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Once you’ve decided to start a small brewery, determined what equipment you’ll need, worked out your costs, and written a business plan, there are a number of key decisions you’ll need to make.
Starting a small brewery: A Guide for Entrepreneurs
Here are just four decisions that are important and that you’ll need to spend time thinking about.
1. Will you use cans or glass bottles?
While costs could affect your decision to sell beer in either cans or bottles, when it comes to ensuring your beer remains high quality, it’s probably best to use cans.
That’s because cans, unlike glass bottles, don’t let UV light in.
When UV light enters glass bottles, it can potentially create off-flavors. Furthermore, cans have less chance of oxygen getting inside.
If you do decide to sell your beer in cans, you’ll need to learn about controlling craft beer canning quality.
Selling canned beer is not only a wise decision because you can maintain higher quality beverages. It’s also a good choice because more people buy cans of beer than they do bottles of beer. In fact, recently, 85% of national packaged beer in the U.S. was sold in cans.
However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t sell bottled beer instead. You should carefully look at costs and quality measures to decide which option is best for you.
Of course, you also have the opportunity to sell your beers in both cans and bottles. But when you’re just starting out, it’s probably best to choose just one packaging option.
2. Will you sell seasonal beers and beers with limited availability?
You’ll need to decide what types of beer you will brew. Also, to stand out in a marketplace that is beginning to become crowded, it could be a good idea to sell seasonal beers or other beers that are only available for limited periods.
Of course, you should also sell some varieties of beer all year round, but by offering limited products that have unique taste profiles, you can attract a large proportion of craft beer drinkers, as drinkers of craft beer always want to try new and exciting flavors.
Whether you sell beers that are only available at certain times is very much up to you, so consider the cost of brewing different beers compared to how much seasonal and limited beers can bring you in revenue and help you to increase your brand awareness.
When you’re starting a new small brewery, you may want to focus on the flagship beers you will sell all of the time before looking at expanding your production.
3. How will you market your brewery?
You could produce the best beer in the world, but if you don’t focus on your marketing strategies as much as you focus on the brewing process, you won’t be able to reach a wide audience and make your brewery a success story.
Therefore, you need to decide what your different marketing strategies will be early on.
For instance, you could:
- Utilize social media platforms to build brand awareness and attract new customers.
- Partner with influencers.
- Approach industry magazines and websites that could write features on your brewery and products.
- Attend industry events.
- Make use of online paid ads.
4. Will you launch a taproom?
You’ll need to look at different distribution options. You could sell your beers to both independent stores and national or global stores. You could also sell directly to consumers.
For the latter, you could sell via your website. But you also have the option to sell directly to consumers by opening a taproom at your brewery site.
Having a taproom gives you the opportunity to not only sell beers directly. You can also put on beer-tasting sessions and tours of your brewery to open up new streams of revenue.