11 Jan 2010

TTB Brewery Approval!

5 Comments

We have officially been approved by the Tax and Trade Bureau (except for actually getting the piece of paper that says so – that’s supposed to be here this week). After plenty of shenanigans involving the Board of Equalization, our Seller’s Permit and a mistyped Social Security number, we were able to get the TTB paperwork out the door. One week later they cashed our $1,000 Collateral Bond. After that we did not hear a peep from them for a month and a half so I decided to call them. No one was in the office so I just left our IRS employer identification number and the date I sent in our paperwork. Two days later we received an email from the TTB informing us that we had to make a few minor changes to our paper, many of which they could make with our consent, but a couple that we would need to redo ourselves.

The biggest “goof” necessitated us updating the diagram of our brewery since I had labeled the “Brewing Premise” as “Wholesale Food Manufacturing” , something I had seen on other breweries’ diagrams that I had found. We also had to show proof that we had registered our trade name with the county (via a newspaper ad) and we had a lease on our building ok with having a brewery there.

So my advice after sending in your TTB paperwork: Call them. I’d say call a few days after they cash your bond. I do not think it was a coincidence that they emailed me two days after I called them. I also imagine that had I waited one more month they would have not emailed me until after I called them.

After getting all of paperwork in order we were ready for the big interview. This was probably the easiest part of the entire process, it took about 35 minutes and went over a bunch of rules and regulations.

If you’re interested, here are all the questions:

Verify that I am a brewery not a brewpub.

Prior business experience: related and otherwise.

When I intend on beginning operations.

Equipment: Own it, purchasing it, or taking over existing brewery.

Prior TTB Authorization, if any.

If I owned stock/ownership in any other TTB authorized operation before or now

Are there any other parties that will partake in the profits?

Have the owners ever been convicted of a felony?

Have the owners ever been convicted of a misdemeanor related to alcohol?

Have the owners lived outside the US in the past 10 years?

How much money has been spent on the business since/towards going pro (since changing from homebrewing – money spend as a homebrewer does not count as investment money)

Are there any loans involved to finance?

Any problem with filing tax returns and paying taxes as they are due?

Verification of the brewery’s address.

Are there were any other facilities or locations that would store non-taxed beer?

If I was aware that the TTB could come into the space at any time during business hours.

Describe the space and its appropriateness to being a brewery (floor construction, ceiling height, etc…)

Describe the brewing equipment

Where I planned to keep taxed and untaxed beers. We decided (by them telling us) that once beer left the primary fermenter it was to be taxed, ie. once it left the Brewing Premises side of the space (see diagram above)

That we need to lock our fermenters (they are houses in temperature controlled GDMs and the doors need to be lockable)

Where did I pitch the yeast?

If I’d be charging a fee for tours, parking or tasting.

If I shared the space with any other business, e.g. docks, etc

If the building was over 50 years old or on the National Historic Register

If I planned to sell interstate

If I planned to engage into an alternating proprietorship (letting other brewers use the facility) or if I planned on engaging in alternate premises (using the space to make wine, e.g.)

If I was aware that my taxation rate was $7/bbl up to 60,000 bbls

Where would I be keeping the records and would I have a reliable recordkeeping system and would they be available for audit [ref: ttb.gov, section 27CFR, section 25, subsection U]

Brewer’s Bond expires every 4 years.

If I met the local and state zoning requirements: Commercial or Residential

If I had contacted the local fire department to ensure compliance with their regulations

If I was aware that I had to register with the FDA [ref: www.fda.gov,]

That I can pay taxes and file forms online at pay.gov

That for labels I could go online [ref: http://www.ttbonline.gov/colasonline/], that the first time I would print the forms and send in, afterwards, all online and could track its progress online as well

I could sign up for automatic email updates from the TTB on the industry at www.ttb.gov

Lots of exciting information, I know, but it’s pretty straight forward. So if you are ever planning on opening a brewery/brewpub I would recommend going in this order:

1. LLC or Articles of Incorporation

2. Business License

3. IRS Employer ID Number

4. Seller’s Permit

5. Planning / Zoning Approval

6. Tax & Trade Bureau

7. Food and Drug Administration

8. Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control

9. Dept. of Environmental Health

Any other order and you’ll be waiting for paperwork to get through the system like we have. Anyways, you live and you learn.

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5 Responses to TTB Brewery Approval!
  1. VERY informative! Thank you so much!!

  2. MK Hess, this is AWESOME! If you happen to open a Colorado branch, I would love to purchase the first pint(s)!

    Doug Felton

  3. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience.

  4. Thanks!!! This is awesome.

  5. Just going through this myself opening a brewery in Madison, WI and I can say this is VERY throughough and accurate.


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