How To Start a Brewery {Guerilla Style}

So , you enjoy creating amazing beers at home but wonder if it might be possible to follow your dream and start your own microbrewery. But you don’t have a massive trust fund, wealthy family or large redundancy pay off to help you. Is there a way to start a microbrewery guerilla style?

Absolutely. It can be done. With a little bit of thinking outside the box, you can be creating your own amazing craft beers and getting paid for it too. Read on.

Start small and perfect your beer recipes

Don’t try to rush. Starting small gives you the time to iron out any brewing issues you may have before you make costly mistakes on a larger scale. You can hone and perfect your recipes and test and experiment at this stage without too much loss. If you make a hideous beer its no biggie. It’s all a learning curve.

Make the most of your friends love of beer. Have beer tasting parties and check out peoples reactions. Discover what works and what doesn’t. The beers people love and the ones they pour into the nearest pot plant. This is a crucial research and development stage for your fledgeling microbrewery.

Get creative with your brewery kit

At this stage you probably don’t have limitless money for a full off the peg brewery set up. No worries. A guerilla attitude is crucial here. You can create a very workable brewery yourself with DIY skills and a bit of planning. There is a wealth of information on the internet on how to put together a viable brewing system. By building this yourself you again learn more about the fundamentals of brewing.

When you outgrow your starter system you can also make use of “cuckooing”. Many breweries allow you to rent their brewery for the day, enabling you to take advantage of their larger kit and create your beer on a grander scale. This can be a useful step on your journey to a large scale brewing set-up.

Build your beer contacts

Whilst you are starting to build your microbrewery you should be also be investing time in nurturing your contacts. Join your local branch of CAMRA and get involved. Visit specialist beer retailers and introduce yourself. Go to “Meet the Brewer” and tap takeover nights in your local area and work out who the movers and shakers are. Visit craft beer bars and pubs and chat to the owners and bar managers. All these contacts will stand you in good stead when the time comes to sell your beer to local pubs and bars.

Keep it legal

When you come to launch your Microbrewery you need to stay on the right side of the law by informing HMRC about your business in order to pay beer duty and vat. In the UK, start by calling the HMRC helpline for information on where to start. Outside the UK contact the relevant government department to deal with tax. Unpleasant but necessary and they are generally a lot more helpful than you expect.

You also need to comply with your local councils rules and regulations on becoming licensed. Contact your local councils environmental health department for details of how to comply. You will probably need to go on some short courses in order to become licensed.

Grow your microbrewery

If you are starting a microbrewery on a shoe string, securing funding to grow can be difficult. Banks are unlikely to want to loan you money as the possibilities of creating massive profits from a craft brewery are relatively low. We often brew for love, not world domination. Again, a guerilla attitude is the key.

Many breweries have secured funding to expand through the use of crowdfunding. By using sites such as Kickstarter.com or Crowdfunder.co.uk you can mobilise an army of supporters to each pledge a small amount of money towards your goal. In return they may receive a reward [maybe some beer, a tshirt, branded pint glass etc,] or possibly equity in your brewery depending on how you want to set up the scheme. All that you need to invest is the time to set up and promote your crowdfunding campaign, which can be intensive.

Craft brewers, BrewDog have raised the money for all their development via their “Equity for Punks” investment scheme which uses a similar concept albeit on a massive financial scale. It allows supporters to buy into the BrewDog brand and receive perks and rewards as well as financial return. It also creates an army of advocates for the BrewDog brand.

Start organised – Stay organised

Start as you mean to go on. If you keep your brewery records organised from the start you will find things easier as you grow. This is where MicroManage Brewery Management Software can help. MicroManage is specifically designed for Microbreweries, not brewing behemoths. It is affordable for the smaller brewery and provides the facility to manage customers, sales, malt records, brew records, and simplifies the calculation of beer duty and vat returns. You can even track the location of your casks.

MicroManage allows you to dispense with a lot of complicated spreadsheets and have one easily-accessible database to store, access and manage all of the information you need to physically run your brewery.

Get yourself a FREE trial here to see how MicroManage could help you cut down on paperwork leaving you more time to concentrate on the important work of starting your own microbrewery.

Good Luck

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