Running a microbrewery, also referred to as a craft brewery, is an expensive and labor-intensive endeavor. In order to be successful, your microbrewery needs to sell beer, and this can only happen if your beer tastes good and stands out from the pack. A combination of the right ingredients, such as hops, yeast and barley, along with highly specialized brewing equipment, helps create the perfect brew.
However, that is just the start. There are things you need to do in order to take your microbrewery to the next level. Otherwise, your beer sales will remain flat, pun intended. This Balboa Capital blog articles features tips on how to grow your microbrewery.
Define your microbrewery’s mission.
Founders of microbreweries share a common passion: the enjoyment of making quality beer. This is probably the cornerstone of most brewery mission statements. A well-thought-out mission statement conveys the purpose of your microbrewery, explains why it exists, and helps differentiate it from the competition. If you have a mission statement that might sound too vague, or that does not convey what your microbrewery is all about, consider revising it.
If you are in the startup phase of your craft brewery operation, now is the time to put pen to paper. When writing your mission statement, keep it simple and to-the-point. The majority of mission statements fall between one and three sentences and do not exceed 80 words.
Update your beer-making equipment.
Having top-quality beer-making equipment allows for more productivity, less downtime, and greater consistency from batch to batch. It can also help you meet your production goals and add new beers to your product line. If your microbrewery has outdated equipment or machinery that periodically malfunctions, it is time to invest in something new.
Brew kettles, fermenters, heat exchangers, sanitation equipment and water treatment systems, among others, have high price points. You can preserve your capital and keep your credit line open by financing brewery equipment.
Expand into new markets.
Expanding into new markets is a great way to grow your microbrewery, but it is not easy. There are more than 4,700 microbreweries in the United States. In addition to being highly competitive, the beer market is influenced by longstanding drink preferences. IPAs are very popular in the Pacific Northwest, lagers are the overwhelming choice in the Midwest and South, and light beers and pale ale are favorites in the Southwestern states.
So, research the markets you are interested in entering. This is a great way to see what types of beer sells well, and to find out if any beer-drinking trends are emerging.
Participate in local events.
Getting involved with community events such as food festivals, beer festivals, and summer fairs is a great way to increase your brand awareness, introduce your beers to a new audience, and let people see the faces behind your brand. To find out which events are scheduled in your area, contact your local Chamber of Commerce or check online. Participating in local events requires a team effort by you and your employees, and it is a good idea to plan well in advance.
Try to reserve your space early, and choose a spot that will have lots of foot traffic. Then, invest in a booth and signage for your event. Having a booth will make you appear more professional. Lastly, do not just serve beer and mingle with people during the event. Hand out business cards, beer information sheets or other marketing materials, and consider holding a raffle with prizes.
Become familiar with laws.
The alcoholic beverage industry in the United States is highly regulated and extremely complex. The laws and tax rates relating to beer sales and distribution may vary depending on the state. In addition, a number of counties within states have their own laws that you need to follow.
Therefore, make sure that you fully understand the laws relating to wholesaling, distribution, and retail sales before you expand into a new market. You can get all of the legal information advice you need from a business attorney. Lawyers are not always cheap, but they can help prevent legal problems down the road.
Large beer brands that dominate the marketing landscape, and supermarket shelves, are experiencing greater competition from microbreweries like yours. A research report from a leading retail business firm showed that sales of leading domestic beer brands have dropped for ten consecutive years. More consumers are switching to craft beers. Microbrewery retail sales will surpass $30 billion this year.