How to Start a Brewery in Ontario: From Concept to Pouring the Perfect Pint

Welcome to a world where hops meet entrepreneurship, and the art of brewing converges with business acumen. If you’ve ever envisioned yourself at the helm of a thriving brewery in the heart of Ontario, this article is your ticket to uncovering the secrets of success in the dynamic craft beer industry.

We will guide you through a comprehensive journey, providing invaluable insights and practical advice on how to navigate the rewarding path of starting a brewery in Ontario. Let’s raise our glasses to the thrilling possibilities that lie ahead as we delve into the realm of starting a brewery in Ontario and unlock the potential of craft beer entrepreneurship. Cheers to your brewing dreams becoming a reality!

Key Takeaways

  • Research the industry and create a solid business plan before investing any money into your brewery.
  • Navigate the legal requirements for starting a brewery in Ontario, including obtaining a brewery license and complying with regulations set by the AGCO.
  • Understand the market demand, competition, and industry trends to increase your chances of success.

1. Understanding the Brewery Industry in Ontario

Starting a brewery in Ontario can be a lucrative business venture, but it’s important to understand the industry before diving in. The craft beer industry in Ontario has been growing steadily over the years, with over 340 craft breweries operating in the province.

One of the reasons for the growth of the craft beer industry in Ontario is the increasing demand for locally produced, high-quality beer. Consumers are becoming more interested in trying unique and flavorful beers, and are willing to pay a premium for them. This has led to a rise in the number of craft breweries and brewpubs across the province.

Another factor contributing to the growth of the industry is the support from the Ontario government. The government has implemented policies and programs to support the growth of the craft beer industry, such as the Small Cidery and Small Distillery Support Program and the Ontario Craft Beer Strategy. These programs provide funding and support for new and existing craft breweries, making it easier for entrepreneurs to enter the industry.

However, it’s important to note that the brewery industry in Ontario is highly competitive. With over 340 craft breweries operating in the province, it can be difficult for new breweries to stand out and attract customers. To succeed in the industry, you’ll need to have a strong business plan, a unique brand, and high-quality beer.

2. Creating Your Brewery Business Plan

Starting a brewery in Ontario requires a solid business plan to guide you through the process. A business plan is not only essential for securing funding from investors, but it also acts as a roadmap that guides you through the process of opening your business. Here are some sub-sections to consider when creating your brewery business plan.

Market Research

Before you can create a successful brewery business plan, you need to conduct market research. This research will help you identify your target market, understand your competition, and determine the demand for your product. You can conduct market research by:

  • Surveying potential customers to understand their preferences and needs
  • Analyzing your competition to understand their strengths and weaknesses
  • Conducting a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) to identify potential challenges and opportunities in the market
  • Analyzing industry trends and regulations

By conducting thorough market research, you’ll be better equipped to create a business plan that addresses the needs of your target market and sets you apart from your competition.

Business Model

Your brewery business model will outline how you plan to generate revenue, manage expenses, and achieve profitability. When creating your business model, consider the following:

  • Your target market and the products and services you’ll offer
  • Your pricing strategy and how it compares to your competition
  • Your marketing and advertising plan to attract and retain customers
  • Your production and distribution plan to ensure efficient operations and timely delivery of products
  • Your financial plan, including revenue projections, expense forecasts, and cash flow analysis

By creating a comprehensive business model, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions and achieve your business goals.

3. Legal Requirements for Starting a Brewery in Ontario

Before you can start brewing beer, you need to obtain the necessary permits and licenses, and comply with zoning laws and other regulations. In this section, we’ll cover the legal requirements for starting a brewery in Ontario.

Obtaining Necessary Permits

To start a brewery in Ontario, you need to obtain several permits and licenses from different government agencies. These include a brewery license from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, Take Water Permit from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change if a brewery operations taking more than 50,000 L of water a day, and an excise duty license. You may also need a zoning permit from your local municipality.

To obtain these permits and licenses, you need to submit an application and pay a fee. The application process can take several months, so it’s important to plan ahead and start the process early. You also need to provide detailed information about your business, including your business plan, financial statements, and details about your brewing process.

Zoning Laws

Zoning laws regulate the use of land and buildings in Ontario. Before you can start a brewery, you need to make sure that your property is zoned for industrial or commercial use. You may also need to comply with other zoning regulations, such as setback requirements, parking requirements, and noise restrictions.

To find out about zoning regulations in your area, you can contact your local municipality. It’s important to make sure that you comply with all zoning regulations, as failure to do so can result in fines or legal action.

4. Finding the Perfect Location

When starting a brewery in Ontario, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing the perfect location. Your brewery’s location can make or break your success, so it’s crucial to take your time and consider all the factors involved. Here are a few tips to help you find the perfect location for your brewery:


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    Consider the Local Market

    When choosing a location for your brewery, it’s important to consider the local market. Look for areas with a high demand for craft beer, such as neighborhoods with a lot of young professionals or trendy restaurants and bars. You’ll also want to consider the competition in the area and make sure there’s enough demand to support another brewery.

    Look for the Right Space

    Finding the right space for your brewery is essential. You’ll need a space that’s large enough to accommodate your brewing equipment, as well as a taproom or tasting room for customers to enjoy your beer. Look for spaces with high ceilings and good ventilation to ensure your brewing equipment can operate efficiently. You’ll also want to consider the layout of the space and how it will flow for both brewing and customer traffic.

    Consider the Logistics

    When choosing a location for your brewery, it’s important to consider the logistics involved. Look for spaces with easy access to major roads and highways, as well as public transportation. You’ll also want to consider the availability of parking for both customers and employees.

    Research Zoning and Permits

    Before choosing a location for your brewery, it’s important to research zoning and permits in the area. You’ll need to make sure the space is zoned for commercial use and that you have all the necessary permits and licenses to operate a brewery. Check with local authorities to ensure you’re following all the regulations and requirements.

    By taking the time to carefully consider all these factors, you can find the perfect location for your brewery in Ontario. Remember, your location is a key factor in your success, so it’s important to choose wisely.

    5. Choosing Your Brewery Equipment

    Starting a brewery in Ontario requires a significant investment in equipment. You’ll need to purchase various types of equipment to brew, ferment, store, and serve your beer. Here are some essential pieces of equipment you’ll need to consider:

    Brewhouse Equipment

    The brewhouse is the heart of your brewery, where you’ll brew your beer. The brewhouse equipment includes:

    • Mash tun: where you mix hot water and grains to create wort.
    • Brew kettle: where you boil the wort with hops to add flavor and aroma.
    • Heat exchanger: where you cool the wort before transferring it to the fermenter.

    Fermentation Equipment

    Fermentation is where the magic happens, and yeast turns the wort into beer. Fermentation equipment includes:

    • Fermenters: where you ferment the beer and control the temperature.
    • Yeast propagation equipment: where you grow yeast for pitching into the fermenter.
    • Brite tanks: where you store and carbonate beer before transferring it to the serving tanks.

    Serving Equipment

    Once your beer is ready, you’ll need to serve it to your customers. Serving equipment includes:

    • Serving tanks: where you store and serve beer.
    • Kegs: where you package beer for distribution.
    • Tap system: where you pour beer into glasses.

    Other Equipment

    In addition to the above equipment, you’ll need to consider other equipment, such as:

    • Cleaning equipment: to keep your brewery clean and sanitized.
    • Water treatment equipment: to ensure your water is suitable for brewing.
    • Grain handling equipment: to store and mill grains before brewing.

    It’s essential to choose the right equipment for your brewery. Consider factors such as the size of your brewery, the types of beer you’ll brew, and your budget. You can purchase new or used equipment, and there are various suppliers in Ontario to choose from.

    6. Hiring Your Team

    Starting a brewery in Ontario requires a team of passionate and knowledgeable individuals who can help you bring your vision to life. In this section, we’ll explore the key roles you’ll need to fill and what to look for when hiring your team.


    The brewmaster is the heart and soul of your brewery. They will be responsible for developing and executing your beer recipes, ensuring quality control, and managing your brewing team. When hiring a brewmaster, you’ll want to look for someone with a strong background in brewing science and experience in a commercial brewery setting. They should have a deep understanding of the brewing process, including recipe development, yeast management, and quality control. A degree in brewing science or a related field is a plus.

    Sales and Marketing Team

    Your sales and marketing team will be responsible for creating a marketing plan, promoting your brand, building relationships with customers, and driving sales. When hiring for these roles, you’ll want to look for individuals with experience in the beer industry, a strong understanding of marketing and sales principles, and excellent communication skills. They should be able to develop effective marketing campaigns, build relationships with key accounts, and represent your brand at events and festivals.

    In addition to these key roles, you’ll also need to hire a team of brewers, packaging operators, and administrative staff. When hiring for these roles, look for individuals with relevant experience and a passion for beer. Consider offering training and development opportunities to help your team grow and develop their skills.

    7. Brewing Your First Batch

    Congratulations on starting your own brewery! Now it’s time to make your first batch of beer. Here are some tips to help you along the way.

    Recipe Development

    Before you start brewing, you need to develop a recipe. There are many resources available online to help you get started. You can also experiment with different ingredients and techniques to find what works best for you. Here are some things to consider when developing your recipe:

    • Style: What style of beer do you want to make?
    • Ingredients: What malts, hops, and yeast will you use?
    • Water: What kind of water will you use? Different water sources can affect the flavor of your beer.
    • Techniques: What brewing techniques will you use? Will you use a mash tun or brew in a bag?

    Once you have developed your recipe, it’s time to start brewing!

    Quality Control

    Quality control is an essential part of brewing. Here are some things to keep in mind:

    • Sanitation: Make sure all of your equipment is clean and sanitized before you start brewing.
    • Temperature: Keep an eye on the temperature throughout the brewing process. Different styles of beer require different temperatures.
    • Gravity: Use a hydrometer to measure the gravity of your beer. This will help you determine when it’s ready for the next step in the brewing process.
    • Taste: Taste your beer throughout the brewing process. This will help you make adjustments and ensure that your beer is turning out the way you want it to.

    By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to brewing your first batch of beer. Good luck!

    8. Marketing Your Brewery

    Starting a brewery in Ontario is exciting, but marketing your brewery is an essential part of ensuring its success. Here are some tips to help you get started.


    Your brewery’s brand is what sets you apart from your competitors. It’s the first thing people will notice when they see your beer on the shelves or visit your taproom. Therefore, it’s important to create a strong brand that resonates with your target audience.

    Your brand should reflect your brewery’s personality, values, and unique selling proposition. It should be consistent across all touchpoints, from your logo and packaging to your website and social media profiles.

    To create a successful brand, consider the following:

    • Conduct market research to understand your target audience and competition.
    • Develop a unique brand identity that reflects your brewery’s story and values.
    • Create a consistent visual identity, including logos, colors, and typography.
    • Develop a brand voice and tone that resonates with your audience.
    • Use your brand consistently across all marketing channels.

    Advertising Strategies

    To promote your brewery and its products, you’ll need to develop a comprehensive advertising strategy. Here are some advertising strategies to consider:

    • Social media advertising: Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter offer targeted advertising options that allow you to reach your ideal audience.
    • Influencer marketing: Partner with social media influencers who have a large following in your target market. They can promote your brewery and its products to their audience.
    • Event marketing: Host or sponsor events that align with your brewery’s values and target audience. This can help increase brand awareness and attract new customers.
    • Print advertising: Consider placing ads in local publications or industry magazines.
    • Outdoor advertising: Billboards, bus stop ads, and other outdoor advertising options can help increase brand awareness.

    Remember, advertising can be expensive, so it’s important to track your return on investment and adjust your strategy accordingly.

    9. Closing Comments

    One of the most important things to keep in mind is that running a brewery is hard work. It requires a lot of time, effort, and dedication, and you’ll need to be prepared to put in long hours and make sacrifices along the way. However, if you’re passionate about craft beer and willing to put in the effort, it can also be an incredibly fulfilling and satisfying experience.

    Another key factor to consider is the importance of community. As we’ve discussed throughout this guide, building relationships with your customers, suppliers, and other members of the local brewing community is crucial to your success. By fostering a sense of community and collaboration, you can create a loyal following and establish yourself as a respected member of the industry.

    10. Resources for Brewers in Ontario

    Government Resources

    Industry Resources

    Industry Resources

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