With more than 9,000 in operation, there are more breweries in the United States now than ever before, according to the Brewers Association. Craft breweries and microbreweries are becoming more popular than ever.
If you want to get in on the action, you’re probably wondering how to run a brewery or microbrewery. There’s a lot more to running a microbrewery than writing a brewery business plan, perfecting your craft beers, and hiring staff. While we’ll leave the brewing-related advice to the beer experts, we’re here to share strategies that will help you generate more revenue.
Here’s how to run a brewery or microbrewery in 12 tips:
- Run brewery tours
- Let guests book a table
- Host happy hour
- Offer VIP experiences
- Personalize recommendations
- Stay top of mind
- Have a craft beer-of-the-month club
- Rent out your space
- Drive sales from anywhere in the brewery
- Offer delivery and takeout
- Host events
- Promote other properties in your portfolio
1. Run Brewery Tours
Include tours as part of your brewery’s business plan. Tours give guests a behind-the-scenes look at how their favorite beers are made and elevate your microbrewery from just a place to get drinks to an attraction. They’ll also give your business an additional revenue stream.
Secure revenue in advance by selling tickets for tours. Make them even more appealing to customers by including a flight or several pours with each tour.
2. Let Guests Book a Table
Reservations aren’t just for restaurants. Reservations help your taproom prepare for service and know who’s coming. With bookings, you can staff accordingly, make sure you have enough inventory and get to know guests via their profiles in your customer relationship management (CRM) software.
Reservations also make your brewery more appealing to guests, because they can plan their time more easily when they know they’re guaranteed to get a table.
3. Host happy hour
Running a happy hour promotion is a great way to draw crowds during less-busy times. Review reports from your point-of-sale (POS) system to see when your brewery generates the fewest sales and offer discounted drinks and bites during those times.
4. Offer VIP Experiences
Let guests upgrade their reservations with premium experiences. For example, you could let them book the best table in the house, pre-purchase brewery merchandise or book a meet and greet with the brewers. Build add-ons into the reservation booking process for an easy way to upsell and generate incremental revenue.
5. Personalize Recommendations
Use a CRM to keep track of guests’ preferences, visit history and more. A CRM like SevenRooms can create guest profiles with order history and special dates, and automatically apply tags to them, like “big tipper.” Servers can then access this data during service and use it to personalize recommendations and make anniversaries and birthdays special without being asked.
When you know what your guests like, you can upsell more effectively. For example, if a guest has an “IPA lover” tag in their profile, a server can proactively point out your brewery’s best IPAs. This VIP treatment delights guests and keeps them coming back for more.
6. Stay Top of Mind
Keep your brewery top of mind by consistently marketing to your guests. Send out an email newsletter, share updates on social media, advertise and more.
Marketing automation software, like SevenRooms, can make email marketing easy by taking it off your plate. It can send personalized emails to guests, according to their interests. The more data you collect about your customers, the more effective your automated marketing efforts will be.
For example, if you’re unveiling a new sour craft beer, you can set up an email marketing campaign to let guests who have ordered or purchased sour beer in the past know about it.
7. Have a Craft Beer-of-the-Month Club
Establish a subscription-based beer-of-the-month club at your craft brewery to generate recurring revenue. Offer various tiers of membership so you have the opportunity to increase sales. Incentivize membership by hosting members-only events, sending members exclusive merch or offering discounts on kegs and brewery visits.
8. Rent Out Your Space
If your brewery is large enough, consider turning it into an events venue. Breweries are becoming increasingly popular backdrops for weddings, corporate events, family reunions and more. Expand your brewery’s business plan and take advantage of your space by letting customers buy it out for special occasions.
9. Drive Sales From Anywhere in the Brewery
Why limit beer sales to your taproom? With mobile order and pay technology, you can turn every corner of your brewery and grounds into a bar. Use QR codes to let guests order and pay from their phones, and receive drinks whether they’re in your taproom, on the brewery floor or anywhere else on-premises.
10. Offer Delivery and Takeout
If your brewery serves food, why not introduce takeout and delivery? Demand for delivery has increased because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Offering food to-go lets your business serve more people without increasing dine-in capacity.
Make takeout and delivery convenient by adding online ordering to your restaurant’s website. While you may want to start out by working with third-party delivery partners, direct delivery will help you create a stronger relationship with customers and avoid steep commission fees.
If you also want to serve alcohol to-go, check local liquor laws to see what you can and can’t do.
11. Host Events
Beyond renting out your space for events, host your own to generate buzz and boost revenue. Trivia and open mic nights are popular options for breweries. You could also attract customers with live music, and even partner with distilleries and wineries for liquor and wine pop-ups.
Pre-sell tickets to these events to secure revenue. If you’d rather make these events free, consider implementing table spending minimums to maximize sales. When you integrate your POS with SevenRooms, you can track table spend in real time to enforce these spend minimums.
12. Promote Other Properties in Your Portfolio
If you have multiple breweries or restaurants, cross-promote them on your reservations page. If the microbrewery is booked solid when someone tries to make a reservation, keep it in the family and refer them to sister properties instead of having them go to a competing business.
With SevenRooms, you can easily promote sister businesses on your reservations page.
Wrapping Up: How to Run a Brewery
The U.S. beer market is worth a whopping $100.2 billion, according to data from the Brewers Association. It isn’t just the giant, corporate breweries that are cashing in. Microbreweries and craft breweries make up 27% of demand. If you want a slice of this lucrative market, now is the time to learn how to run a brewery or microbrewery and turn your dreams into a reality.
Expand your brewery’s business plan by adding revenue-generating opportunities, like tours, VIP experiences, events and craft beer clubs to your offerings. SevenRooms can help you get to know your customers better, automate your marketing efforts, sell tickets and more. Request a demo today.
FAQs About How to Run a Brewery
1. How Profitable Is Brewing Beer?
The gross profit margin on breweries ranges between 74% and 92%.
2. What Is the Startup Cost for a Brewery?
On average, the cost to start a brewery is in the range of $500,000 to $1.5 million. This includes things like renting space, buying brewing equipment and kegs, and staffing.
3. Why do microbreweries fail?
Microbreweries can fail for a number of reasons. The most common reason is insufficient funding to cover the many costs like rental expenses, equipment costs, inventory costs, and permits. A second reason for failure is increasing competition. With the growth of microbreweries, there is more business to compete against.