Brewery Planning: Important First Steps

September 12, 2011

As I relax on my couch getting ready for my first day of the new work schedule at the brewery, I have spent my time thinking about the kinds of planning I’ll need to do if I’m really serious about opening a brewery. The types of beer, brewery philosophy, brewpub or production brewery, name/logo/marketing, etc. Hell, even just deciding what city/region to do it in hasn’t been concrete in my mind yet.

Obviously the first important step is figuring out where to do it. Most of the ensuing decisions and variables stem from that decision. Despite my understanding that it’s best to leave New York state to start a business, I honestly don’t see myself leaving. Besides, the demand for craft beer in upstate New York is strong and growing, and it’s a market that still has serious potential. I think I’d actually lean most toward Rochester as I know the area, I know people in the industry in the area, the craft beer community is very thirsty and is a close-knit group that is very supportive, and I know someone there is serious about starting a brewery and wants someone else to do the brewing.

So that’s my current thought process. I loved Rochester’s craft beer scene while I was out there and think it will be ripe for expansion over the next several years. Between Rohrbach, Custom Brewcrafters, Three Heads Brewing, and the new ROC Brewing (that I don’t know much about at this point), they have a very close and mutually supportive craft brewing industry. I think the city could seriously support several more breweries.

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3 Responses to “Brewery Planning: Important First Steps”


  1. Rochester does have a blossoming craft scene. I’m partial to the Capital Region in NY, but I can see ROC working quite well. Keep me posted!

    • darknova306 Says:

      I know. I love me some Capital Region, too. There are some concerns I have, though. First, I feel it’s better to open in a place where I feel like I’m already fairly well integrated into the local craft beer market. In Rochester, I know a very large number of the craft beer enthusiasts, beer bar employees/owners, and a decent amount of the professional brewing industry folks. The second big concern is knowing someone in the region that is serious about partnering up and being more on the business end of things. Someone I know if Rochester is getting serious about pulling together research with me on the startup process, marketing, etc. And he wants to be on the ownership side with a full-time brewer handling production. That’s a perfect situation for me if it actually pans out. Obviously, nothing is concrete yet. As I start to look at business plan research and all the market data research, the Capital Region will stay in my mind and I’ll keep you in the loop.

      That said, shoot me any and all ideas, thoughts, etc, that you have about any of this.

  2. Seth WG Says:

    Coming from someone who may be moving out of the area (even though I’m trying desperately not to), upstate NY would be a decent place. Economically, it’s doing better (http://www.democratandchronicle.com/article/20110916/BUSINESS/109160319/Rochester-s-economy-national-leader?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Home|s) than other areas. We have a healthy beer scene that, politically, is trying to expand into something like a recognized wine region. Your malt dealer is relatively close by. Some of the vineyards are starting to grow varieties of hops that haven’t been seen in a while or ever (http://www.upstatechunk.com/beer/hops/nyhistory.htm).

    And the part about NY not being friendly for businesses – eh. I’m a small business owner (sole proprietorship – had to be to take advantage of tax breaks that were going the way of consulting offices I’ve worked for doing web/software development) so I’ve researched it a little. Running a business as well as what type of business is going to incur overhead costs no matter what. The reason why people crap on NY’s corporate reputation is: 1) more regulation to swim through than other states (licensing, tax collection certification, business license) which means somewhat higher overhead 2) taxation at many different levels – federal, state, county, and city sometimes 3) not a lot of business law on the books versus other states like Delaware and Nevada so if you ever find yourself in court, you may be at a slight disadvantage because no NY judge has run across a case like yours before. All that being said, you can still run a business and do it relatively cheaply if you know what you’re doing.

    NY has a reputation for having decent industrial development agencies which trade tax breaks/land deals for job creation. NY has relatively low cost of living compared to other states. Your utilities (water, electric, gas/propane) are average-priced and available regardless of where you are. So, in my humble slightly-informed opinion, the extra costs you deal with in government compliance (sorry, had to through the defense term in) are balanced by the cheaper availability of capital needs.

    Good lord, I’ve written a dissertation. I’m cracking open a beer now. Long story short – you go to where the demand is. You figure out how to deal with the expenses later. Hope your enjoying your time in Otsego-land. 🙂


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