Starting a brewery in a neighborhood can suggest any number of environments: a leafy, quiet town center, a bustling city block, or a suburban shopping area. The nicest part of this scenario is that it is up to you where you place a brewery because, no matter where it is positioned, it will be welcomed with open arms by the patrons who gather there. Let’s talk about what it takes to start a successful brewery and the steps you can take to move it toward success and long-term growth. 

Step 1: Assess the Potential Customer Base: the Target Audience

Before making the final selection for the location of your brewery, you’ll want to consider the individuals who will visit the brewery. Ask yourself relevant questions when considering each location under review: 

  • Are there several people out on the streets during the evening? 
  • Is the neighborhood one that is comfortable and friendly? 
  • Do the people form a community or gather around common causes? 
  • Are there commonalities among the neighbors; age, socioeconomic details, interests, etc. 

These factors will make a difference in the location you choose for a brewery, and will also inform the customers who will visit the brewery and remain for conversation. Learn as much as you can about the viability of each location under consideration before making a determination. 

Step 2:  Analyze the Competitors within the Same Region

A serious threat to your brewery will be the presence of other breweries within your geographical range. You will want to source a location that is relatively free of such direct competition. If other breweries are in the same area, determine how many customers are “regulars” and how many are new to the business. Also, check the pricing of menu items and types of beer available. Consider the kind of beer that is brewed and look for areas where your brewery can differentiate products from those of others. You’ll want to provide a unique experience that will disallow competition and reduce threats. 

Step 3:  Build a Business Plan 

A business plan is the roadmap every business needs for success; it defines the purpose, objectives and operations of the business and includes forward-looking goals, as well. If you do not have a business plan, use this brewery business plan for comprehensive guidance. Within the segments included,  you’ll complete the mission statement and objectives for your brewery, a financial plan and forecast, an assessment of the target audience, and an analysis of competitors. In addition, you’ll create marketing strategies to target your audience and ensure growth. 

Step 4:  Set up the Brewery Location and Assemble the Equipment

After building out the location for the brewery, you’ll need to set up the brewery equipment and begin producing a variety of beer choices. In addition, you’ll want to purchase indoor and outdoor furnishings, tables, linens, and other supplies to fit with the decor of the brewery. This will require a significant capital outlay; if your business plan is complete at this time, you can use it effectively by presenting it to lenders or investors who may want to offer funding. You can also approach family, friends, look for grants or try crowdfunding as alternate means of funding. Stock the brewery with office supplies, computer equipment and other administrative items, as well. Invest in a high-quality security system for the interior and exterior of the location to ensure your items do not disappear. 

Step 5:  Apply for Permits, Business License and an Alcohol License.  

The city and county of each state have regulatory and legal processes to follow when opening a business and, in particular, for a brewery serving alcohol. Allow plenty of time for these required items to be processed and mailed.

Step 6:  Select the Brewery Food Menu

If you’ve decided to offer a food menu, as well as beer, you will need to choose menu items and secure the services of a kitchen staff and servers. Offering food to complement the beer increases profitability and ensures the customers remain in place for a longer period of time, likely ordering additional beer and food. Opt for menu items that are consistently fan favorites, such as beef sliders, tacos, loaded nachos, and pizza. Such food naturally accompanies beer and is easy to prepare without difficulty. Your menu will depend on the target audience of your neighborhood and their preferences. 

Starting a neighborhood brewery is an exciting challenge and one that the entire neighborhood will appreciate. Add food fare and family selections to a menu item to extend the profitability of the venue and consider using unique marketing strategies to encourage new customers who become regular patrons. Using your business plan to make decisions and define next steps will drive traffic to your brewery and ensure ongoing success and long-term growth.