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"Selling" beer at farmers' markets

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by antlerwrestler19, Jan 24, 2013.

  1. antlerwrestler19

    antlerwrestler19 Savant (395) Nebraska Nov 24, 2010 Verified

    Has anyone here done it? There are quite a few farmers markets around here, including two newly opened indoor markets, that allow vendors to advertise/sell their products. I've recently read a couple articles where home brewers acquired their licenses to be qualified as a nano brewery then started selling or even giving away their bottled brew in order spread the good word of small batch beers. I'm just curious because I think it's something I'd like to do. I don't even plan to sell my beer for profit - just give bottles away to get our name out there before we jump to the real deal. A donation type thing could be a nice idea in order to help with the purchase the next round or homebrew. Thoughts on this?

    Cheers and good (home-brewed) beers,

  2. yinzer

    yinzer Savant (395) Pennsylvania Nov 24, 2006

  3. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Advocate (585) Vermont Mar 10, 2006

    You still have to have your federal license, keep brewing records, pay taxes, get bonded, etc. Then you will have to deal with local authorities. Figure a bare minimum of $5000 for the process of getting legal. Then the health department might demand upgrades to your brew space (which cannot legally be attached to a dwelling) before you brew your first batch to sell, etc, etc.

    Though there's this TV show called Moonshiners...
  4. VikeMan

    VikeMan Champion (855) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009 Verified

    My recommendation is to consult an attorney.
    MrOH and teal like this.
  5. pweis909

    pweis909 Champion (750) Wisconsin Aug 13, 2005 Verified

    Laws will vary from state to state and rules will vary from farmer's market to farmer's market. I remember there used to be Finger Lakes wines and hard ciders stands at the Ithaca (NY) Farmer's Market circa late 1990s. I can't recall if they sold product or just did tastings. I want to say both. I've heard of small breweries selling beer at farmer's markets but have not witnessed first hand.
  6. billandsuz

    billandsuz Savant (460) New York Sep 1, 2004

    There are 50 States and each has their own unique law regarding the sale of alcohol. Some States, VT and NY for example, actively encourage small brewers. Utah on the other hand, maybe not so much.

    Vike is correct. If you are serious, consult an attorney. Look at your States website too. NY specifically claims that an attorney is not required for this sort of thing, if you take the time and work with the regulators.
  7. You can't sell homebrew. Well, you can until you get caught.

    You can go pro. That will be an investment in time and money. You will need more than a farmer's market as an outlet.
  8. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Savant (315) California Dec 10, 2011

    Have fun making toilet hooch in jail.
  9. You can't sell homebrew because by (legal) definition it is beer brewed for consumption within the home (subject to certain permitted exceptions) for the household. If you are selling beer, it isn't homebrew or you are selling it illegally.

    To legally sell beer, you must comply with federal and state requirements. There is no super-secret exception that allows you to skirt the law.
  10. leedorham

    leedorham Champion (845) Washington Apr 27, 2006

    I wouldn't sell it at a market, but I am aware of situations where a brewer will brew enough beer for a handful of regular "drinking buddies" (friends/customers) and they will "pitch in" (pay for the beer).

    It's illegal in about the same way growing weed in your house is illegal, meaning you would never have any trouble with the law so long as you didn't give them another reason to be interested in you.
  11. pweis909

    pweis909 Champion (750) Wisconsin Aug 13, 2005 Verified

    To the advice about consulting an attorney to make sure you are doing it legally, I'll add that you should consult a business advisor to make sure that you are doing it profitably. Every time my love for brewing or cooking motivates a thought about becoming my own boss, I remind myself that I have no business experience and better brewers and cooks have run their businesses into the ground.
  12. yinzer

    yinzer Savant (395) Pennsylvania Nov 24, 2006

  13. Jimjohson

    Jimjohson Zealot (80) Georgia Dec 26, 2012

    Not in Ga.. They'd start with the no permit thing and build from there.
  14. If it's the same where you are as it is here, you are permitted to brew beer for consumption by yourself, family, guests and personal friends.It cannot be sold or given as a prize nor given in consideration for past, present or future benefit or transaction.You may not for example brew a few gallons in exchange for having your car serviced! But of course what the eye doesn't see..........
    To hand out samples to strangers in order to get yourself known could be regarded as brewing for gain.Check your local laws :)
    Jimjohson likes this.