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We want to start a brewery. How do we get federal approval?

There is so much more to brewing beer than just the ingredients. It is a highly regulated, specially taxed industry that requires a vast amount of front-end leg work, including TTB approval, to be permitted to brew beer in the United States.

There is so much more to brewing beer than just the ingredients. It is a highly regulated, specially taxed industry that requires a vast amount of front-end leg work, including TTB approval, to be permitted to brew beer in the United States.

You’ve got your investors. You’ve formed your LLC. There’s an operating agreement in place. You’re approved by the Secretary of State. You’ve got your financing in place. Now comes the fun part - applying for approval with the United States Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (“TTB”).

Applying for TTB approval can be a daunting task. It takes a trusted legal advisor to help you get it right the first time.

The TTB is a bureau of the United States Department of Treasury. It regulates and collects taxes on trade an imports of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms within the United States. The processing time for applications can run anywhere from 60 days to nine months. So factor in a long waiting period into your business plan and opening date of your brewery.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • D/b/a and/or operating name of the business

  • Where are you located - principal place of business

  • What is the entity formation - LLC, etc.

  • Brewery or brewpub?

  • Do you own the equipment used to brew or are you leasing?

  • Do you own the premises or lease? Who is the owner? Have a copy of the lease handy.

  • What are your plans to separate the brewery operations from the public areas? Who will be permitted to view the operations and when? Do you give tours?

  • A diagram of your operations area

  • Are you set up with tax-determined beer tanks?

  • What’s the working capacity of the tanks - barrels or kegs?

  • Are the tanks accurately calibrated with appropriate measuring devices?

  • Are you knowledgeable about transferring beer ready for consumption or sale from fermenters into empty tax-determination tanks for measurement by the measuring device?

  • Due you know how to promptly and accurately keep records of the transactions to determine when taxes are due?

  • Are you conducting retail sales of alcohol other than beer?

  • Are you a member of a controlled group of breweries (i.e., sharing the operations facility and brewing different beers)?

  • Will you produce more than 60,000 barrels but not more than 2 million barrels per year?

  • Be able to describe the tract of land with distances and directions

  • Describe the brewery premises - size, construction, use of building, location of doors and windows

  • Identify the areas fo the brewery used as a pub.

  • What security measures are in place to prevent access to non-public areas?

  • What’s the method to be used for measuring beer for purpose of tax determination?

  • Are you required to have a brewer’s bond?

  • Do you need a surety in case of bond? If so, you’ll need their consent.

  • You need to disclose source of income - financing, loans, capital contributions of members, etc. This is very important to have in place prior to applying because it’s a huge component of the application.

  • Make sure that none of your members have been convicted of alcohol or drug offenses.

  • Designate a party to sign on behalf of the company

  • Provide a copy of the operating agreement

  • Execute a form power of attorney to allow your lawyer to speak directly with the TTB on your behalf.

Once this is done, then you’ll need to file a Brewer’s Notice and also apply for labeling approval to comply with all labeling disclosure regulations. Yes, you need to submit your images to the TTB for individual approval. Also, make sure you trademark your beer names in advance. This isn’t part of the application process but it’s important business-wise in the future.

The Mayo Law Group Can Help.

The Mayo Law Group PLLC represents more than fifty companies in Washington State. We have assisted microbreweries and brewpubs in obtaining federal and state approval to brew their beer. Trust us when we say: you want to get it right the first time. It’s labor intensive. It’s a ton of paperwork. It’s a major undertaking. It takes a long time. Schedule your free consultation today to see how we can help you get your microbrewery or brewpub up and running.

Mack Mayo