How Much Does it Cost to Start a Brewery?

Initially opening its doors as a nano, Doug's brewery now has a beautiful 10bbl setup.
Initially opening its doors as a nano, Doug’s brewery now has a beautiful 10bbl setup. Here she is in freshly-installed glory.

For Doug and I, there’s little more fun than helping out soon-to-be brewery owners very early in the planning process. Doug’s family owns a brewery in Asheville, North Carolina, so he’s been right there, and like many readers here I’m a proud homebrewer with my own aspirations.

When we get on a call to discuss a start-up brewery’s plans, a topic that often comes up is the cost of opening a brewery. That’s understandable, and apart from forum fodder and some speculation, there aren’t too many hard numbers tossed out there to help breweries in general business planning. So, to benefit some hopefuls and help fuel business planning, here are some starting-point figures. Of course, take these for what they are. There’s no rule, and plenty of creative business models work, with breweries getting their doors open (and rapidly expanding) for less than what’s noted. However, it can help to see numbers to get a sense of reality, as a starting point for that business plan.

Here are some general minimum brewery start-up costs:

Nanobrewery Start-up Costs: $50,000

7bbl-10bbl Production Brewery Start-up Costs: $250,000

10bbl-15bbl Brewpub Start-up Costs: $500,000

Packaging and Production Brewery Start-up Costs: $1,000,000

These brewery start-up figures are helpful estimations—but shouldn’t be discouraging. Breweries have achieved significant fundraises, where the founders put in very little (to none) of their own start-up capital. The market is not yet showing signs of stopping, and there are likely many investors out there who are curious about the beer world and willing to jump onboard, so long as a solid business plan and investment structure is in place.

Ultimately, with a savvy CPA and experienced brewery legal team on a start-up’s side, a brewery can get the pieces in place to make a great pitch, and without too much up-front expense either.

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