy K

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Re: I just want to be able to sell my beer
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2011, 01:25:16 PM »
Call the TTB...

Most government inspectors are human, and they'll be happy that someone is being proactive about compliance instead of building and getting frustrated about changes after inspection. You'll also get a feel for the attitude of the person who might be doing your inspections.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: I just want to be able to sell my beer
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2011, 05:10:32 PM »
Consider this: Our annual ABC license that allows us to sell beer is $1,000. Your local regulations may be different, I dunno, but you are going to really have to work hard to make any kind of profit on a 5-10 gallon system.
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Offline bo

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Re: I just want to be able to sell my beer
« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2011, 06:26:01 PM »
Consider this: Our annual ABC license that allows us to sell beer is $1,000. Your local regulations may be different, I dunno, but you are going to really have to work hard to make any kind of profit on a 5-10 gallon system.

He never said that he was limiting his brewing to 5-10 gallons.

Offline The Professor

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Re: I just want to be able to sell my beer
« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2011, 06:29:48 PM »
Consider this: Our annual ABC license that allows us to sell beer is $1,000. Your local regulations may be different, I dunno, but you are going to really have to work hard to make any kind of profit on a 5-10 gallon system.

Sounds right to me.
Making good beer is the easy part (as evidenced by the incredible number of new breweries that have started up in recent years). 
Getting the legal clearances and requirements out of the way (Federal, State, and Local) and developing a customer base is another story.  When all is said and done I think Keith is pretty much spot on in the assessment that you shouldn't expect to make very much money in such a venture on the scale you seem to be contemplating. 
Then again, if it's something you can afford to do for kicks (as a kind of a hobby and not concerned about profitability)  while you make a real living at something else, then go for it!
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: I just want to be able to sell my beer
« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2011, 07:04:14 PM »
Consider this: Our annual ABC license that allows us to sell beer is $1,000. Your local regulations may be different, I dunno, but you are going to really have to work hard to make any kind of profit on a 5-10 gallon system.
Yeah, but WA is a pretty brewery friendly state . . .

RCW 66.24.244
Microbrewery's license — Fee.

(1) There shall be a license for microbreweries; fee to be one hundred dollars for production of less than sixty thousand barrels of malt liquor, including strong beer, per year.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline majorvices

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Re: I just want to be able to sell my beer
« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2011, 07:29:15 PM »
Consider this: Our annual ABC license that allows us to sell beer is $1,000. Your local regulations may be different, I dunno, but you are going to really have to work hard to make any kind of profit on a 5-10 gallon system.
Yeah, but WA is a pretty brewery friendly state . . .

RCW 66.24.244
Microbrewery's license — Fee.

(1) There shall be a license for microbreweries; fee to be one hundred dollars for production of less than sixty thousand barrels of malt liquor, including strong beer, per year.

Well, that's just plum reasonable!

My main concern when people start to take homebrew to the masses is still the fact that it is an awful lot of work for such a small return. If you are brewing on a 5 - 10 gal system you will end up brewing more for bars and pubs than for yourself and you still won't be making any money and you will end up working basically for free. The most important part about homebrewing for me was having good, fresh beer on tap all the time - for ME! If you start brewing for local establishments you will not have very much beer around the house. What is worse, you will most likely have to pay to drink your own beer.

Another think to consider: pubs and restaurants start to get pissed when you can't keep up with demand. Especially if you are taking up tap space. If you can;t keep a keg on that tap most places are going to bump you for someone more reliable. An empty tap costs an establishment money.

Not trying to rain on any parades, just trying to point out a few facts folks may not have thought of. Brewing beer is a lot of work, for sure.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: I just want to be able to sell my beer
« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2011, 10:34:28 PM »
I see your point, but think of it this way Keith - if you are brewing 5 gallons at a shot you are going to have to brew so much to keep your accounts fulfilled that you won't have time to drink anyway ::)

I think if you are just trying to keep one place in beer, just for the fun of it, it's not a big deal.  But if I was going to actually try to make a business out of it I would start with 7 bbls at a minimum, only doing less than that if it was more of a bar and I planned to have guest taps.

Mic, also check out Foggy Noggin, I have heard they are helpful.  You can also talk to Nate McLaughlin, he is in the process of setting up a nano brewery right now.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline Jimmy K

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Re: I just want to be able to sell my beer
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2011, 06:11:47 AM »
I don't know what the trend in established nano breweries is, but I would think that nano brewing and kegging are not good friends economically. This is simply because your 10 gal might be worth 150 in a keg (retail), but packaged in bombers at $10 each, that same batch is worth $400.  $400 - costs and labor is not much to live on, but it is substantially better than $150 - costs and labor which is probably an imaginary number.
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