Contract Brewing: Fastest Road to Market

all about contract brewing

The term “contract brewing” has long been considered an almost a dirty word in the world of beer aficionados and restaurateurs. However, that perception is quickly changing as more small-scale craft brewers are finding that contract beer brewing can bring their excellent products to the masses.

Defining Contract Beer Brewing

Contract brewing is something that has been happening for decades. It is simply the act of a large, existing brewery renting its equipment to a smaller brewery so that the smaller brew house increases its production.

The amount of involvement in the brewing itself depends on the relationship between the two breweries. In some cases, the small brewery simply writes a check to the larger one for its services, allowing the larger brewery to make decisions about the recipe, brewing, packaging and even shipping. Other small breweries take a much more hands-on approach, involving themselves in every step of developing a recipe, brewing and packaging.

The Popularity of Contract Brewing

Today is an era of small breweries and homemade craft beers. Most new breweries that are opening are located in small spaces and are producing limited quantities of their beers. As these small businesses continue to grow in popularity, they must decide how to proceed with their brewing. They may choose to open their own larger breweries, taking a risk by purchasing expensive equipment and by significantly increasing their production. Instead, they may choose to partner with another brewery to produce their products on a moderate scale without the risk of purchasing more space and equipment.

In this way, contract beer brewing can be a great strategy for startup breweries to expand and explore the possibility of reaching a larger market. Small-scale brewers have access to high-quality equipment that they would not have been able to afford on their own.

Becoming a Contract Brewer

A home brewer who has made some good batches that are popular with friends and family may start thinking that mass-producing and selling as the natural next step with their craft beer venture. Because upstart cash is scarce to begin the process, most home brewers need to turn to partnerships with existing brewers to make this dream a reality.

Long-standing breweries are likely too busy to take on any additional contracts with small upstart breweries, so the best method is to find a brewery that is new or is expanding. These new breweries are more likely to have the extra space, and may be looking for additional income. The best partnerships are with breweries that can offer high-quality beers at the right quantities and with distribution or shipping included.

Contract brewing can be a great way to initially get involved in the business, but it is not as simple as it may seem. Finding the right partnership that is mutually beneficial is key.  There aren’t many groups matching up potential contract brewing partners but working with a company like Unlimited Brewing Company that helps navigate through the contract brewing, legal, distribution, and logistics process can be a huge help!



Angela is always adding to her collection of countertop concoctions and basement brews. From beer to kombucha...if you can make it at home she's probably tried it.