Quantcast

Has Anyone Here Had Their Beer Sold Commericaly?

Aussie Home Brewer

Help Support Aussie Home Brewer:

mattric

Well-Known Member
Joined
5/2/09
Messages
75
Reaction score
3
I've just started doing all grain brewing and I've found out that I love brewing.

I was wondering if anyone here, besides Doc, has had their beer sold commercially and how they found the process? How successful was you endevour?
 

newguy

To err is human, to arrr is pirate
Joined
8/11/06
Messages
2,225
Reaction score
33
I don't think there's a single homebrewer that hasn't thought of going commercial. I know quite a few microbrewers and every one of them started off homebrewing. Although they're all now commercially successful (by "successful" I mean that they can pay their bills and have a little left over for themselves), they all had some very lean years in the beginning.

One of them had this advice when it came to planning a brewery: double your anticipated costs and quarter your anticipated sales and you'll be close to reality.

You need to be a jack of all trades, not afraid to turn a wrench or re-wire a pump. You won't have the luxury of new equipment because you won't be able to afford it. You will survive with used equipment, some of it ancient, and it will need maintenance.

You will lose entire batches, especially in the beginning. Some to infection, some to equipment malfunctions, some to things you can't possibly imagine.

You will receive phone calls from dedicated megaswill drinkers who just have to let you know that they tried your this-and-that ale and it was the worst shit they've ever tasted....why can't you make a beer more like ....? [insert whatever mega-brand you can think of here]

You will receive regular pleas from charities or events for free beer.

And of course you have to factor in the long hours spent in near 100% humidity and 40C+ temperatures one minute and ~0C the next [imagine shoveling out the mash tun then running into your cold room to attend to the beer you're filtering/transferring to the bright beer tank].

It's something I've definitely thought about but if I were to take the plunge I'd open up a brewpub instead of a brewery. The restaurant can subsidise the brewing operation in the beginning, and you usually have smaller batch sizes in a brewpub as opposed to a brewery - less to lose when a batch goes south.
 

mattric

Well-Known Member
Joined
5/2/09
Messages
75
Reaction score
3
A brewpub would be amazing however I was thinking more about contract brewing where another company does all of the brewing for a cost but also meaning I don't have to buy all of the equipment.
 

newguy

To err is human, to arrr is pirate
Joined
8/11/06
Messages
2,225
Reaction score
33
That's an option but there is still a lot of paperwork and licensing hoops that you'd have to jump through. You also need a market/storage for every bottle the contract brewer produces for you - once they bottle it, they're going to want it out of their brewery. Assuming the worst, you'd need both cold storage space for the entire batch and transport for it. Regarding transport, of course you can hire a trucking firm for that but how are you going to move around full pallets of beer? Unless you have a forklift, you're kind of SOL.

There is one liquor store locally that contracts special brews from various brewers. They can obviously do it because they have all the necessary bases covered - licensing, distribution, and storage.
 

///

Well-Known Member
Joined
5/9/04
Messages
4,377
Reaction score
800
" I mean that they can pay their bills and have a little left over for themselves), they all had some very lean years in the beginning.


Doesnt nearly every small business? Called starting up.


One of them had this advice when it came to planning a brewery: double your anticipated costs and quarter your anticipated sales and you'll be close to reality.

Well no, if your organised and have a plan then the 2 recent installs I have had contract business in were within their 10% contingency and had sales 3 times what they expected in the first 12 months. Helped that I filled both of these plants ...

You need to be a jack of all trades, not afraid to turn a wrench or re-wire a pump. You won't have the luxury of new equipment because you won't be able to afford it. You will survive with used equipment, some of it ancient, and it will need maintenance.

Ancient equipment ... Says who ... are we on the same planet ... there is very little used equipment on the market, and if it does pop up it sells quickly. I know ... cos' I am now looking for equipment!

You will lose entire batches, especially in the beginning. Some to infection, some to equipment malfunctions, some to things you can't possibly imagine.

Ahh, cough, what?! Dunno what brewery you have worked at, but in my watch I've had 2 dumped batches in 9 years and not one from equipment failure. Both those dumped batches were from operator error/inexperience not machinery. Infections are not acceptable in a working brewery, and they do not 'just happen'. Its called laziness or errors, they are never spontaneous.

You will receive phone calls from dedicated megaswill drinkers who just have to let you know that they tried your this-and-that ale and it was the worst shit they've ever tasted....why can't you make a beer more like ....? [insert whatever mega-brand you can think of here]

Ahh, cough, what take II?! We have people calling to get our beer because they love it, and with our sales ahead of the market average, we must be doing something right. And that is the same in the US, Canada, UK, Europe ... dont know a beer drinking country in the English speaking world where Craft Beer is not growing ...

You will receive regular pleas from charities or events for free beer.

Ahh no again, we approached one Charity 3 years ago (Amber Affair - Sydney Childrens Hospital) and now turn up happily each year.

And of course you have to factor in the long hours spent in near 100% humidity and 40C+ temperatures one minute and ~0C the next [imagine shoveling out the mash tun then running into your cold room to attend to the beer you're filtering/transferring to the bright beer tank]

Could be worse, could be sitting on my arse selling IT crap in an airconn'ed office being hassled by selfish single minded idiots ... hmm

It's something I've definitely thought about but if I were to take the plunge I'd open up a brewpub instead of a brewery. The restaurant can subsidise the brewing operation in the beginning, and you usually have smaller batch sizes in a brewpub as opposed to a brewery - less to lose when a batch goes south.

Finally some sense, but the fella did not ask about this, specifically he asked about having his beer made and selling it. In Australia, production laws and rules are State specific, the dream of doing it in your Garage in NSW is not a possibility. Some, like Doc and I have a business with a Wholesale licence attached to a building (in both instances a private house) which beer is brewed at on contract and then sold.

For me, I do or can do all the items required in the brewey and do this at Young Henrys. Due to clashes, last month I had 8 batches brewed in 6 days, I could not get to Rouse Hill to get the Pale done (far from means there is any less love), but will be up their tomorrow filtering.

The easiest way to start, from a production view is keg. The easiest from a sale view can be bottles. Kegs are harder to sell into a pub, bottles require larger production volumes and alot more cash (think of all that packaging required). Anyways, the production side is the easiest, the sales side is the hard part. Hence why I stick to production, Nick does our sales ... and never the 2 shall meet ...

Scotty

edit: damm quote things broke ...
 

MHB

Well-Known Member
Joined
1/10/05
Messages
5,927
Reaction score
3,369
Location
Newcastle
There is very little profit on bottled beer, the company doing the brewing will want to get paid and there goes a big fraction of your profits.
Kegs well there you go spending money on equipment, kegs arent exactly cheap, you will need a minimum of three batches worth before you start.
The only way to make even a reasonable return on investment is to sell your own beer on your own taps and keep as much of the return as possible.
Its a hard industry to get started in; you need capital, good beers and a very good business plan, even then there are no guarantees.
Mark
 

newguy

To err is human, to arrr is pirate
Joined
8/11/06
Messages
2,225
Reaction score
33
Doesnt nearly every small business? Called starting up.

...if your organised and have a plan then the 2 recent installs I have had contract business in were within their 10% contingency and had sales 3 times what they expected in the first 12 months. Helped that I filled both of these plants ...
Of the 3 microbrewery owners I know, all have said that if it wasn't for their wives' jobs, they would have went under. All expected not to turn a profit initially, but all were surprised at how long it took to be profitable. In one case, approx 5 years before he was able to start paying himself. And all 3 make very very good beer (and did right from the start too).

Ancient equipment ... Says who ... are we on the same planet ... there is very little used equipment on the market, and if it does pop up it sells quickly. I know ... cos' I am now looking for equipment!
Used equipment must be easier to come by here in north america then. There is, however, a significant price difference between the really old stuff and the slightly used stuff. Most guys just starting out end up getting the really old stuff (round here anyway).

Ahh, cough, what?! Dunno what brewery you have worked at, but in my watch I've had 2 dumped batches in 9 years and not one from equipment failure. Both those dumped batches were from operator error/inexperience not machinery. Infections are not acceptable in a working brewery, and they do not 'just happen'. Its called laziness or errors, they are never spontaneous.
In this part of the world it's very difficult to hire someone for the rates a brewery can pay who aren't.....let's say just north of "special". Most high school dropouts can work in the oilpatch and clear $100k/year in short order, or at least 3x what they'd make as a labourer in a micro. Operator error is a very real issue and can lead to lost batches if your helpers are cutting corners with the sanitation. As far as equipment failure, two of the micros I'm familiar with suffered cooling plant failures in the middle of summer and ended up with saison-ish pale ales. Not infected, true, but not really ready for sale either. Another had a rash of infections which were traced to their chiller - which was gummed up with slime that survived the daily flush with hot caustic and subsequent acid sanitation. I have to agree that this wouldn't just happen if they had bothered to do maintenance on the chiller. ...But they didn't.

Ahh, cough, what take II?! We have people calling to get our beer because they love it, and with our sales ahead of the market average, we must be doing something right. And that is the same in the US, Canada, UK, Europe ... dont know a beer drinking country in the English speaking world where Craft Beer is not growing ...
You're lucky then. The 3 guys I know all have regularly updated stories involving someone calling them up to bitch about how their beer is the worst they've ever tasted and that they're going to stick to their Molson/Labatts/whatever, thankyouverymuch.

Ahh no again, we approached one Charity 3 years ago (Amber Affair - Sydney Childrens Hospital) and now turn up happily each year.
Again, you're very lucky then.

Could be worse, could be sitting on my arse selling IT crap in an airconn'ed office being hassled by selfish single minded idiots ... hmm
Although I enjoy brewing, I thank my lucky stars that it's just a hobby for me. I like my air conditioned office way too much. ;)

The easiest way to start, from a production view is keg. The easiest from a sale view can be bottles. Kegs are harder to sell into a pub, bottles require larger production volumes and alot more cash (think of all that packaging required). Anyways, the production side is the easiest, the sales side is the hard part. Hence why I stick to production, Nick does our sales ... and never the 2 shall meet ...
Kegs are absolutely easier but then you have to spend a lot on the kegs up front and you also have to maintain your lines whereever your beer is sold.
 

mje1980

Old Thunder brewery
Joined
14/12/04
Messages
5,630
Reaction score
1,361
Comparing selling beer commercially in two different countries with two different sets of laws is about as silly as comparing apples to oranges.
 

pcmfisher

Well-Known Member
Joined
21/11/07
Messages
1,259
Reaction score
232
What if your beer isn't actually as good as you think it is?
 

mwd

Awful Ale Apprentice
Joined
25/7/08
Messages
2,513
Reaction score
83
I think WSC who posts on here went from being a homebrewer to Commercial brewer. His products can be found in a few pubs down Brisbane way.
 

edschache

Well-Known Member
Joined
19/6/11
Messages
353
Reaction score
24
If you want to talk to a homebrewer who's successfully gone commercial wait for Ross to swing by. His beer is everywhere you stop in Brisbane now.... well ok... everywhere I stop :)
 

shaunous

I Drink VB
Joined
1/8/12
Messages
2,528
Reaction score
488
Finally some sense, but the fella did not ask about this, specifically he asked about having his beer made and selling it. In Australia, production laws and rules are State specific, the dream of doing it in your Garage in NSW is not a possibility. Some, like Doc and I have a business with a Wholesale licence attached to a building (in both instances a private house) which beer is brewed at on contract and then sold.
Hey Mate,
Can you elaborate on this, are you saying a Micro Brewery cannot be set up like a winery/vineyard/cellar door in NSW, where do I find the laws and so on like this, I realise the local council has alot to do with it, but is there laws they have to follow somewhere, or some set of guidelines you have or know of that I could get a look at to legally set up a micro. Is there environmental guidelines? Health & Safety guidelines? Building guidelines? Or is everything basically council specific and all the OLGR cares about is the license itself.

I also personally look at it like any small business, know your product, which in this case is beer, and before you even start the business do your research, will people buy your product, will they feel they need it, is your product any good, give it away as samples out the front of bottle shops and get feedback before jumping in and trying to sell something only your mates think tastes great. Like all small business courses say, prepare to suffer a loss the first couple of years...

In my case if it does happen, I dont plan on kicking anything off officially for another 2 years.

Research. research, research...

Cheers,
Shaun...
 

WSC

Well-Known Member
Joined
24/10/08
Messages
767
Reaction score
8
I think WSC who posts on here went from being a homebrewer to Commercial brewer. His products can be found in a few pubs down Brisbane way.
Yep, I have been doing it for 18 months. It's slow going if you are trying to work another job.

Not sure i can add much to what has been said.

Get your brews and do samples, work out if you want to do it, get licence, find a brewery to produce in and then sell.

As others have said if you want to make a income to live off then you need funds to ramp up production. I don't make a living from my sales, it's a hobby and a way of learning what I need to do to take things to the next level.

Also don't do it if you LOVE brewing unless you are lucky enough to be like Scotty and have a business partner that can do all the other stuff and leave you to brew.

Most of the work is sales, marketing and admin.

It's tough going but **** it's good watching people pay money to drink pints of your beer!

edit - I don't really consider myself as a brewer as I come up with the recipes based on my brewing experience at home but get others to brew, I can have as much or as little involvement in the brewing
 

Greg.L

Well-Known Member
Joined
15/3/09
Messages
721
Reaction score
62
If you live in regional NSW it is a lot easier because you are allowed to sell by the bottle as well as wholesale, in cities it is only wholesale. You can't sell at farmers markets the way wineries can, but that doesn't stop a distiller at our local farmers market.
City councils would also make things difficult, regional councils are a lot more flexible about small businesses.

As others have said, selling is the hard part.
 

mattric

Well-Known Member
Joined
5/2/09
Messages
75
Reaction score
3
Thank you all for your responses.

I would love for my beers to be so fantastic to create such a demand that I could sleep on a pile of money but I know this isn't the case. For money I'll stick to buying lotto tickets.

What my goal is, is to be able to walk into a pub, like Harts or the Local taphouse and see my beer on the tap list. If it makes me some extra pocket money then great but I don't want to end up remortgageing my house for my hobby. This is my first step in my 'dream'. If it works out, then great I'll see about bottling and going more mainstream and if it doesn't then such is life.

/// and WSC, how did you guys approch the contract brewer? What have been you biggest blockers and how did you go about getting your beer to be sold by pubs/bottleshops?
 

Jay Cee

Well-Known Member
Joined
25/5/12
Messages
345
Reaction score
0
/// and WSC, how did you guys approch the contract brewer? What have been you biggest blockers and how did you go about getting your beer to be sold by pubs/bottleshops?
If you're getting your beer contract brewed from the outset, you don't need to know anything whatsoever about brewing, and a whole lot about being a top sales & marketing guy.

There are far better business models than entering a bloated beer market, with a spread of under 5% of the population as your target customer base. May as well invest in some Llamas.

And Harts (where /// was - or is still - the brewer), and the Local Taphouse are inclined to stock craft beer made with passion at genuine craft beer brew outfits, or at least deal with brands that have put in the hard yards to make a name for themselves as brewers, not marketeers, and then go on to require contracted services (good ol' Murrays springs to mind).
 

shaunous

I Drink VB
Joined
1/8/12
Messages
2,528
Reaction score
488
Hi WSC,
As far as getting your beer brewed by a contractor, the profit margins im reading and hearing around the place are small enough when your wholey running your own outfit, do you feel your better off or worse off doing it your way, contracting it out? How much time would you spend marketing /selling your beer, would it be equivalent to the amount of time you'd spend to brew? Do you think if you had a partner you'd go back to brewing yourself.

Cheers,
Shaun...
 

///

Well-Known Member
Joined
5/9/04
Messages
4,377
Reaction score
800
Hey Mate,
Can you elaborate on this, are you saying a Micro Brewery cannot be set up like a winery/vineyard/cellar door in NSW, where do I find the laws and so on like this, I realise the local council has alot to do with it, but is there laws they have to follow somewhere, or some set of guidelines you have or know of that I could get a look at to legally set up a micro. Is there environmental guidelines? Health & Safety guidelines? Building guidelines? Or is everything basically council specific and all the OLGR cares about is the license itself.
Hi Mate

Sorry to confuse. Liquor 07' allowed Brewers to sell via a cellar door, in 2009 it was further ammended to allow pack sizes of any format ('07 dictated 330ml bottles).

So you can, and many brewers in NSW leverage the cellar door system. But, it then falls in NSW to zonings of activity, which are part State (they set the masthead rules) and then to the local Councils 'Local Environment Plan' (LEP). Usually the minimum in NSW is class 3A if not 4A type classification (light industrial-med industrial). But developments can be approved in tourist type zonings or things like farms/rural environments. But with a suburban house, I think you'll be told to keep on dreaming.

You are right, '07 changed the NSW laws to make OLGR an approver, with the leg work needed to be done by the local Council, unless theres serious reason for OLGR not approve, once the DA is approved they pass the application.

But that said, each liquor license in NSW should be treated as unique ... there is no usual outcome it seems

Scotty
 

shaunous

I Drink VB
Joined
1/8/12
Messages
2,528
Reaction score
488
Hi Mate

Sorry to confuse. Liquor 07' allowed Brewers to sell via a cellar door, in 2009 it was further ammended to allow pack sizes of any format ('07 dictated 330ml bottles).

So you can, and many brewers in NSW leverage the cellar door system. But, it then falls in NSW to zonings of activity, which are part State (they set the masthead rules) and then to the local Councils 'Local Environment Plan' (LEP). Usually the minimum in NSW is class 3A if not 4A type classification (light industrial-med industrial). But developments can be approved in tourist type zonings or things like farms/rural environments. But with a suburban house, I think you'll be told to keep on dreaming.

You are right, '07 changed the NSW laws to make OLGR an approver, with the leg work needed to be done by the local Council, unless theres serious reason for OLGR not approve, once the DA is approved they pass the application.

But that said, each liquor license in NSW should be treated as unique ... there is no usual outcome it seems

Scotty
Hi Scotty,
Thanks for the informative reply buddy.
I Have a farm and I didnt realise you could get away with the relaxed laws with breweries like the wineries and vineyards do, this is a damn good thing, I've also done half of the Enology/Wine Science degree (Had to stop due to me currently working very long shifts in the jungles of PNG). My plan is to save like all hell while i'm here which I've done for the past near on 2 years, move back down to my farm and continue my brewing/distilling/wine making. My love definitely is with beer so i'll probably head this way, but i'd rather keep it local and just pay my time and cover my costs if that can be achieved. If I was in a city I wouldnt even bother competing with others. If all else fails there is always plenty of work for Diesel Mechanics :p

Again, thanks alot or your reply buddy.

p.s. Sorry for the HiJack Mattric :D

Cheers,
Shaun...
 

Latest posts

Top