Friday, November 9, 2012

How to Start a Brewery in Nebraska

We are going to give this a shot.  We were contacted by this individual to see if we would do a guest spot.  We do this every now and then, but it is generally event related and not so much marketing related.  So you tell us, if the information is good and you get something from it is it OK if it has some marketing involved in it? I think this is some good basic info on some steps that you need to know if you want to start a brewery and I thank Danielle for contacting us and providing it to us and you.  We appreciate the feedback so let us know what you think.

How to start a craft brewery in Nebraska…legally
When it comes to starting a business, you need to fully understand the legal implications of what you’re getting into. The story is no different when it comes to setting up a brewery. So, first things first.
If you’ve looked into starting a brewery in your area, you probably know that the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission regulates the state’s breweries. However, did you also know that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)  regulates breweries at the federal level? Your first order of business when establishing a brewery in Nebraska should be getting in touch with both of these government agencies. By verifying the exact requirements you’ll have to fulfill beforehand, you’ll have a realistic understanding of what it will take to set up a brewery, both legally and financially. The following is a breakdown of some of the most important steps involved with establishing a brewery.

TTB Permit
If you plan to brew beer for purposes other than personal or family use, you’re going to need to apply for a brewer’s notice with the TTB. Give yourself plenty of time to legally register your brewery because you definitely don’t want to be in a rush. You cannot begin brewing beer until the TTB approves your request, which could take up to 95 days to complete. Fortunately, however, there’s no application fee required at the federal level.

State Licensing
To license your brewery with the state, consult the liquor license application checklist put together by the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission. Depending on the type of business you plan to run, you’ll likely need one of two liquor license types.
  • craft brewery (brew pub): license type L
  • brewpub/catering: license type LK
Brewery owners should note that Nebraska brewpub licenses expire annually on April 30. To avoid paying penalty fees or having your license revoked, be sure to renew your license every year before it expires.

Surety Bond Insurance
As a part of the brewery licensing process, applicants must file two different types of surety bonds: one with the state and one with the TTB. The financial guarantees provided by these bonds ensure that brewery owners will pay all taxes appropriately. The exact amount of bonding coverage required will be determined based on anticipated sales. The TTB requires enough surety bond protection to cover authorized activities conducted on brewery premises with a minimum $1,000 bond amount. Nebraska requires brewery owners to file a minimum $1,000 alcohol tax bond (form 115). Most alcohol tax surety bonds for amounts less than $10,000 can be issued for just $100. However, if a brewery owner needs a larger surety bond, the bond premium will increase accordingly, and a credit check might be required.

When going through the process of licensing and registering your brewery, you’ll probably have some questions along the way. So, you’ll want to draft a team of legal and financial professionals who can offer you quality objective advice whenever you need help. At the bare minimum you’ll want to establish a relationship with 1) an accountant and 2) a lawyer. Of course doing things on your own would be cheaper, but it also takes much more time and effort on your part. Furthermore, the opportunity for making a mistake is pretty significant. The last thing you need when starting your own brewery is to face legal action because you made a misinformed decision.

Other Considerations
After you’ve taken care of the technical legal implications related to starting a brewery, you still have plenty of other areas to look into, such as
  • hiring quality employees
  • funding your brewery’s operating costs for five years
  • developing effective advertising strategies
  • attracting and retaining clients
This guide is just a start to how you’ll prepare to establish a brewery in Nebraska. No matter what stage you’re at in the process, you must do your research to ensure you fully understand what you’re getting into.
I wish you the best of luck!

Danielle Rodabaugh is the director of educational outreach at, a surety provider that offers free surety bond quotes nationwide. Danielle frequently works with brewery owners to help them get the bond insurance they need to open for business. And, of course, Danielle thoroughly enjoys a nicely brewed beer. You can keep up with Danielle on Google+.


Tom said...

I love it. In fact I'd love to see this become a series. Do you think you can find a lawyer and an accountant that would shed light on some of their experience in the process? It would also be cool to get a status update on where in the process several of the future NE breweries are and some of the issues they have overcome. Then the last installment could be a success story of a brewer that made it through the hoops and is now open.

Nate B. said...

I agree and I think that would be great stuff. If we can get some help on that I think it can get done. So readers if you know of someone that could write a post similar to this one about the other steps needed that would be awesome.