087-6181690  info@blackdonkeybeer.com

How To Start a Microbrewery in 10 Easy Steps

When all’s said and done, there will be a heck of a lot more than 10 steps to getting this brewery up and running, but here is our process so far, the first 10 steps.
  1. Come up with a plan, most likely hatched one night while drinking quality craft beers from around the world, with probably a few too many double IPAs or big Belgians in the mix
  2. Elaborate on the plan, write it down and say, “I’m actually going to do this, I’m going to start my own microbrewery”.
  3. Refine the plan when you realise how much the original plan will cost.
  4. Start second guessing yourself, and refine the plan again
  5. Shrug shoulders in exasperation, realising this is a lot more work than you thought it would be and give up plan.
  6. Steel yourself, and resolve to put your plan into action, you’re unemployed after all, what else you got?
  7. Refine plan again, put your head down and forge ahead. Do neurotic amounts of research and homework on funding options, licensing, rules and regulations, competition, current market conditions, market forecasts, branding, product development. Realise that the healthiest manufacturing sector is probably for red tape as there seems to be an endless supply of it, and demand for it. Consider going into the red tape business.
  8. Talk to an accountant, or rather listen while an accountant talks, and realise that this is going to cost all your life savings, and possibly the savings of some others too.
  9. More second-guessing. Look for a job and realise that you’re now unemployable, because you spent the last four months writing a business plan and talking about the great brewery you’re going to start.
  10. What else have you been saving for? Acknowledge the risk, locate a premises, negotiate a lease and get to work.

Welcome to the first ever blog post from Black Donkey Brewing Ltd, an “in development” micro brewery, located in Ballinlough in County Roscommon, in the rural west of Ireland.

We are currently right at step 10, negotiating a lease for a premises which we can call home.

Considering the number of vacant “industrial” premises  in this part of the country, we thought that this would be the fastest part of the whole set up process, but it has taken us months just to get this far. We have learned a lot in the process though and have met some great allies in the local planning, revenue and environment departments. Our premises search initially focused on industrial units in the town of Castlerea. As we soon learned though, an “industrial” unit is not necessarily an “industrial” unit, according to the planning rules. We had options on several “industrial” units, all of which turned out to have the wrong type of planning permission, and all of which would have required the cost, both money and time of a “change of use” planning permission process if we wanted to occupy them. In addition, all the “in town” units were located in an area which required the payment of a development contribution fee by any commercial occupants, in addition to the annual commercial rates. The cost of setting up the business in town soon became prohibitive. Unfortunately our donkey stubbornness prevented us from realising this earlier, and several months were lost. Eventually, not willing to let rules and zoning stand in the way of progress we headed out into the countryside to the town of Ballinlough. We are now in the process of hammering out the fine points of a lease for a 6,000 square foot unit. It still needs a change of use from the planning board, but it checks all the other boxes, good water, three phase electricity, easy access, plenty of room for expansion, low rent and no development fees. The irony of the whole process is that this premises is the first place we looked at and said “wow, that would make a hell of a brewery”. At the time though we thought we couldn’t afford it, we’d be better off in town, it was too big (it still is, but we’ve negotiated a great rent and no matter how much we grow, we won’t have to move for years), we didn’t want to pay for planning permission etc.

Hind sight is always 20/20, and if we knew then what we know now, we might already be brewing but……………

We lost some time, we tested our resolve and we learned some invaluable lessons. We are now much better positioned to move forward and make Black Donkey Brewing Ltd a reality, and a success.

Thanks for reading, we look forward to keeping you informed.