By Jerry Mooney
It's no secret that beer is hot property these days. The real ale phenomenon has taken over and more and more people are ditching their premium draft lagers for independently brewed concoctions. The Brewer's Association undertook a study in 2015 that showed breweries in America had reached a high not seen since the 1800s. As of November 2015 it was recorded that there were 4144 breweries in the country, surpassing 1873's record by thirteen. Bart Watson, head economist at the Brewer's Association, described the increase as a 'remarkable achievement'. So if you're thinking of embarking on a beery business venture, what exactly will you need to do?
Brew at home
No first brew ever made it onto the shelves at the store or behind the bar at your local. You will need to brew your own mixes at home for months, maybe even years, before you have perfected your art. Buy some cheap, commercial home brewing kits to get you started. Invite your friends round to test the finished product - chances are they won't need much persuading! Providing all goes well, you may need to invest in a bigger brewing space and some more technical equipment. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to come cheap. Specialist equipment can be expensive but you will need the real thing if you're going to sell the product on. Send out some free samples to local bars, pubs and shops, and see what feedback you get.
Get a brand together
The world of breweries and microbreweries is a heavily saturated market these days. If you want to reach any level of success, you're going to need to stand out. This is why your branding is so important. Think about what goes into your beers and what you want to stand for. Having a clear identity is integral to getting people to remember you. If you're feeling witty, come up with some kind of pun. There is a New Zealand brewery called Yeastie Boys who have found enormous success thanks to their name. In 2016, the most important aspect of your branding will be your online identity. Make use of web development services who will be able to design you a stylish and fully functioning website that will draw your customers in. Create a buzz about yourselves on social media and interact with local beer associations for press coverage.
Decide how you are going to operate
Once you start selling to pubs and official beer stockists, you may find that you are struggling to keep up with demand. When this occurs, you might have to take the plunge and invest in a proper brewery space. The most common way to do this is to buy a disused space, such as a warehouse, and install your own equipment. You will also need to decide what your overheads are going to be, especially if you need to employ more staff. All breweries start off bottling their beers by hand, but if demand is high, this simply isn't feasible. Therefore, you may need to invest in a bottling machine, plus expert staff who can operate it. As your success grows, you will make more money but may also need to get more people on board, so consider this in your budget.
Jerry Mooney is co-founder and managing editor of Zenruption and the author of History Yoghurt and the Moon. He studied at the University of Munich and Lewis and Clark College where he received his BA in International Affairs and West European Studies. He has recently taught Language and Communications at a small, private college and owned various businesses, including an investment company. Jerry is committed to zenrupting the forces that block social, political and economic justice. He can also be found on Twitter @JerryMooney