I’ll bet there a lot of home brewers and entrepreneurs out there that are kicking around the idea or temptation to start a brewery. As you have seen in my blog and tweets, the craft beer business is still growing but it is starting to flatten a bit so if you are going to do it, waiting may not be the best move.
My advice to the home brewers looking to take the next step, consider starting a nanobrewery first. This is a brewery with a batch capacity of less than three barrels. Sell to a couple of select bars or restaurants and leverage the uniqueness of the limited production. See http://beervana.blogspot.com/2013/01/brewery-categories-defined.html for brewery size definitions and categories. My second bit of advice is get the skills and education to be a master brewer, doing this as a hobbyist is going to make things a lot harder. My third bit of advice is find a business minded guy or gal that can help you with the business end. It would be a bummer to put out a great product only to fail due to blowing the financial side of the operation.
For those business minded people out there thinking about opening a brewery for the business of it, recruit a great master brewer. A great business plan with financial backing is going to fail every time if you can’t put out a good product. The best beer comes from those brew masters that have the education, experience, and willingness to create products that the masses like. I’m not saying conform, but a really unique beer that few people like is hard to build a business on. I’d also recommend some investing in focus groups, find out what your market likes and what is missing in the market before jumping into production of any one style.
Lastly, for either group, be sure there is still an unmet need in your regional market. As we know the craft beer industry almost always has to start regionally and if your region is saturated breaking in is going to be an uphill battle. But with that said, the world can always use another spectacular beer, or two, or three so BREW ON!