Have you ever sat sipping a locally-made beer in the pub and thought to yourself ‘I could do better than this’? It’s the dream for many beer lovers to start producing and making money from their own craft ale and if you feel there’s a gap in the market for a product that you could create, then why not start your own microbrewery?
Here’s what you need to do to get started.
Get the skills
This one is obvious – if you’re going to start up your own microbrewery then you are going to need to master the art of brewing beer. It’s one thing to love drinking the stuff, but learning how to brew, create flavours and improve your creations are all vital if you want to make a truly quality beer that people will want to drink.
It’s possible to do everything from full-time three year courses in brewing to one day courses that give you the basics and allow you to work from there. Experience Day companies like Into the Blue are offering a range of courses to whet the whistle and brew up a nice new hobby come career. There are also amateur brewing organisations that you can also provide you with help and guidance on your quest to become a master brewer. Of course it’s also invaluable to befriend experienced brewers and learn from their successes – and failures.
Practice home brewing
Once you’ve acquired the skills, it’s time to put them to use. But before you get into the idea of brewing for other people you need to make sure that you can make a beer that you like to drink. This is time to hone the craft and develop the kinds of beers that you think other people would enjoy. Once you have been able to successfully create beers that you and your family and friends actively like drinking, it could be the time to look into setting up a microbrewery.
Focus on a certain aspect of a beer that you are trying to achieve. What do you like from the beers that you drink – and can you achieve a better product than the large brewers? If so, it could be time to look into the market to see whether your microbrewery could be worth investing in.
Understand the market
If you ever want to see any return on the investment it takes to start a microbrewery then you need to understand the market. Who is going to buy your beer? And how much beer are they likely to need from you? Talk to local independent pubs, restaurants and bars, as these are likely to be your most important customers, especially early on.
Ask them the key questions to establish how likely it is that you are going to be able to sell your beer. How often do they work with new suppliers? Are there any products that they are struggling to find enough of? Once you have been able to gather information you will be better able to see a pathway to your microbrewery. If you find that finding somewhere local that is likely to buy your products is a challenge, you may need to look further afield to larger markets.
Find a way to finance your microbrewery
Many people don’t realise the kind of financial input that is necessary to build a successful microbrewery. Small professional brewing kits can be bought for around £15,000 but you also need to take into account costs such as bottling, packaging and marketing that can mount up very quickly. If you’re lucky enough to have the savings to put into the business, then you can get started straight away, but otherwise you’ll have to look for alternative methods of providing the capital like a business loan.
Find your premises
Got the romantic notion of setting up your microbrewery in your garage? It might seem like a nice idea and it’s perfectly acceptable if you only plan on producing a few litres of beer in your batch, but on a commercial scale you’re going to need a lot of space and that will usually involve hiring premises. Modern microbreweries set up everywhere from industrial estates to the city centre – it’s all about finding somewhere that is able to fulfil your needs. Ideally you need somewhere with high ceilings that is easy to clean and hygienic.