Do You Want to Make Your Hoppy Hobby Your New Job?

by Lindsey Pashow & Jesse Strzok
Are you ready to turn your brewing passion into a business? With New York’s different alcohol licenses, it is more affordable than ever to get started.

Farm breweries are quickly gaining in popularity in New York

Farm breweries are quickly gaining in popularity in New York

The farm brewing law, passed in 2012, has hard rules for production, serving, selling, and sampling of product. Some of those rules include: production of up to 75,000 barrels of New York State labeled beer and/or cider annually; beer sold by the glass, at up to five branch locations; and selling of other New York State label beer, cider, wine, and spirits.
These different laws are to designed to increase demand for the inputs of production coming from New York. The farm brewery law currently requires 20% hops and 20% other ingredients must be grown in New York State until the end of 2018. The requirements change in 2019, with an increase to at least 60% hops and 60% other ingredients grown in New York State through to the end of 2023. Starting in 2024, 90% hops and 90% all other ingredients must be grown in New York State. It’s important to note that in meeting these criteria, water is not classified as a locally-sourced ingredient.
Starting a new business can be daunting. Key things to consider before pursuing a brewery venture include: a strong business plan, an easily accessible location for the public, funding and capital access including grants and loans, and a quality product.
It is also important to understand that both brewing in your basement and brewing in large batches to the public requires strict quality control. However, there are some major differences. For example, it may hurt a little to dump a 5-gallon batch of home brew when something goes awry, but it’s a whole different story if you have to scrap 100 gallons–the economic loss can be crippling.
As with any start-up, it’s important to be realistic. Afterall, only 50% of businesses survive the first five years. The craft beverage industry is growing daily and is becoming more and more competitive. Finding the right niche for your farm brewery will be vital.
Some resources to help you consider getting into farm brewing include:
NYS Wine, Beer, Spirits & Cider – One Stop Shop:
New York State Brewery Supply Chain Analysis:
Wholesale Application Instructions:
Wholesale Application:
Wholesale Fee Chart:
Alcohol Label Information NYS:
U.S. Department of the Treasury – Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau:
Remember, you will need to contact New York State Agriculture and Markets (1-800-554-4501) for when the time comes to arrange an inspection of your brewery.

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Claire Cekander

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