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For a nanobrewery (1 to 3 BBL system), what are the economics of selling beer retail vs. wholesale?

I have heard that selling beer wholesale at the nano-level is not profitable given small batch sizes and the man hours required. Is that true?


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3 answers

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Bob Gillis from Caribbean Brewing Company

In my experience anything less than 7 bbl systems should be reserved for a retail outlet. You will be working for free if you try to sell bottles for 70-90 cents each at wholesale, a $5.00 pull on the tap is a much better return in a 3 bbl brew pub. Kegs are great but they too cost money, when that $100 keg goes missing the $25 deposit does not  make up for it and you can't afford to lease kegs for a nano. The most you could fill is 6 kegs anyway and kegs are discounted even more than bottles.

Oct 4, 2013

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John Watt from Stout Tanks and Kettles

Most of our customers that purchase 1 to 3 bbl systems for commercial use are selling by the pint in a tap room.  

We do have some 1 to 3 bbl customers that are distributing, but they do not plan to make money at this scale.  In general, they are starting with an investment they can afford and are proving themselves at a small scale and plan to jump up to a larger system.  (One example is a 1 bbl distributing brewery that is having success and jumping all the way up to 20 bbl).

Nov 20, 2013

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Dan Ukolowicz from Simple Roots Brewing

We have a small 3BBL brewhouse in Burlington, VT and are profitable (46% after cost) for two reasons. 90% of our sales are through 22oz. bottles; due to zoning we cannot have a tasting room. We use kegs to restaurants/bars strictly for advertisement purposes. Also no overhead - we converted our garage to a brewery (TTB variance and city Home Occupation zoning approval) thus we pay no real rent. We work pretty hard, have kept our day jobs and are looking to upgrade but that's our story. 

Aug 19, 2015

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