How to Write a Brewery Business Plan + Free Sample Plan

Author: Makenna Crocker

Makenna Crocker

Makenna Crocker

8 min. read

Updated February 7, 2024

Brewing beer in a brewery facility

Free Download: Sample Brewery Business Plan Template

Are you captivated by the craft of brewing beer? Enticed by the idea of making a living pouring your own beers for a crowd of enthusiasts? 

Sales of craft beer in the United States have continued to rise despite a slight downtown in overall beer sales, according to industry statistics. But to transition from craft beer aficionado to profitable brewery owner, you need more than just a robust ale — you need a solid business plan.

Need more guidance? Download our free sample brewery business plan.

Creating a detailed business plan is an indispensable step in your entrepreneurial journey.

In this article, we’ll tap into the process of writing a brewery business plan, helping you navigate from market research to financial forecasts and beyond.

Why write a brewery business plan?

Starting a brewery without a business plan is like brewing without a recipe — risky and unpredictable. The plan is where you take stock of your market opportunity, assess the competition, document your day-to-day operating needs, and more.

But it’s more than a document to lay out your vision and objectives. You’ll need a clear, comprehensive business plan if your vision hangs on securing a bank loan or getting an outside investor to fund you.

They need evidence that you understand the market, have a sound financial strategy, and a plan to grow sustainably.

Without a business plan, you’re more likely to misjudge your inventory needs.

You might miss an opportunity to pivot based on changing tastes among customers or lose sight of tactics to set yourself apart from competitors in a crowded industry. 

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1. Research the market

The competition you’re likely to face from other brewers reinforces the importance of understanding your position in the market. Especially if you’re starting a new brewery business in a larger, urban area, you’ll need to devise a strategy for entering and growing within that market.

You can start simple. Visit some of those breweries in your geographic area. What sets the popular ones apart?

Be sure to talk to customers as well.

You can also gather insights from your competitors’ social media presence and gauge how customers are interacting with them online. You should also show that you understand broader trends in the craft beer industry, such as the seasonal popularity of different beer styles.

When writing your business plan, document the following information to show that you understand your market:

  • The size of the 21-and-over population in the area you want to serve
  • The number of licensed breweries in the area
  • The number and types of other competitors (bars and restaurants, grocery stores that serve alcohol, etc.)
  • Food offerings (some states legally require breweries to provide food)

Surround yourself with the community you plan to serve to really get an idea of what excites and draws in local beer enthusiasts. Notice the kind of beer they offer, how they market their products, and the type of people that tend to enjoy what they have to offer.

Looking at your competition isn’t about trying to copy them. It’s about understanding what is already offered and determining how you can ultimately stand out.

Define your target market

Now that you’ve compiled your market research, it’s time to zoom in on the demographics of your clientele.

Are the people frequenting breweries in your area mostly younger, like college students? Or maybe they tend to be workers looking for a fun afternoon out, or tourists stopping by after taking in the main attractions in your area?

Identifying your target market is not just about knowing who will be walking through your doors, but understanding their preferences and what causes them to choose you over your competitors. Doing this effectively requires considering the demographics of your potential customers:

  • Age range
  • Occupations
  • Income

And their psychographic characteristics:

  • Lifestyle
  • Values
  • Hobbies

Are your potential customers seasoned beer experts or casual drinkers? Do they value a broad selection, or would they prefer locally sourced and sustainable ingredients?

Defining these characteristics allows you to tailor your brand’s voice, marketing strategies, and even your beer selection to resonate with your desired audience.

2. Create an operational plan

The heart of your brewery business lies in its day-to-day operations. Begin with detailing the brewing schedules, capturing the intricacies of beer production, and then customer service operations.

Your operations plan should extend beyond brewing. Include managing supply chains, maintaining brewing equipment, and ensuring a smooth workflow in areas like marketing, sales, and distribution. Address the staffing plan too, outlining roles, responsibilities, and the team structure necessary to keep the brewery running smoothly.

As you navigate through these operational aspects, it’s important to keep in mind the broader picture: stay updated with regulations and compliance standards, but more importantly, ensure these guidelines are seamlessly integrated into your daily operations.

Your operational plan should paint a comprehensive picture of how your brewery functions on a daily basis, highlighting the systems and processes that drive its success.

3. Market your brewery

Even if you have the most flavorful beer, without the right marketing, nobody will know it exists.

You need to craft a marketing strategy as carefully as you do your beer. Utilize both traditional methods, like:

  • Hosting beer release parties
  • Local partnerships
  • Advertising
  • Loyalty programs

And digital tactics, such as email marketing and engaging with your community on social media, to spread the word about your brewery.

Don’t forget to look at competitors’ presence online as well. How they engage with their followers on social media and what online reviews say will tell you a lot.

Consider these marketing tips:

Develop a strong brand

Your brewery’s brand should encapsulate what you stand for and what you offer that no one else does. Having a consistent theme across all aspects of your business, from the design of your logo and labels, to the interior of your brewery and the tone of your communication, will help solidify your brand. 

Example: If your brewery focuses on organic ingredients, this should be clear in your branding, and your marketing materials should educate customers on the benefits of organic beer.

Engage through events 

Events are a practical way to bring people to your brewery and get them talking about your beer. Consider planning events like these that are aligned with your brand:

  • Beer release parties
  • Homebrew competitions
  • Local music nights

If you have a brewery that prides itself on being family-friendly, consider hosting family-oriented events like game nights. Events like these can not only attract regular customers but also create opportunities for social media sharing and word-of-mouth marketing.

Build a digital presence

A well-designed website is crucial for a positive online presence, providing information on your beers, the story of your brewery, and details about visiting or touring. Make your website easy to navigate and update it with the latest news about your products and events.

Use social media platforms to connect with your audience by sharing news, responding to customer feedback, and promoting upcoming events.

Regular updates and active engagement on platforms like Instagram and Facebook can help maintain your customers’ interest and encourage them to visit your brewery or try your beers.

4. Financials and pricing

To run a sustainable brewery operation, you have to do much more than just craft the perfect beers — your business has to be financially viable. A strong financial plan lays out a roadmap for turning your dream into a financially successful reality.

Begin by estimating your startup costs, considering everything from brewing equipment to licensing fees.

Appropriate pricing of your beers is crucial for business profitability – it’s a balancing act that involves setting a price that covers production costs and generates profit while also being attractive enough to keep customers from choosing competitors.

When penciling out your financial plan, remember:

  • Cost Analysis: Know the cost of your ingredients and production to price your beers profitably.
  • Sales Projections: Use your market research to forecast your sales. Be realistic, but don’t forget to plan for growth.
  • Regular Reviews: Keep an eye on your financial health by reviewing your costs and prices regularly, ensuring your brewery remains profitable.

5. Set milestones and goals

Establishing clear milestones and specific goals is important for your brewery’s success. Your short term, three-month goals might include:

  • Finalizing your beer menu
  • Selling your first batch
  • Hosting a successful grand opening

These early goals focus on launching your operations and establishing your brand in the local market.

Looking further out, your three-year objectives could involve more ambitious goals like:

  • Reaching a certain production milestone
  • Expanding your distribution to multiple states
  • Opening a second taproom

Long-term goals should also include financial benchmarks, like achieving a break-even point and possibly hitting specific revenue targets.

For example: By the end of the first quarter, you might hope to have a solid customer base and consistent foot traffic with regular events driving sales.

After three years, your goals could shift toward sustainability and growth, like implementing a barrel-aging program or securing a spot in regional beer festivals. Milestones like these not only chart a path for growth but also help in measuring the health of your business.

Download your free brewery business plan template

If you’re ready to start your own brewery business, you can download our free brewery business plan template from our library of over 550 sample business plans. Get started today, and discover why businesses that plan grow 30% faster than those that don’t.

Brought to you by

Create a professional business plan

Using AI and step-by-step instructions

Create Your Plan

Secure funding

Validate ideas

Build a strategy

Content Author: Makenna Crocker

Makenna Crocker is the Marketing Specialist at Richardson Sports. Her work focuses on market and social trends, crafting gripping and authentic content, and enhancing marketing strategy to foster stronger B2B and B2C relationships. With a master’s degree in Advertising and Brand Responsibility from the University of Oregon, she specializes in generating a strong and responsible brand presence through content that positively influences and inspires others.