How Much Does it Cost to Open a Brewery in Ireland? [Brewery Startup Costs]
How Much Does it Cost to Open a Brewery?
This past decade has been huge for the world of craft beer. With just four ingredients — water, malt, hops, and yeast — and a trip to the local brewery equipment store, just about anyone can begin brewing their own batch of beer. Well, those four ingredients, some brewing equipment, and a brewery to house the entire operation!
The brewery industry quickly gained momentum when craft beer was popularised in the early 2000s. Since then, it’s continued to grow steadily, with the number of beer breweries in Ireland increasing from 26 in 2008 to 77 in 2021. Brewery-hopping and craft beer trading have become hobbies, attracting crowds of beer connoisseurs to breweries around the world to try exclusive batches.
As long as they keep making beer, people will continue flocking to breweries to share a drink with their friends and family. For budding brewmasters, that means it’s always a good time to begin laying groundwork towards opening your own brewery. Here’s how much it costs to make your brewery dreams come true, along with the business planning tips you’ll need to attract a thirsty crowd.
Average Restaurant Startup Costs
Depending on the specifics of your restaurant — where it’s located, how big it is, what format it takes, and what’s on your menu — the cost of starting a restaurant can vary pretty drastically. The average total cost to open a restaurant in Ireland ranges from €150,000 to over €500,000.
Average Cost of Opening a Brewery
Similarly, the cost of opening a brewery can also vary depending on those aforementioned factors, with one primary difference — it also includes all of the brewery equipment you need to malt, mash, boil, ferment, and package your beer.
The cost to start brewing beer in Ireland can be as little as €1200 to as much as €1.1m depending on the size of the operation and your intended space. Getting everything you need to start your own microbrewery will generally cost between €56,000 and €113,000.
Brewery Opening Cost by Square Metre
Due to the oversized nature of brewery equipment, you’ll need to find a substantial space within which to operate your brewery — especially if you decide to open a taproom so customers can enjoy your brews on-site.
You can expect to pay warehouse rental costs of around €200 per square metre per year - but that cost will vary based on your location and the size of your brewery.
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Brewery Startup Costs to Expect
Before you begin calculating costs, take some time to map out your restaurant business plan to ensure you’re allocating funds appropriately. Brewery costs vary depending on the specifics of your operation, but these are the averages you can expect.
A Breakdown of Brewery Startup Expenses
Follow this checklist to help plan and manage your budget while opening your brewery.
Beer production requires a lot of water and electricity. Based on a 760-litre batch of beer, costs for water will run you around €11.30, and costs for electricity will be around €67.80 - so estimate a total of €79.10 per batch in utilities.
Due to local regulations, you can’t open your brewery in just any available retail space. Most areas will have designated zones for the industry. To ensure you aren’t wasting any time scouting in restricted areas, check with your local government before this step. Or enlist a restaurant industry realtor who is already an expert on local regulations, required permits, and available properties.
Once you’ve determined potential locations for your brewery, outline your space requirements. For example, opening a microbrewery requires a fraction of the space that opening a standard sized brewery with a taproom does. Factor in all of the space you need to store and operate your equipment, as well as the space you need for your staff to comfortably work before making any final location decisions.
3. Brewery Interior Design
What atmosphere do you want to cultivate at your brewery? Is it going to be a relaxed, chill place where people can go on laid back dates or small group hangs? Or do you want to open a brewery with a taproom that doubles as the hottest new party spot in town? Will guests be able to take a tour of brewery operations, or will it be a more “behind the scenes” style brewing area?
The interior design and layout will dictate how people spend time there and the overall atmosphere that’s created. When designing the layout and floor plan of your brewery, ask yourself guiding questions such as:
Will you have a taproom?
If so, how many guests will you host at a time?
Is the brewery the only place where you will be brewing your beer?
Will your brewery double as an event space or venue?
How much space needs to be allocated for brewing equipment?
How much space needs to be allocated for customer seating?
Will you have table games like shuffleboard or ping pong?
Will you offer other perks like board games or cards?
Will you have arcade games or a photo booth?
Many breweries choose to include activities since they make for ideal event spaces. If you’ll be hosting weddings or other events, think about how to design a space that’s either on theme, or neutral enough to be decorated for each event.
4. Brewery Equipment
Equipment is generally the biggest cost you’ll encounter when opening your brewery. A 1 BBL package including kettle, masher, exchanger, pumps, tank, and controls can cost around €22,600. Brite tanks, two fermenters, and one chiller will be around €17,000. A yeast keg will cost you around €1,130. And then delivery and set up will generally cost a further €4,520. So, in total, your microbrewery equipment will come to around €45,250.
Regardless if you’re buying new or used, the typical equipment you’ll need to begin brewing your own beer includes:
- Fermenters, boiling equipment, and brew kettles
- Test strips, meters, stock pots, and portion scales
- Walk in refrigerators for keg storage
- Bottling and packaging tools including growlers and beverage shippers
- Keg tapping, dispensing, and serving equipment
- Safety gear and equipment
Pro tip: Buy your equipment with an eye on the future. If you’re opening a microbrewery now but plan to scale in coming years, don’t invest in pieces of equipment that your operation will quickly outgrow and need to replace.
5. Pre-Opening Expenses
Pre-opening expenses are all the costs that incur before opening day. Depending on the specifics of your operation, this can include everything from accounting and consulting fees to marketing costs and rent.
6. Marketing, Branding, and PR
Total advertising spend for alcohol brands in Ireland was predicted to grow by 3.8% in 2023 to €1.434 billion.
With the brewery world growing increasingly more crowded with each passing year, new and emerging breweries need to prioritise marketing and branding strategies in order to stand out against competing beer halls.
Here are a few brewery marketing tips:
- Develop a clear brand identity that’s unique and exciting.
- Create original branded merchandise like keychains, can holders, bumper stickers, tee shirts, and other swag.
- Run engaging social media marketing campaigns.
- Invest in marketing tactics such as paid digital ads, creating a website, and email marketing.
- Partner with local businesses.
Restaurant Marketing Plan
7. Brewery Startup Capital and Loans
The restaurant startup capital needed to open a brewery includes:
- Opening costs
- At least six months of operating costs
- Emergency funds
8. Brewery Exterior Design
One popular way that breweries save costs is by reserving their indoor space for beer production and designing an exterior taproom, tasting room, and seating area for customers to enjoy their drinks.
If you decide to offer outdoor seating and to take the design of your brewery outside, prepare to spend up to €30,000 in exterior design costs.
9. Organisational and Development Costs
Opening a brewery requires you to obtain a collection of restaurant licenses and permits before opening day. If you are intending to set up a microbrewery in Ireland, you must fulfil the following requirements before you can begin production:
- Must be authorised by their Revenue tax office as a tax warehousekeeper.
- Revenue must approve the premises as a tax warehouse that is suitable for brewing and storing beer.
- The brewer must hold a Beer Manufacturing Licence (€500 every year) before beginning production.
Work with a professional to guide you through the licensing process, as it can be tricky and it can be helpful to have some hand-holding from someone who's practised in navigating the bureaucracy in your local area.
10. Professional Services
Opening your own brewery is a lot of work. In addition to overseeing the brewing and packaging of your beer, you also need to market your brewery, apply for permits and licenses, hire staff, and ensure you’re constantly operating in accordance to local and state brewery regulations.
To help juggle all of those tasks at once, many brewery owners choose to outsource responsibilities to third-party restaurant industry experts such as accountants, solicitors, marketing professionals, and brewery consultants.
Costs will range depending on your specific needs, but new brewery owners can spend up to €60,000 in professional services during pre-opening.
11. Technology and Point of Sale
It’s official, tech has made its way into the brewery industry. Modern brewing tech tools have been designed with advanced computing and AI to revolutionise the way brewers produce and package their creations. For example, canning was once a time-consuming seven step process — now, it’s completely automated.
Brewery point of sale systems that streamline taproom operations have also emerged. Toast’s POS system is designed to improve the brewery operations experience for staff and guests, while integrating with your other restaurant tools.
Restaurant POS Comparison Tool
12. Brewery Food Costs + Partnerships
You may decide to offer a brewery food menu alongside your beer selections, or partner with local restaurants or food trucks to offer dining options. While many patrons don’t head over to breweries expecting a full dining room menu, offering a selection of snacks, appetisers, and shareable treats is a great way to set your brewery apart.
Just remember that if you do decide to offer a menu, you are required to notify the HSE. You are also required to notify the HSE if you are taking over or making a change to an existing food business.
13. Staffing and Management
Last but not least, you’ll need to allocate a fair share of your brewery startup costs to hiring staff and a management team. Breweries are specialised establishments, meaning that in addition to hiring bar and wait staff for your tap room you’ll also be hiring a roster of brewing professionals, including:
- Packaging and cellarmen
- A quality assurance/quality control team
- Head brewer/brewmaster
On average, you can expect to spend 30% of total revenue on restaurant labour costs.
Brewers, Start Your Engines
As long as there is water, malt, hops, and yeast in this world, people will find a way to turn them into beer. But starting a brewery takes more than the right equipment. It takes the passion of a brewmaster and the drive to continue producing high quality ales, stouts, lagers, and pilsners.
To find out if you have what it takes to break into the ever expanding world of craft beer, create a comprehensive business plan for yourself and manage your startup budget wisely.
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