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Breweries make

How Much do Breweries Make?

Tyler MartinezAuthor

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Craft brews are all the buzz — with nearly 10,000 breweries operating in the U.S. as of 2022. As you think about joining these ranks, you're likely wondering how much do breweries make?

It's a fair question for any aspiring brewery owner wondering what they're getting into — or existing owner looking to benchmark their performance.

When you think about "how much breweries make", it's important to understand the breakdown of profits, sales and revenue, and costs.

In this article, you will learn about average brewery profit margins, discuss common brewery costs, and ideas to increase sales and drive more revenue.

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How much do breweries make? (brewery profit margin)

Breweries have incredible profit potential – the gross profit margin on brews ranges between 74% and 92%. While breweries and taprooms do have other expenses such as food costs and additional labor, these expenses only expand your access to the thriving retail market that makes breweries so successful.

Are breweries profitable? (average brewery profit margin)

The first year of business will be expensive, but very critical in your brewery’s success. Startup costs for your brewery will mainly include top-of-the-line equipment, space to brew, and licenses. 

In addition to these initial costs, it’s important to account for the monthly expenses of your first year of operation. Consider the financing requirements for your first year of business carefully.

Contingency funds help your brewery run smoothly until it becomes profitable. Liquid assets in the form of a personal loan, savings, or investments will be required to pay staff or any unforeseen expenses. Even the best businesses aren’t immune to Murphy’s law!

  • Startup - $500,000- $1,500,000
    • Equipment - $500,000-$1,000,000
    • Permits/licenses - $500-$3,000
    • Contingency Funds - $20,000 - $500,000
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Costs to start a brewery

A brewpub or taproom is a combination of two business models – a restaurant and a brewery. These two models complement each other well. The restaurant provides steady exposure for your most creative brews and your brewery increases the venture’s overall profitability.

It also means, however, that the starting costs can be very high – between $500,000 and $2,000,000 on average. This guide can help you budget for all the essentials of starting a restaurant and a brewery, including labor, goods, marketing, and brew equipment.

Average brewery costs

For your first few years, the monthly expenses of operating a brewery will total 80 to 90% of your monthly sales. You might have to invest in the brewery to make up for losses in labor, food costs, or marketing. While you can deliver great brews and eats, proper financial plans are what will solidify your brewery’s long-term success.

  • Operating Costs $13,000 - $65,000
    • Parking - $500-$1,000/month
    • Insurance - $500-$8,000/month
    • Utilities - $1,000-$1,200/month
    • Marketing - $500- $5,000 (3-6% of sales)
    • Food Costs $5,000-$25,000 (30-35% of sales)
    • Labor $2,500-$25,000 (24-40% of sales)

Taking control of brewery costs

Just like with restaurants, breweries feature two categories: fixed costs and variable costs.

Fixed costs include items like your lease or mortgage, insurance premium, and other such costs that remain the same from month to month,

Operators typically have little to no control over fixed costs once they’ve been agreed upon. You may be able to negotiate fixed costs lower at the time of contracting, and there’s always refinancing and other debt-based tactics that could technically lower fixed costs.

Variable costs are where breweries can take control and eek out greater profitability. These costs include cost of goods sold (COGS) and labor costs.

Brewery COGS can include cases of hops, your grain, and any fruits and other ingredients. Variable prices can change week to week, meaning operators need to be tracking them consistently.

Labor costs are all the hourly and salaried wages as well as any benefits, comps, other costs associated with your full- and part-time staff.

Forecasting your brewery’s sales

Typically, restaurants use sales data, labor costs, food costs, and production capacity to forecasts their sales. Without sales history, it is difficult to make calculations about how your restaurant will grow each month in your brewery’s first year. Consider factors like seasonal peaks in your area, your marketing strategy, and other Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) when forecasting sales.

To start on the right foot, begin calculating your daily capacity. Conduct this process separately for your brewing operations and brewpub or taproom. Then, based on the food costs and profits of your menu, you can calculate how much you have the potential to make during a shift.

Of course, you won’t be working at capacity every shift – perhaps not even most of them in your first year. If you have sales data from a month (or even a week,) you can view the average sales from each of those days and calculate the average for each shift. A proper Point of Sale (POS) technology will streamline this process by providing you with an organized dashboard of the daily capacity data you need.

Average brewery revenue

The average revenue of restaurants, nationally, is between $250,000 and $500,000. However, the revenue potential of breweries is much higher. The profit margin on beers and ales is typically around 45%, while the profit margins for restaurants range from 3% to 15%. Luckily, with both a restaurant and brewery, you can strike a lucrative balance between the profits of your taproom and brews.

Brewery profit margin per month

A restaurant’s profit margin is typically between 3% and 5%, but some make as little as 0% while others as much as 15%. To calculate your breweries’ profit margin, use the following equation: 

monthly sales x profit margin = profit 

If your brewery averages $40,000/month in sales, and the profit margin is 4%, the profit is $1,600.

Promotion ideas to boost brewery sales

Here are three brewery promotion ideas to help drive more sales.

1. New beer Releases: Get people out to taste your latest treat off the tap. You can run a limited free tasting special to frequent visitors for one (or more) of your newest beers. 

2. Merchandising your brewery brand: Do you have lots of swag? Debut new accessories to get people in the door. You can even set up a deal so that anyone who buys a brewery shirt, mug, or hat gets dollars off their first beer.

3. Limited edition offerings: Craft beer enthusiasts love exclusivity and rare offerings. You can tap into that obsession by offering extremely limited releases. And be sure to offer a calendar of the offerings to drum up interest weeks in advance.

Typical time to reach breakeven point for breweries

Most breweries can become profitable within their first 3 years of operation, but restaurants can expect to become profitable within the first 18 months to three years, depending on food and production costs along with your business’s KPIs.

You’ll have to work to ensure that your brewery becomes profitable before you spend through your contingency funds and financing. Now that you have a full picture of how to forecast your brewery’s revenue, you can estimate how long it will take for your business to break even and see its first profitable month against startup and operating costs.

Here’s a detailed example of a brewery’s timeline for breaking even:

Drew’s Brews in Northern Virginia starts with a savings of $700,000 and takes out a loan for an additional $500,000, with a repayment period of 7 years: 


Category

Cost

Brewing Equipment

$650,000

Permits & Licences

$2,200

Contingency Funds

$547,800


The summer in Northern Virginia is the busy season and the locals in the area love to support craft breweries. While Drew is getting started, he works as both brewmaster and accountant to keep his labor costs manageable.


Category

Cost/month

Brewery/Restaurant Rental

$10,000

Insurance

$5,000

Utilities

$2,000

Food Costs

$11,000

Labor

$15,000

Marketing

$2,500

Loan payment

$6,300

Total:

$51,800

The annual cost to operate Drew’s Brews is $621,600.

Drew’s best sour beer sells well in his restaurant and he is able to keep it brewed year-round. His Drew’s Brewpub seats 115 and the average ticket per guest is $24.50 if they have a brew, and $13.75 if they don’t. His servers can turn each table over around three times per shift – serving 345 a guests a night a full capacity. About 50% of Drew’s guests visit for the brews. If he operates 6 days a week at capacity, he can make $30,955 a week, $120,405/month, & $361,215/quarter.

Category

Earnings

Monthly Sales

$120,405

Operating Expenses 

$51,800

Profit

$68,605

Profit Margin at 100% capacity:

57%

Drew can’t expect to operate at 100% capacity. During the busy season, he might operate at an average of 41% capacity and at an average of 20% to 40% during the late fall and winter. Drew’s Brewpub opens in the Spring and projects the following average quarterly sales. 

By the end of Q4, his Drew’s Brews are in most local grocery stores. His marketing strategy continues to bring locals into his brewery, until his average capacity levels off around 40% (except during the busy summer months.) The restaurant is profitable at an average of 40% capacity, which it achieves in year 3.

Quarter

Performance (average)

Revenue (120,405 x 3 x performance)

Q1

20%

$72.243

Q2

25%

$90.303

Q3

30%

$108,364

Q4

27%

$97,528

Q5

35%

$126,425

Q6

40%

$144,486

Q7

41%

$148,098

Q8

42%

$151.701

Q9

37%

$133.649

Q10

42%

$151,710

Q11

45%

$162.546

Q1240%$144,486

What's a typical brewery owner's salary

Once your brewery and/or taproom becomes profitable, then you as the owner can think about taking a salary. 

In a small operation, your salary might be a high percentage of the business's profits relative to how much labor you expend. If you are the brewmaster, bottler, and distributor, you can afford to pay yourself more.

Usually, a business owner’s salary is less than 50% of the profits. As the owner, you’ll have to make tough decisions about how much to pay yourself while also investing profits into the growth of the business. The first year can be especially daunting, but improving your sales with marketing and technology will put your brewery on the road to success.

Brew your way to success by capitalizing on the right brewery technology

Technology can empower your brewery with all the tools it needs to maximize efficiency and profitability. Set your business up for success by utilizing inventory, time-tracking, and financial software from the start. When you’re ready to scale up, the right technology keeps the business organized and your growth on track.

One pro-tip is to invest in a POS system that brings everything to one place. A reliable POS will streamline activity between your front of house, back of house, and brewery!

Running a brewery is both exciting and daunting. By understanding the profit potential of your business, you can set yourself up for long term success. Don’t slack on doing the numbers - this work can make all the difference.

If you’re still dreaming about starting a brewery and taproom, it isn’t too late to get started. On the Line’s latest article on how to start a brewery can provide you with the tips you need to brew your dreams into reality.

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