The process of how to get a brewery license is one of the most important steps in how to open up a brewery. Yes, you’ll need to get your brewery cleaning supplies, hire brewery staff, and learn about the overall cost to open a brewery. You have to learn how a brewery works, all about beer expiration, and you’ll even need some knowledge about how to work at a brewery.
Beyond all those steps, learning how to get a brewery license sets you up for success from the start. You need it before you can begin other concrete plans. Your brewery business plan will need a section about your brewery licensing. It’s even difficult to get set up with brewery management software unless you have your licensing squared away.
This BinWise blog post walks you through the process of how to get a brewery license. That’s a different process depending on your location but have no fear. We took a deep dive into the brewery licensing process across the United States, so you can find your state and get started.
How to Get a Brewery License
Learning how to get a brewery license is vital for everyone who wants to open a brewery business. That said, it’s not always a straightforward process. BinWise isn’t a legal agency, and we don’t offer legal advice. We urge you to do your own research when you’re opening a brewery because rules and regulations do change.
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or TTB, is a good place to turn toward for research and rules. How to get a brewery license is similar to getting a liquor license, so that information is helpful as well. Overall, it’s best to do thorough research before you make a plan beyond your licensing.
Brewery Licensing State by State
Brewery licensing state by state in the U.S. has many similarities and a few key differences. We’ll walk you through the information you’ll find in an initial search of each state. Once you’re ready to open your brewery, be sure to square your licensing away with official sources. Ideally you should work with a lawyer who can help you check every licensing box.
In Alabama, you initially need a liquor license. You specifically need to register with the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, or ABC board, in the county where you’re opening a brewery.
In Alaska, you often need a liquor license and a specific winery/brewery license on top of the regular license. Alaska has some intense liquor and alcoholic beverage laws, so there are more steps you need to take.
Arizona has a few ways you can open a brewery or a brewery type of business. A liquor license is a good place to start. There are also microbrewery applications if you’re opening a business of a specific size.
For the most part in Arkansas, you only need a liquor license to start with for a brewery business. The tricky parts of the process come into play with certain counties; Arkansas has certain dry counties.
In California, you’ll typically need a beer manufacturer license, a small beer manufacturer license, or a general brewpub license. Which one you’ll need depends on the size of your brewery business.
For Colorado, you’ll need a brewer’s notice through the TTB, and a manufacturer’s license with the state of Colorado. If you’re going to have a tasting room you’ll also need a Colorado Wholesale license and a Colorado Liquor Sales Room permit.
In Connecticut, you need to start with a liquor license. Specific licenses and permits beyond that basic license will depend on your location, but the liquor license is the most important.
In Delaware, to start off you need a liquor license. It’s an intensive liquor license in Delaware, it covers many specific instances. You should also look into Responsible Server Training approved by the state of Delaware if you’re serving tastings and food.
In Florida, for a brewery, you need a Cereal Malt Beverage (CMB) or CMBP license. You may also need a specific license for a taproom or brewpub. That's if you’re looking to sell beer directly to the public through your brewery.
In Georgia, there’s a specific state of Georgia Brewery License. To get that license, you need a Malt Beverage Bond Performance and Tax Liability Bond. You also need an Alcohol and Tobacco personnel statement, a Citizenship Affidavit, annual registration for your business, and a local license. A few other items may come up depending on your business type.
In Hawaii, you need to start with a liquor license. Different counties and islands have their own specific rules. From a liquor license to a direct wine shipper permit, there’s a lot to look into for your specific location.
For Idaho, an alcoholic beverage license is the place to start. You’ll need to complete a background check, a financial check, and fingerprinting to get set up with the application. From there, there are different levels of licensing depending on your business type.
In Illinois, there are brewer’s licenses and liquor licenses. Typically you need some level of both for an Illinois brewery.
For Indiana, an alcoholic beverage permit is the main requirement. You’ll need to contact an alcoholic beverage permit processor through the Indiana state government, which will help you check all your boxes.
In Iowa, you need a liquor license to start with. From there, you’ll need specific licenses and permits depending on the size of your business, your employees, and what you’re planning to sell on-site.
In Kansas, the brewery license rules are based on the size and type of brewery business you’re opening. In many cases you’ll need a standard Kansas liquor license. You may also need a specific microbrewery license.
For Kentucky, there are a few different options. There is the standard liquor license. There is also, however, a temporary Kentucky liquor license. That’s a unique option. You could also get an alcoholic beverage license to cover some general needs.
In Louisiana, you’ll need a liquor license and, depending on your location, a more specific alcoholic beverage permit. Louisiana has different laws than many other states, so it’s a unique case depending on where in Louisiana you are.
For opening a brewery in Maine, you’ll need a brewer’s notice, an Occupancy license for your location, and a sales and use tax certification. You’ll also need a specific brewery license depending on the size and structure of your brewery.
For Maryland, you’ll need a liquor license to start. You’ll then need to dive into which type of brewery license in Maryland is right for you. There are standard options, micro-brewery options, and manufacturing and wholesale licenses.
In Massachusetts, you’ll need something called an alcohol beverages farmer brewery license. This is unique to Massachusetts. There is also an option for an alcoholic beverages pub brewery license.
For Michigan, there are a range of brewery-specific licenses and permits. You’ll likely need either a brewer or micro brewer license, or a manufacturing license and permit. In some cases you’ll need both.
In Minnesota, you’ll need a few licenses that come up for most states. You’ll be required to have a brewer’s notice, a liquor license, and a wholesaler manufacturing license.
For Mississippi, you’ll need a beer permit and a liquor license. These two permits and licenses cover a lot of requirements in Mississippi.
In Missouri, a microbrewery license is often required. You’ll also want to look into an alcoholic beverage retail license that is specific to your drinks. A liquor license will also be important.
In Montana, one thing you’ll need to look into is a domestic brewery license. A liquor license and general business licensing will also be required.
In Nebraska, you’ll need a liquor license, and potentially a craft brewery license. There are different levels of licenses depending on your business type.
For Nevada, you’ll need a mix of licenses. A liquor license is the place to start. From there, a brewery license is the next step.
In New Hampshire, there are a number of licenses to look into beyond a standard liquor license. A beer specialty, beverage manufacturer, brew pub, carrier, or nano brewery may be the right choice for you.
In New Jersey, on top of a liquor license, you’ll need a few other permits and licenses. A craft brewery license may be the right choice for you. A manufacturer license is also an option.
For New Mexico, firstly you need a standard liquor license. Beyond that, you’ll need something specific. A small brewer liquor license is a common option.
In New York, you’ll need to start with a liquor license. Beyond that, there are different levels of beer permits depending on the size and structure of your business.
For North Carolina, a brewery permit is required. A liquor license is also important. On top of that, you’ll need some level of a manufacturing license.
In North Dakota, a liquor license is the place to start. From there, you’ll also want to look into a retail alcoholic beverage license.
For Ohio, there are a variety of permits and licenses you’ll need. For one, you’ll need a liquor license. On top of that, you’ll likely need a permit to serve alcoholic beverages, and a manufacturer’s license.
In Oklahoma, you need either a liquor license or an alcoholic beverages license, depending on the exact type of brewery you’re opening. Oklahoma has somewhat straightforward requirements and processes in place for opening a brewery.
In Oregon, you typically need a liquor license, as well as a brewery public house or winery permit. If you’re serving food you’ll also need to look into food handler’s certifications.
In Pennsylvania, you’ll need a federal brewing permit from the TTB. A liquor license will also come up along the way. Pennsylvania is fairly straightforward in what you’ll need for a brewery.
For Rhode Island, you’ll need a basic brewery permit with the TTB in addition to a liquor license. You’ll need a different type of brewery permit depending on the size of your brewery.
For South Carolina, you will need to start with an Alcohol Beverage license. You’ll also need a state sales tax permit no matter what type of brewery you open. The rest is dependent on what type of brewery you choose to run.
In South Dakota, you’ll need a manufacturing license and a retail on-sale liquor license. South Dakota has more regional requirements for licensing, so it’ll heavily depend on where in South Dakota you’re opening a brewery.
In Tennessee, in many places you’ll need to start with a beer permit. A liquor license will also likely come up depending on your location. Nashville has its own very specific license rules.
In Texas, you need a brewer’s license, a distributor’s license, and a branch distribution license. You’ll also need to look into the rules around liquor licensing in Texas across the state.
For Utah, you need a commercial business license. You’ll also need licenses from both the city and the state of Utah, through the Division of Alcohol Beverage Control (DABC).
In Vermont, you start with the Department of Liquor and Lottery, Division of Liquor Control’s Online Portal. This is where you sign up for a manufacturer’s license. You’ll also need a wholesale dealer’s license.
In Virginia, for a brewery business you need to start with a liquor license. There are also specific brewery licenses and industry licenses. The Virginia ABC Board has the run-down on all the specifics based on your business type.
In Washington, you need to complete a Business License Application and Non-Retail Liquor and Cannabis Board Addendum through the Department of Revenue’s Business Licensing Service. Your application will go through the WSLCB to get you licensed.
In West Virginia, the main thing you need is a liquor license or beer license. Within those needs, however, are state licenses and the permits that come with serving food and drinks.
For Wisconsin, you’ll need to have a business license, a brewer’s notice with the TTB, and a brewery or brewpub permit with the DOR. These steps must be followed in order to cover everything you need.
In Wyoming, you often only need a liquor license, as the Wyoming liquor license covers a lot of ground. You’ll need to file for a new liquor license, and each year you’ll need to file to renew with the Liquor License Renewal Application.
"Key Takeaway: Learning how to get a brewery license is vital for everyone who wants to open a brewery business."
Frequently Asked Questions About Brewery Licensing
Our answers to these frequently asked questions will give you further information about owning and operating a brewery, from licensing to profitability. It all comes together to help you prepare for opening the doors of your brewery.
How Profitable Is Owning a Brewery?
Owning a brewery can be exceptionally profitable. The gross profit margin on most brews is between 74% and 92%, and that’s on top of sales from your taproom. If you upsell beer food pairing options, like a beer and chocolate pairing, or a craft beer and food pairing, you’ll have higher profits.
How Much Investment Is Needed to Open a Brewery?
On average, a brewery requires an initial investment of $250,000 into the millions of dollars. It all depends on the size of your brewery and how much you want to put into it. A good investment amount rests around $500,000.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Liquor License?
How long it takes to get a liquor license depends entirely on the state and the agency you’re working with. It can take as little as two weeks or two months. It can also take up to a year depending on the availability of licenses.
Is It Hard to Get a Liquor License?
The process to get a liquor license can be expensive and time consuming, but overall it isn’t hard. It’s something to start right away when you start to conceptualize your brewery, because it can certainly take some time.
Getting a Brewery License: Licensed to Brew
The process of how to get a brewery license is one of the most important parts of starting a brewery business. Yes, we say that about a lot of the steps involved, but this one is truly a make-or-break factor in the process.
When you’re settled with your licensing and permitting and you’re ready to start your business, reach out to BinWise and BlueCart. The BinWise Pro platform, paired with the BinScan mobile app, will ease the inventory program while you take inventory without worrying about it. BlueCart’s order management system gives you peace of mind when it comes to your reorder point.
Check out Revolution Ordering if you’re looking to expand your brewery to multiple locations. Revolution is built for enterprise businesses, to manage all your locations with ease.