Reading time: 4 minutes

So, you want to start a microbrewery? Opening a new business is a new and exciting challenge that has the ability to be very profitable. Along with the usual challenges associated with starting and running a small business, when opening a microbrewer, you will need to think about food and beverage production and sale. In this article, we run through some of the main legal and regulatory issues to help bring your microbrewery dream to life.

What Will I Call my Brewery?

Equally as important as your brew, is a memorable name. “Old Wives Ales” and “Shenanigans Brewing” rank high on my favourites list. Once you have decided on your name, you should ensure that nobody else has taken it through a few simple searches. Google and the Independent Brewers Association are good starting points, as well as ASIC’s Business Name search. Next, you would register your business name and potentially talk to a lawyer about trade marking your brand.

Producer/Wholesaler License for Brewers

To sell your product, you will need a Producers/Wholesalers Licence. In NSW, you can obtain this from the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing. The license will allow you to:

  • sell your product to other licensees;
  • sell you product to the public; or
  • conduct tastings of your product.

You may want to run brewery tours, or allow the public to come and taste your beer as a way of introducing your product to new customers and selling more beer.

The Producer/Wholesaler license will enable you to sell your product to other licensees (their employees or related corporations) at any time. However, you can only make retail takeaway sales to the public between:

  • 5am to 10pm on Monday through to Saturday, and
  • 10am to 10pm on a Sunday.

While you can apply for extended trading hours, there is a 6-hour closure period that applies to all licenses.

The annual fee for a Producer/Wholesaler license is $500. If you produce less than 100,000 litres per year, you may qualify to pay the reduced annual fee of $200.

Additional Permits

Along with extended trading authorisation, you may consider attaching additional permits to your license including the drink on-premises authorisation, allowing you to sell your beer to the public for consumption on your premises. You will also need this if you are considering opening a bar, café/restaurant, guest accommodation or function centre.

You can also apply for an industry liquor-show and producers markets authorisation. This allows you to provide samples for tasting and selling unopened beers to the public at industry shows and farmers markets with at least ten stalls.

To obtain your Producer/Wholesaler license, you will also need to lodge the following notices that you can find at the end of the application form along with lodgement instructions:

  • public consultation – site notice;
  • police notice; and
  • local consent authority notice.

You will also need to have a Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA). For more information on this in NSW see the Office of Liquor, Gaming & Racing.

Beer Excise

Home-brewed beer produced for your personal consumption is excise-free. However, once you make the move to nano or micro-brewery, you will need to pay excise on any beer you produce to sell. Excise is a tax that is placed on:

  • alcohol;
  • tobacco;
  • fuel; and
  • petroleum products.

The actual alcohol content, as well as the volume in which you sell your beer, determines the excise rates. For example, the excise rate differs depending on whether you sell your beer in a bottle or keg (>48 L). The rate of excise on beer is indexed twice a year in line with the consumer price index in February and August. For the current excise rates see the Australian Tax Office website.

Labelling of Alcoholic Beverages

The Australian and New Zealand Food Standards Code (Code) forms the basis for food and beverage regulation in Australia.

The Code contains general food standards that apply to all food and a standard specific to beer (Standard 2.7.2). The Code covers not only the production of Beer but also labelling requirements. A copy of the code is available Food Standards Australia New Zealand and regulates the inclusion of information such as:

  • volume;
  • alcoholic content;
  • standard drinks;
  • country of origin;
  • best before date; and
  • barcode.

Key Takeaways

There is a lot more to commercial brewing than just malt, water, yeast and hops. You need to consider:

  • what you will name your business;
  • your licencing requirements;
  • tax requirements; and
  • labelling regulation.

If you need help setting up a microbrewery, contact LegalVision’s business lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Webinars

Redundancies and Restructuring: Understanding Your Employer Obligations

Thursday 7 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
If you plan on making a role redundant, it is crucial that you understand your employer obligations. Our free webinar will explain.
Register Now

How to Sponsor Foreign Workers For Your Tech Business

Wednesday 13 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Need web3 talent for your tech business? Consider sponsoring workers from overseas. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Advertising 101: Social Media, Influencers and the Law

Thursday 21 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Learn how to promote your business on social media without breaking the law. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Structuring for Certainty in Uncertain Times

Tuesday 26 July | 12:00 - 12:45pm

Online
Learn how to structure to weather storm and ensure you can take advantage of the “green shoots” opportunities arising on the other side of a recession.
Register Now

Playing for the Prize: How to Run Trade Promotions

Thursday 28 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Running a promotion with a prize? Your business has specific trade promotion obligations. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Web3 Essentials: Understanding SAFT Agreements

Tuesday 2 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Learn how SAFT Agreements can help your Web3 business when raising capital. Register today for our free webinar.
Register Now

Understanding Your Annual Franchise Update Obligations

Wednesday 3 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
Franchisors must meet annual reporting obligations each October. Understand your legal requirements by registering for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Legal Essentials for Product Manufacturers

Thursday 11 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Online
As a product manufacturer, do you know your legal obligations if there is a product recall? Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a commercial law firm that provides businesses with affordable and ongoing legal assistance through our industry-first membership.

By becoming a member, you'll have an experienced legal team ready to answer your questions, draft and review your contracts, and resolve your disputes. All the legal assistance your business needs, for a low monthly fee.

Learn more about our membership

Need Legal Help? Submit an Enquiry

If you would like to get in touch with our team and learn more about how our membership can help your business, fill out the form below.

Our Awards

  • 2020 Innovation Award 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Award 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2020 Financial Times Award 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year Award 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2022 Law Firm of the Year Winner 2022 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards