we got our abc license

Today in the mail I received our Type 23 license (Small Beer Manufacturer) from CA ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control). Now we await the federal license from the TTB.

My ABC experience entailed 1) submit the application in person, 2) place the notice on the window for 30 days, and 3) wait. I barely heard from the ABC agent. The only time she called was to say that she finally looked at the application and that the legal department needs to see if there will be any operating conditions placed on us. I heard nothing back until receiving the license today in the mail.

ttb phone interview

This morning I had my phone interview with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) regarding our Brewer's Notice permit application. In an email with the friendly and helpful agent, I was told that the phone interview would take 45-90 minutes, but my interview lasted only 20 mins. For the most part the fairly simple interview is an opportunity for them to get more details about the brewery and notify us of some further details.

Hess Brewing Co.'s blog offers a helpful list of questions that were asked.

Now the application will go through his rounds of signature for final approval. Looks like I am on track with the TTB.

update: BOE and plan check.

Last week, I received in the mail a packet from the California Board of Equalization (BOE) for an excise tax permit. They received my information from my ABC application for a Type 23 alcohol license. I need to complete this simple form and mail it in and also apply for a seller's permit (something I tried to do earlier with no success). Once the BOE receives both, they will check this off with the ABC for my license.

Today, I was notified by the architect that the corrections for the plan check came in and things are looking good. We were able to work with the city planning dept to have the plans submitted concurrently with the CUP paperwork so we didn't need to wait for the CUP to be approved first before submitting for a plan check.

*Note: Some might be wondering why I didn't go with the plan check for the brewery first and then the CUP for the tasting room -- which should save some time by being able to open sooner than later with the associated delays in the CUP process. For me it was important to have a tasting room; I did not want to be locked into a place where I was not able to have a tasting room. So I worked with my broker and the owner to come with a good scenario where I could get out of the lease if the CUP did not go through.


update: lease begins

Not much to report since last time. Just waiting around for our CUP hearing this month (hopefully), permits to be processed, and corrections to our submitted plans to the city.

Today I did pick up the keys to our bulding (photos to follow). It was pretty nice and surreal to walk through the building and imagining the brewery's layout.

ttb application

Having tackled the California ABC license application, my next application challenge will be the (federal) Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). Fortunately the TTB has a helpful and informational website with the required forms. Here is a checklist and the list of forms online.

update: I received preliminary drawings of my brewing system. Pretty exciting...

update: abc application submitted

This morning we submitted our application for a Type 23 Small Beer Manufacturer License with the California Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC). I picked up the appllication from a local office a few weeks ago and made an appointment to come in today to submit the application. Pretty simple process. Just sit there while the clerk goes through the application asking us to sign here and there. We also received our public notice poster which has to be posted up for 30 days. So it's up. We also had to go to a place to get fingerprinted digitally through Live Scan.

This morning I also began my DBA ("Doing Business As") application to the State so I can have a fictitious business name or trade name of "Monkish Brewing Co." rather than always needing to use "Monkish Brewing Co. LLC."

I also think I found an insurance agency for our liability insurance – thanks again to Rob at El Segundo Brewing Company for the recommendation.

update: plans submitted. equipment ordered

I am realizing that I am too busy from meeting my lofty goals of blogging often. Since my last update, I purchased my brewing equipment  (i've never made such a large transaction before). I ordered a 15bbl system (1 barrel = 31 gallons). Originally I was thinking that I could only afford a 5bbl system with double-sized fermenters (10bbl), but I found I possibly might be able to scrape together enough for a 10bbl system. Then as I was getting closer to purchasing it, I decided that I might be able to take the risk and purchase the 15bbl system (hoping that I could cut costs somewhere -- perhaps in the construction of the brewery). The 15bbl scenario is the wiser choice of the three options. I've heard and read so much about the challenges of making a profit with a system less than 15bbl (despite the success stories of small ventures in the nanobrewery model). The choice from 5 to 7 to 10 to 15 barrels is like buying an Apple product. You can keep do the "it's only $50 more" to buy the next size up until you just $50 more all the way to $300 more from where you wanted to begin. Take that and add a few zeros and higher degrees of anxiety, then you get the task of purchasing brewery equipment.

Today, I submitted my plans to the City of Torrance for a plan check. I think the bewery layout looks good. I also was told that we might have our hearing for the Conditional Use Permit next month. Hopefully our timing of pushing these two applications simultaneouly will work out. Neil Rubenstein of Rubenstein Architects derserves a big THANK YOU for his helpful services in all this. This is his second brewery project, so I'd recommend him to anyone interested in such an endeavor.

I also switched the web hosting from the free temporary to – which unfortunately is not free, but is a better system for what I want to do and one with which I am familiar.

Next up: introduce myself to the tenants, ABC paperwork, TTB paperwork...


update: lease, abc, seller's permit

Today, I began the week trying to be productive by signing the lease for a property: 20311 S. Western Ave., Torrance, CA 90266. The lease does not start until the beginning of next month and we do have an out clause in case our Conditional Use Permit does not go through. This week I need to look for liability insurance before beginning my lease.

My wife and I also went to the CA Board of Equalization to get a Seller's Permit. Howver, after waiting for 1.5 hours to see someone we were told that we would not be able to get a seller's permit until we plan on being in operation within 30 days. It would have been nice to put that information in its application packet which includes the application and instructions and FAQs. Oh well! At least we know that we could go down and potentially receive the permit the same day. And at least I was able to spend quality time with my wife people watching... Angelenos are an intereting people group...

I also went to the ABC office to get an application for my Type 23 license which is for a small beer manufacturer. I hope to submit the application next week. But it does consist of 22+ pages!

This week I also hope to place my order for my brewing equipment. If not, next week for sure!

submitted CUP application.

Today we submitted our Conditional Use Permit (CUP) application with the City of Torrance. This is probably our first milestone in moving forward from a dream to a reality.

The CUP application is for a tasting room -- for patrons to visit the brewery and taste our beers. A brewery is listed as a permitted use for the zoning of the property we will be leasing, but a CUP is needed for having on-premise retail sales.

The City of Torrance's planning dept. has been very helpful. I have learned that having prelimiary dialogue about your project and goals with the planning dept of the City in which you are interested is important. Prior to Torrance, I dealt with other cities' planning dept later on in the process and it was not that helpful. I could have saved time if I talked to them early on. By having early communication you can gauge the City's interest in supporting your business and also to know what could work or not -- regardless of how you might interpret the municipal code or think it will work in your favor. In addition, whether your proposed use is permitted or not in the Code, you can talk to the City's people and find out if they would be supportive of such a project.