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How to Start a Brewery and Create Custom Beer Labels

custom beer labelsIf you’re a craft beer enthusiast, you might have toyed with the idea of starting your own brewery. You might even have dreamed about what your beer labels would look like – whether eye-grabbing and edgy or dripping with old-world charm.

Start a Beer Brewing Business Today

Dream no more. Your logo and beer labels might not have emerged into reality yet, but you can turn that dream into real-life success starting today.

You’ll join a growing number of beer lovers who have made that same dream come true. As Crowdspring’s Katie Lundin points out, craft breweries grew from 2,420 to 6,266 between 2012 and 2017. Since then, they have grown at about a 4% rate, reflecting the nation’s burgeoning interest in sophisticated brews.

Here are some tips on how to start a beer brewing business:

How to Start a Brewery

Learning how to start a brewery seems like a tough challenge. But if you follow a step-by-step process and have the resources to invest, it can prove a wise investment. Here are the steps to success:

  • First, choose your business model: Do you plan to pair your brews with food in your own pub, or do you want to concentrate on the beer itself and sell it to distributors in your region? Or do you want to partner with another brewery in a contract arrangement in which you hire it to manufacture your craft beer?
  • Next, create a business plan: Business plans are simply documents that state the goals you’ve set for your business, along with concrete plans that outline how you plan to achieve those objectives. Unless you’re independently wealthy, financing should make its way onto your business plan as well. Lenders will want to see what collateral you have, what market research you’ve conducted, and the infrastructure you have in place to produce your beer.
  • Make sure the numbers add up: Before you do all the legwork to get your business off the ground, calculate your startup costs. They’ll include legal and permitting fees, leasing or purchasing a facility, brewery equipment costs, employee wages, insurance, food preparation and service equipment (if you’re also operating as a pub), marketing and design expenses (including beer labels and packaging) and the cost for the software you’ll use in running your business. The costs for starting a microbrewery can run upwards of $500,000.
  • Familiarize yourself with federal and state alcohol laws: Before you even consult with a lawyer, do some digging on your own. Learn what federal and state regulations you’ll need to follow to manufacture your craft brews.
  • Hire a business attorney who knows how to start a brewery: Since state laws that govern alcohol diverge widely in several areas, it’s best to hire an experienced lawyer who can guide you through the bureaucratic labyrinth. In addition, you’ll need guidance on structuring your business, setting up an accounting system, and liability issues. Having an attorney who knows how to start a brewery – and can guide you on best business practices is a wise investment in your success.
  • Apply for any required licenses or permits: While you can do your own research on which types of permits or licenses you need, it’s best to consult with your lawyer on which ones you need. An attorney can double-check your applications to make sure you’ve supplied all the information you need to receive your permit.
  • Brand your brewery: Here’s where you need to put your creative side forward. Since you’ll need to have settled on a name for your beers before the next step, you need to think about your brand identity – and what name would capture that spirit. If you can’t think up any on your own, you can usually get a copywriter familiar with the branding process to help you pin down some appropriate names. Be sure to consider your potential customers’ preferences as you plan your name and brand identity. After all, it’s they, not you, who will buy your products.
  • Register your brewery’s name as a DBA: After you’ve settled on a name that sets your brand apart from all the others, you’ll need to file a DBA (doing business as) certificate to secure the right to use that name on your craft beers.

Get Down to the Nuts and Bolts of Starting a Microbrewery

Now that you’ve done all the background work, it’s time to start hiring and start brewing. Start slow and build up to full capacity gradually.

When you start a beer brewing business, it’s easier to fix mistakes you make on a small scale rather than if you’d jumped into starting a microbrewery at full capacity.

Choose the Right People to Brew Your Beer

Hire people who are as passionate about fine beer as you are. Hiring and retaining quality people is the best investment you can make in your business. Resist your urge to micromanage. Hire people who know what they’re doing – and free them to do their work.

Choose the Right Printer for Your Custom Beer Bottle Labels

Before your beer bottles start rolling out of your facility, you’ll need to choose a printer with experience in labeling food and beverage products. Knowledge of the regulations that govern custom beer bottle labels is only one side of the coin.

A printer who knows how design enters into the equation can make or break your business. After all, your custom beer bottle labels must compete with a growing number of competitors. You need a label that jumps out at your customers – one that says, “Buy me.”

You’ll need to consider which type of bottle labels will best reflect your brand. For example, if your brand reflects sustainability, you might choose a wood-finish label. On the other hand, if glitz is more your jam, you can choose a metallic-toned film for your custom beer bottle labels.

Choose the Right Distributor

Finally, only one thing remains in your journey toward starting a microbrewery – distribution. If you’ve purchased the trucks and trailers you need, you’re a step ahead. However, many startup breweries contract with distributors to get their beers into stores.

Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure that the distributor is enthusiastic about your beers, committed to marketing them to the stores they cover, and has access to stores that your target customers frequent. Additionally, if you plan to expand your business into other regions, make sure they cover those territories.

After you’ve done all the preparation work to start a beer brewing business, get in touch with a printer with experience in both the regulatory and design end of beverage labeling and packaging. There are laws that need to be followed when creating labels as in the example of nutritional facts for wine labels. The Nova Custom Label Printing team has that experience and is ready to help get your business off to a great start. Contact us today to share your plans!


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