Where to set up a microbrewery
The growth of craft beer drinking has meant plenty of opportunities for brewing – but once you have made it out of the kitchen, where should you set up your brewery operation?
Being able to create a great beer is, of course, what counts. The ability to turn a bag of grain into an appealing pint is an innate skill. But while it may be true that we need an aptitude and an abiding love of the craft of brewing, we also need somewhere to work.
You can go down the industrial unit route and set up in anything from a unit on an estate to an abandoned dairy (both of which can offer ideal conditions for brewing with a little preparation). You will need running water, electricity and drainage, open floors capable of carrying substantial loads, and with good roof height.
Cleanliness is essential. Washable walls and flooring will be non-negotiable, although you may be able to install polyurethane resin flooring to an existing floor.
A 2.5-barrel brewery, which can be considered around the smallest viable for a business, could be housed in as little as 250-500 square feet but, remember, you may need additional space for storage, especially if you are producing a cask conditioned ale. If you’re looking at a 15 barrel brewery, you would need 1400-1600 square feet.
Go where the customers are
If you have an outhouse or barn standing empty this may not be a problem but, in many cases, you will need to find other suitable premises.
But many small brewers are seeing the benefits of setting up a brewery that is close to drinkers themselves.
Setting up in the back of a pub is an obvious choice. This was, of course, how pubs worked back in the day, with the ale in the back while the host was out front dispensing it to his customers.
We have moved on - but with many closed pubs now for sale, it can be very tempting to look at acquiring a suitable pub and installing your kit.
But there is no need to confine yourself to a pub. Many other premises are finding new uses as microbreweries that welcome in drinker.
- In Cambridge, plans to convert a car repair shop into a brewery and bar are set to be approved
- In a large Hertfordshire town, a bank is getting a makeover, and will deal in draught pints brewed on the premises instead of overdrafts - a trend that is being repeated throughout the country
- A former carpenter’s workshop is being converted in Edinburgh - joining a garage which has been producing beer for several years.
What will it all cost?
It can be simple enough to set up a microbrewery producing small batches for as little as £5,000, using secondhand equipment - mash tank, lauter tun and fermentation tank, plus some pumps and heaters and bottling gear.
The costs will rise as the size of vessels and consequent production volumes grow. A £10,000 installation might easily produce around 400 litres of beer on each production run.
A 12-barrel brewery, producing 2,000 litres or more, could cost £50,000 to £80,000. The good news is that funding solutions exist for this type of investment, when you are ready to make the leap into real volume production, and include both Secured Loans and Asset Finance solutions.
As for premises, costs will vary according to your location. A Short-term Loan might be useful if you are considering taking on a leased property but a Commercial Mortgage might be more suitable for the long term, allowing you to build up a valuable asset for the future of your business by buying the premises that you work from.
The help you need for your microbrewery business
At Rangewell, we can help you find the finance required for all types of business costs, whether you are still in the kitchen - or ready to grow your production and move into your premises - however creative your choice may be.
Whatever the size of your brewery - and however exciting your plans - at Rangewell, we can provide the scale of funding you need. Simply call us to find out more.