Brewing a Business

How to Open a Brewery

So you want to open a brewery? Join Allan Branch, founder of History Class Brewing, as he takes you from why and where, to how.

This course is available to Industry All Access subscribers (subscribe today). Or can be purchased a la carte below.

Buy $99.99 Login Watch Trailer


Opening your own brewing business can intimidate and overwhelm, but in this course Allan Branch breaks the complex task into easy-to-follow segments that highlight the questions you’ll need to answer for yourself. This course includes more than two hours of video highlighting what to consider when planning, building out, and opening your dream brewery.

Instructor(s): Allan Branch


1. Getting Started: Ask the Big Questions

In this lesson, we explain why we wanted to open a brewery, what kind of brewery we wanted to create, and where we thought the best location would be. These are the big questions you’ll need to answer for yourself before getting started. Among the things to consider: whether you want to open a neighborhood brewery, a distribution brewery, or some combination of both; reaching out to other brewers for advice without wasting their time; local laws and zoning ordinances and how they affect your location; convenience, walkability, and parking issues; buying or leasing, and understanding the fine print on your lease agreement; choosing a building; and more.

2. Planning Your Business

In this lesson, we dig into the nuts and bolts of the business side of the brewery. We’re talking LLCs, expenses, attorneys, and how to avoid ego-driven decisions that can mess up the business. Among other things, we discuss: options for raising funds, including loans and selling equity; setting up basics such as website and bookkeeping without over-spending; choosing a partner; knowing and leveraging your interests and your strengths; planning conservatively for the “next likely step”; balancing the scale of your business and avoiding ego-driven decisions; thinking through what you want to do about food; and the benefits of hiring an attorney to help manage licenses and permits.

3. Empathetically Designing a Brewery Space and Customer Experience

In this lesson, we dive into the customer’s mind to create a space that hopefully will help them reach their goals of having a great experience at the brewery. It’s all about empathy. Along the way, we consider how to take advantage of location (location, location); lighting and brewhouse visibility; designing a taproom to make things easy, clear, and comfortable for guests; understanding sound and facilitating conversation; the importance of sturdy, comfortable seating that lasts; weighing the headaches and benefits of having a kitchen; balancing production size with seating area, depending on the kind of brewery; prioritizing empathy for your customers; and more.

4. Construction: Building the Brewery

In this lesson, we’re going to build the brewery. This part can get tricky because you’re going to have to loop in contractors, fire marshals, utility companies, and a bunch of tradespeople to complete the job and pass the final inspection. Specifics we discuss along the way include finding and working with an architect; planning for local approvals, impact fees, permits, and contractors; communicating with the fire marshal in advance; knowing the local requirements for sprinkler systems; knowing and planning for utility needs, and taking advantage of utility incentives; choosing a contractor; planning and building in the cooler; and prioritizing external visibility with signage and lighting. Plus, we’ll take you on a tour to show you the how and why of our own brewery layout.

5. Marketing Your Brewery

In this lesson, we build our tribe by bringing them along for the ride. For us, marketing isn’t rocket science. We just focus on storytelling, keeping folks informed about what’s going on with the brewery, and—above all—being kind. What will be your brand and your story? We discuss engaging your customers and keeping them informed; telling stories that matter to them and don’t become tiresome; coming up with a meaningful name for your brewery; helping your customers feel like they’re part of something; designing a timeless logo in a style that you like; when to trademark, and when to defend your trademark; and more.

6. Running Your Brewery Business

In this lesson, we’re going to show you how we run the business. We’ll go over expenses, POS systems, and the most important component of our business: the team. It’s these folks that transform the brewery into a memorable experience for our customers. Among other things, we also get into the importance of cash flow; the benefits of overestimating expenses and under-projecting revenues; labor costs and building a great team; empowering your team to be creative and welcoming; choosing a point-of-sale system that works for your business; deciding on business hours; and more. Plus, we go over some key lessons learned after our first two years in business.

7. Stamped Building Plans | History Class Brewing

For a practical view on how brewery building plans can look, here’s a peek at the plans for History Class Brewing Company.

8. Build a Business That Lasts | Brewing a Business

We're going to identify what make a business fail, and how to fix those issues before it's too late.