***NOTE: I have had two comments now from confused readers regarding my use of the term of “Pilot.” I use the term pilot to refer to a brewery’s test system – the brewing equipment used to prepare small batches of beer. My use does not include the TTB’s use in the “pilot brewery license,” which is a license reserved for educational, scientific and research purposes. That license will not allow you to sell your beer. But using a “pilot-type” brewing system, you can obtain a normal Brewers Notice. That is my intent with this article. Hope that clears it up!
The past few months have been extremely exciting. My office has been inundated with calls from brewers ready to go commercial. I am very happy to announce that Reiser Legal’s flat rate licensing packages have been uber successful – and as a result we have more beer being churned out. I only wish I could help more of you in other states (sorry guys and gals).
A trend is seriously starting to take shape – brewers are getting the TTB out of the way early on by licensing a pilot system. Whether it’s a 10 gallon system, or its a 10 bbl commercial pilot, many are finally taking advantage of the fact that a Brewers Notice can be attained much earlier than you might have thought.
I have always taken the stance that the best thing a brewery can do is get licensing accomplished as soon as possible. Waiting until you have you found investors, ordered equipment, installed equipment, ordered materials, etc. – can cost you quite a bit of money in standstill operations. Remember, the TTB and state licensing processes can take several months to accomplish.
In the past few years, the TTB has become accustomed to the “nanobrewery.” Regularly, the TTB licenses commercial brewing operations of no more than 10 gallons of production per batch. In some instances, I have seen anything from modified stovetop assemblies to standing burner setups get their TTB licenses and begin to churn out legally-salable beer.
The important things to remember are that the TTB will only license a bonafide commercial operation – which means finding zoned space capable of meeting local codes. Sometimes, it might be an industrial garage and sometimes it will be a small shed in your residential backyard. But, as long as you can meet the minimum standards, your dream of opening a microbrewery might be closer than you thought.
Knowing these things, many brewers are getting started earlier than they had hoped. By obtaining a suitable space and a reliable pilot brewing system, brewers are able to submit their application to the TTB and state licensing agencies. Once approved, they can grow organically and obtain change of locations, change of owners and other approvals required by the TTB.
Want an example? The photo above is my wife’s brand spanking new pilot system. This system will be used to submit an application to get her brewing. With the licensing processes out of the way, she can begin producing and selling beer while raising the money to start a full scale production facility.
Don’t delay the application process. Get brewing and grow organically.