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What are the steps needed to legally sell homebrew?

I have an LLC and know how to setup the business/tax/etc on that side of things. I could do it under this or form a new one.

I am just not certain of the liquor related laws/regulations. I want to be 100% legit and able to legally sell to the public.

I live in the USA.

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This would vary GREATLY from state to state. In general, I'd predict that its hard as hell to get licensed, but I live in Florida, which sucks for this sort of thing. Good luck!!! –  Graham Jul 29 '11 at 20:01
    
Not quite the same, but if you only plan on doing it on a small scale you could consider a tip jar: homebrew.stackexchange.com/questions/4282/… –  Mark McDonald Aug 2 '11 at 14:11
    
Hope you don't live in MA, or KS... Wikipedia: List of Alcohol laws by state...PLEASE note, that this list is only a good starting point, it is not good legal advice. I could theoretically modify it to say that sacrificing a chicken is a legal pre-req. for selling beer in Hawaii and you could be unfortunate enough to see it before someone edited it away. –  Cpfohl Aug 3 '11 at 20:22

2 Answers 2

Beer sales are regulated by state thanks to the three tier system currently in place. Find the website for the liquor division of your state's department of commerce. Every state is different. You need a business license and a liquor/beer license that fits your operation. I live in Ohio, and in order to sell my beer I need a beer manufacturing license as well as a license to sell it on site. If I want to pour tastings, that's another license. On top of all that, it cannot be sold out of my home as the location must be zoned industrial. If I were to sell out of a store, I must go through a state licensed distributor that will likely refuse if I am not already an established business. If I run a brewpub that also sells bottled beer in a store, I'll definitely need a lawyer! Here is the list of licenses in Ohio. As you can see, wineries have it easy here.

Join the Brewers Association to access their much coveted Brewers Resource Directory. If you need legal advice beyond what you can find through the BA, get in touch with one of the many local entrepreneurial resources. Columbus is blessed with The Metropreneur.

It is also important to know that selling beer is not cost effective on small systems. Just ask the guys that resell all of that 3-5bbl equipment. Think big and good luck!

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WA state also has a three tier system and it is almost impossible to brew, distribute, and sell without a major (several thousand dollar) investment in fees each year. The key here is that you can brew and sell, but only on the location of the brewing and it has to be consumed there (no take out bottles or cans) unless you also have the distribution license. So you can operate a brewpub, but they can't take it out without the distribution license and those are highly controlled and from what I hear, expensive. Then there are the health (food distributor) regulations and fees, bar fees, business licenses, etc. I've read an estimate that here in WA, it takes a minimum of about $500,000 to setup a brewpub/bar when you are brewing the beverages yourself.

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