Microbreweries are pouring into the Cape Fear region.
North Carolina’s central location on the east coast –along with its manufacturing and artisan culture – are key ingredients of the state’s burgeoning craft beer industry.
Looking to open a brewery? Three expert panelists offered tips to potential start-ups at “The Business of Beer,” a talk hosted by UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Panelists caution that 95% of all start-up brewers are undercapitalized. Beyond money, a brewer must understand industry regulations and distribution laws. And it’s important to secure intellectual property rights early on to avoid the risk of having to re-brand the product later and lose name recognition.
In addition, having a tap room capitalizes on the "honeymoon" period of local interest, and it will bring in revenue that helps new breweries stay afloat during their first year.
Dino Radosta, owner of an award-winning microbrewery, advises not to underestimate how much beer you’ll need to make. And plan ahead for expansion – don't limit yourself to a blocked-in space. Radosta says:
"One of the things I would say to you, for those of you that are thinking about a brewery: The first thing to recognize is that it is fun, and it is sexy, but it is a business. Make no mistake about it. If you think that you’re a home-brewer and all your friends told you that you make some really good beer, and this just looks like a kickass job, and it’s going to be fun. Yeah, none of that’s right. It’s a business, and it’s getting harder. It’s getting tougher."
But despite the hardships of starting a craft brewery, the experts agree it’s a rewarding, camaraderie-based business that's less competitive than other industries.