Starting a craft brewery. When dreams become reality. Part 2

| september 23, 2013

Let’s get one thing straight from the start. If you think you’ll get by starting a craft brewery on passion alone you won’t. Passion is vital, but it’s not enough.

Passion will be the thing you’ll need to cling to when you feel like you’re drowning in legislation and delays. It will be your airbag upon the impact of countless setbacks. But to start a craft brewery you’re going to need three other things that are just as important: money, time and lots and lots of friends.

Building a craft brewery isn’t cheap, no matter how many ways you twist and turn the figures in an attempt to convince yourself it will pay itself back in the first year. Because it won’t.

Breweries are hugely capital intensive. Not only do you need to buy a brewery set-up (either used, which means cheaper but more modifications, or new, which means expensive but oh so shiny!) but you also need somewhere to put it.

Finding the right location for your brewery is crucial, and ideal locations are few and far between. It took almost a year for me to find mine, and even then it needed months of work before we could even bring the equipment in.

Hoses and drains will become your best friends!

Hoses and drains will become your best friends!

In my experience some of the best places to look for are car garages or redundant restaurants. Both tend to have easy-to-clean surfaces and good drainage – which are critical for any would-be brewer, as you’ll be spending most of your time splashing around in water.

Buying your brewery and finding somewhere to put it are probably the most capital and time intensive phases of a brewery start-up. They demand huge outlays and the signing of scary contracts and they’ll no doubt be the stuff of nightmares around 2am in the morning as you pace the living room trying to remind yourself why you wanted a brewery in the first place.

Make sure any potential investors or banks know that it’s going to be an uphill battle from the beginning, with little or no turnover to show for hundreds and hundreds of hours of unpaid work. Convince them there’s a top to that hill, and that once you reach it…….

All of the above takes time of course, and time eats away at money. So it’s important that once you’ve found the right place you act swiftly to install the brewery. And here’s where, as I learnt the hard way, things can get expensive really, really quickly.

It’s pretty easy to buy a brewery set-up, especially if you’re buying it new and out of the box. However you should never underestimate the costs and work involved in putting it all together, plumbing it in, pulling in the power and connecting the water. All this requires the involvement of several professional trades – and they’ll be throwing invoices at you faster than Mikkeller produces new beers.

You can try and save some of this expense by doing as much stuff as you can yourself. And that’s when you’re going to need your friends and family around you. Because those boys from Liverpool were right – you won’t get by without them!

I’ve saved probably the most boring bit for last. However you won’t be opening your brewery at all unless you deal with…..the authorities.

Never lose faith! One day you'll be making beer!

Never lose faith.  One day you’ll be making beer!

I have discovered so many local government departments and services I never knew existed over the last year that I’ve lost count of them. Every one of them is important of course, from fire to the local water company, but there are three that you must pay particular attention to: the tax authority (skatteverket) which ultimately decides if you and your location are both approved for brewing beer, the Food Agency (livsmedelsverket), and Environmental Health (miljö- och hälsoskydd).

Make an effort to get to know your point person from each authority and constantly ask them questions. In my experience you’ll often be learning along with your local authority representative too!

And that leads me nicely to my last bit of advice for now – question everything! Never be afraid to reach out to the amazingly generous beer community, to your friends or to the authorities if you need help. It’s amazing how many people are prepared to lend a hand, to give you a push when you feel most stuck.

In part three: Still want to open your own brewery? Good! I’ll give you five more things to think about, and we might even get around to talking about beer!

Text: Darren Packman

Photos: BeerSweden



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Category: Articles in English, Om BeerSweden, Senaste Nytt

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  1. Eddy skriver:


    What permits do I need to start brewing and selling beer? Where do I find those permits?