Starting any new brewery requires careful planning by the founders. Put simply, breweries that do not have solid and forward-thinking plans will not succeed. The ability to make a great end product is, by itself, not enough. To help you get started, I plan to publish a checklist of things related to the law you should do when you are starting your brewery. This is the fourth article of this series, which discusses filing the paperwork necessary to comply with the federal regulations and laws.
Step 4: File Your Federal Paperwork
Assuming you already completed all of the tasks outlined in Step 3, you could be ready to move onto step 4, filing your federal paperwork. In the United States, the brewing of alcohol is a closely-watched industry with numerous laws and regulations that must be complied with. You should know that this brief article does not fully cover all of these and I highly recommend you work with a qualified attorney throughout this process. Due to the large amount of material covered in this section, many topics merely have a link you can follow to a more thorough explanation of that subtopic.
Another requirement is that a brewery deposit two original copies of a federal brewer’s bond with the TTB. This requirement exists so that the federal government can ensure that the brewery pays its taxes. Bonds are obtained through surety companies (typically insurance companies). The bond must be obtained before the brewery begins making beer, and must be kept active as long as the brewery is still operating. Where the brewery anticipates tax liability of less than $1,000, the brewery is required to obtain a bond for $1,000 in coverage (costing $100/year, 4 years payment of $400 required up front).
- Personnel Questionnaire (TTB F 5000.9)
The TTB requires a completed personnel questionairre from each officer, director, member, partner, and shareholder with a 10% or higher interest in the brewery. Applicants need to divulge the following: whether these individuals have ever been arrested and/or convicted for violating liquor or tobacco products or other state or federal laws; employment history; personal references; and more. As I mentioned in Step 3, pick your partners wisely.
- Environmental Information (TTB F 5000.29)
The TTB requires that an upstart brewery complete an environmental information assessment, in order to determine whether the brewery’s activity will have a significant impact on the environment. Applicants must indicate the type and source of heat and power the brewery will use, any air pollution control equipment that will be used, and how solid and liquid waste will be monitored and disposed of.
- Supplemental Information on Water Quality Considerations (TTB F 5000.30)
Upstart breweries must also provide sufficient information for the TTB to determine if the brewery will be in compliance with Federal water pollution laws and regulations. This form is required when brewery intends to discharge waste into a navigable waterway, and must disclose the details such a discharge.
Everyone knows that taxes are an inevitability in business. The brewing business is no exception. As I mentioned in Step 2, I highly recommend that a brewery acquire a Tax ID number from the IRS early on. This number will be used to pay federal taxes. At the time of this article, federal excise taxes are set at $18 per barrel, an amount that is reduced if a brewery makes less than 2 million barrels/year. Typically, a business will have to make estimated tax payments every quarter.
You will need to register with FDA for a “Food Facility Registration”. This is tyipcally done after receiving a Brewer’s Notice. You can now complete this process online. The good news: There is no fee for registration! That is a pleasant surprise, right? The FDA has provided a Small Entity Compliance Guide to help business understand their obligations.
A brewery must also inform the FDA if it becomes aware that its product has been adulterated. A brewery typical has to show the FDA that the tampered-with product has been destroyed. The Brewer’s Association (a great resource for breweries) summarized this reporting requirement here.