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is it possible to go "semi-pro"?


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#1 pickle_rick

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 05:17 AM

I watched a show on PBS the other day that was about the numerous new breweries in NH.  They mentioned how it's $240 to get a license to make and self distribute if you are under X barrels per year where X is some reasonably large number for a small brewery.

 

It kind of has me wondering - is going semi-pro even reasonable as a side job?  If I were automated enough and making large enough batches could it make sense?  It would be something more like funding a hobby than making serious money (at least the start).  if I could just pay off the equipment with profit in a few years it seems like it might be worth it.

 

or maybe I just really  hate my day job right now.


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#2 pickle_rick

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 05:20 AM

I think this was the film: https://brewhampshirefilm.com/

 

I'm not sure if you can stream it on pbs right now or what.  might have to set up a proxy server in NH to watch it :P


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#3 drez77

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 05:54 AM

White Birch started that way.  Not my favorite brewery by far but they were successful starting that way.  NH needs some new blood in the beer scene .. do it!!


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#4 pickle_rick

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 06:52 AM

White Birch started that way.  Not my favorite brewery by far but they were successful starting that way.  NH needs some new blood in the beer scene .. do it!!

 

I haven't tried anything from them for years.  I had a beer that was obviously not supposed to be sour that tasted sour.


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#5 pickle_rick

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 06:57 AM

https://nhpr.org/pos...r-boom#stream/0


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#6 the_stain

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 07:48 AM

I don't see why you couldn't do this, but I wonder if you'd have to carry a certain amount of liability insurance and whatnot that might end up taking a big chunk of the profits out, if you were selling to the general public.
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#7 denny

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 09:01 AM

I watched a show on PBS the other day that was about the numerous new breweries in NH.  They mentioned how it's $240 to get a license to make and self distribute if you are under X barrels per year where X is some reasonably large number for a small brewery.

 

It kind of has me wondering - is going semi-pro even reasonable as a side job?  If I were automated enough and making large enough batches could it make sense?  It would be something more like funding a hobby than making serious money (at least the start).  if I could just pay off the equipment with profit in a few years it seems like it might be worth it.

 

or maybe I just really  hate my day job right now.

 

only if you want to work your butt off for no money.  The ROT is that 3 bbl. is the minimum to even have a chance to make money.  There are isolated examples of people doing what you propose, but the reality is that you just can't make it like that.


Edited by denny, 11 May 2017 - 09:02 AM.

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#8 drez77

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 09:06 AM

only if you want to work your butt off for no money.  The ROT is that 3 bbl. is the minimum to even have a chance to make money.  There are isolated examples of people doing what you propose, but the reality is that you just can't make it like that.

Huh, I thought it moved to 15 bbls


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#9 pickle_rick

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 08:23 AM

I just think it would be nice if there was a way to get started at your own pace.  not to make money but to at least break even over the course of a few years without killing yourself.  it would at least be a nice way to finance equipment.

 

eta:  I'm not sure what the rules are on location either.  like if I added a room/area to my house would I be allowed to produce on site?  I remember moonlight meadery was initially in that guys garage.  he might have even started in my town - I can't remember.


Edited by Evil_Morty, 13 May 2017 - 08:26 AM.

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#10 pickle_rick

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 08:38 AM

shouldn't schwanz be in here?


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#11 drez77

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 09:25 AM

I just think it would be nice if there was a way to get started at your own pace. not to make money but to at least break even over the course of a few years without killing yourself. it would at least be a nice way to finance equipment.

eta: I'm not sure what the rules are on location either. like if I added a room/area to my house would I be allowed to produce on site? I remember moonlight meadery was initially in that guys garage. he might have even started in my town - I can't remember.


I was at that garage to pick up some bourbon barrels!

I know here zoning will not allow it to be at a home or even the same property. The extra commercial space gets expensive.
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#12 pickle_rick

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 05:54 AM

I was at that garage to pick up some bourbon barrels!

I know here zoning will not allow it to be at a home or even the same property. The extra commercial space gets expensive.

 

so that's kind of what I'm wondering.  if I'm not burning money on a location every month and my recurring cost is just the yearly $240 to produce and self distribute I'd really just be in on the equipment and ingredients.


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#13 SchwanzBrewer

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 10:04 AM

It's a volume based business. If you are just distributing then you need to be even bigger than if you are just running a tap room.

 

The former requires a 7bbl brew house minimum and 15 - 30 bbl fermenters plus a brite tank per 4 fermenters plus so much work that it's all you'll do for 80+ hours a week. Investment will be between $250k and $500k depending on your local codes and laws. Break even is around 3000 bbls. The logistics mean this is completely a full time gig. 

 

The latter likely requires (depending on local laws) rezoning for serving alcohol and a minimum of 3bbl brew house with 3bbl fermenters and brite tanks. You need to serve* around 250bbls to make money. Investment can be as little as $100k if you are lucky and that doesn't necessarily need to be spent all at once. Customers are getting pickier about the breweries they go to and things like location are mattering more and more every day. So if you are located out of the way you better be serving damn good beer, not just average homebrew. Also consider serving food the revenue could make life more bearable and attract more patrons. If you think this is a viable route for yourself then go get colorado boy's books. (other book) Tom Hennessey has been successful for a long time. He might not have the perfect way to do things, but it's tried and true.

 

*serve as in sell. You probably will brew about 300bbl to serve 250 assuming $5/pint.

 

Part time - it's a giant pain in the ass to brew beer and run a business. The only reason to do it part time and for as little investment as possible is to have enough revenue and business age to qualify for a loan to go bigger and/or prove the strategy to an investor (assuming you don't have $500k lying around burning a hole in your pants). If Florida's laws were more generous, I'd have gone this route a couple years ago. I already brew on a pilot system, I just can't sell the beer. I would probably already have a viable and growing brewery if that was the case.

 

Little math for you so you can run some numbers. You can fill a fermentor 17 times a year on average. Go from there.


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#14 codemonkey

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 11:38 AM

There are couple nano breweries in Loudoun county, VA that seem to be part time. They don't seem to be much more than homebrewers with bigger equipment. They're only opened on the weekends, and even then only half the day, and have a taproom and do growler fills. No bottling, no distribution. They don't sell food due to VA restaurant laws (if you sell food then half your income must come from food), but skirt around that by having a food truck set up in the lot.


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#15 SchwanzBrewer

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 02:34 PM

There are couple nano breweries in Loudoun county, VA that seem to be part time. They don't seem to be much more than homebrewers with bigger equipment. They're only opened on the weekends, and even then only half the day, and have a taproom and do growler fills. No bottling, no distribution. They don't sell food due to VA restaurant laws (if you sell food then half your income must come from food), but skirt around that by having a food truck set up in the lot.


That's great if you own a piece of property or your rent is ridiculously low.

At least around here you'd never make enough money to cover rent.
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#16 SchwanzBrewer

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 05:01 PM

Sorry my response might have been curt, I had to go to my moms.

 

Doing it part time can be done. There's some guys on Probrewer.com that have done it. Here's the thing though, this is a business and it can be cut throat. If your beer is good you will sell ALL your beer. Demand will rise and you will have a whole new set of problems by trying to keep up.  If you can't keep up with demand then you lose tap handles and they can be tough to get back considering how large the market has become.

 

The whole point of owning a business is to earn money. You can't lose track of that.


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#17 Hines

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 06:52 PM

What if you had a building where you brewed and lived? Seems very advantageous tax wise
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#18 drez77

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 07:40 PM

What if you had a building where you brewed and lived? Seems very advantageous tax wise


Not legal here I am pretty sure.
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#19 pickle_rick

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 04:10 AM

What if you had a building where you brewed and lived? Seems very advantageous tax wise

 

that would be great.  no idea on the rules in my state on that.  I think the guys at able ebenezers might be living on site part time but I'm not sure if that's strictly kosher.


Edited by Evil_Morty, 25 May 2017 - 04:10 AM.

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#20 denny

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 10:01 AM

Not legal here I am pretty sure.

 

AFAIK, that's true most places.


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