New website provides resources on how to start a brewery
Starting a brewery is not as simple as a home brewer increasing their output. It deals with the same hurdles and challenges of any startup business trying to get off the ground. That process can be overwhelming for hobbyist amateurs, and a new website is here to help.
Called StartABrewery.com, the free online resource was created by industry veterans Candace L. Moon and Laura Lodge, who have 35 years of combined experience. Moon is a San Diego-based attorney who specializes in the craft beer industry while Vail resident Lodge is the co-founder of the annual Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival that happens in Breckenridge.
The two met years ago during a Pink Boots Society meeting, an advocacy group for women in the brewing industry, and Lodge asked Moon about trademarking the Big Beers festival. The festival has always had an educational component, and Moon found herself frequently answering the same questions repeatedly for startups, so the idea of creating a tool naturally grew out of their professional and personal relationships.
The site became more tangible during the pandemic, when someone approached Moon wanting to sell the URL. She initially brushed it off but then thought about it more, and Lodge spearheaded the effort.
“Sharing our knowledge and insight about the brewing industry is something Candace and I have both been doing for some time now, and this is our way to formalize it, bring in other industry-savvy people and raise the bar for startups by providing necessary resources and guidance,” Lodge said.
The site is broken down into plan, act, open and grow — four divisions of time and phases that a brewery will focus on during its lifespan. Plan includes the preliminary measures to put the ideas in order while act involves more tangible measures like putting financial investments together. A brewery is then in the open phase until it’s ready to expand.
While most of the site is geared toward beginners, it has useful information for all business stages as the grow section covers a bottling or line, creating additional space for a beer garden or expanding to an entirely separate location. The site also covers topics like marketing, quality control and sales.
Information will generally be broad as laws and practices vary from state to state and country to country, but Lodge said the fundamental guidance provided remains the same. They’ll address common questions like having independent contractors versus employees, becoming a limited liability company versus a corporation or deciding whether to self-distribute.
“Distribution has changed so much in the last 10 years that it’s a completely different animal now,” Lodge said. “The basics still apply, but the strategy does not.”
All information on the site will be completely free thanks to advertising so that no membership or other payment is required.
“From Day 1, this needs to be free for the people who need it,” Moon said. “… We will benefit from having better, more educated clients.”
But what really sets the website apart is that Moon and Lodge aren’t the only experts sharing their intel. Contributors range from Jeff Mendel of Left Hand Brewing Co. to Carol Cochran of Horse & Dragon Brewing Co. and Todd Olander of Root Shoot Malting to Julia Herz, the former craft beer program director at the Brewers Association.
“It’s a little bit of a credibility statement that this is not just thrown together from anybody,” Lodge said. “We really did work hard to find people knowledgeable about their various areas of expertise to contribute.”
Though the site in still in its early launch stage, Moon and Lodge plan to possibly add a forum, webinars, podcasts and more. For Lodge, the saying “a rising tide floats all boats” is a key element to the website.
“I really think it’s a super awesome gesture on behalf of all the industry people who have offered their wisdom just to promote better breweries and better community engagement and better quality of beer all across the board,” Lodge said. “I think it’s a pretty awesome example of how community-driven the craft beer industry is.”
Jefferson Geiger is the arts and entertainment editor for the Summit Daily News and managing editor for Explore Summit. Have a question about beer? Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.