Contract Brewing

  1. Has anyone ever contracted with a local brewer (commercial or home brewer) to make and bottle a beer for them?

    Any brewers out there make contract beers for someone else?

    If so, what was the experience like? What were the specification on the contract (minimum amount of beer/ minimum purchase price, etc)? What was the price point on the beer?

    I was just curious what goes into getting a big, small, or home brewer to make you a personalized batch of beer.

  2. Lot’s of beers have been contract brewed. FXMatt contract brewed for wicked pete’s back in the day when wicked pete’s was making it’s name. Two Roads contract brews for evil twin and if you have loved evil twin then you may have inadvertently loved Stratford CT. There is nothing seedy about contract brewing. Lot’s of people think ti’s the bane of the brewing world. I don’t. This allows for the idea that this a beer. It can be brewed anywhere and that is something remarkable and unique at the same time if you just think about it.

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  3. Tons of examples of larger breweries contract brewing for smaller companies, but I’ve never heard of a commercial brewery making a “custom” beer for an individual. Cool idea though! I’d love to send one of my homebrew recipes to a world-class brewer and have them tidy it up for me.

  4. I had a chance to speak to one of the owners (brewers) of East Coast Brewing (incorporated in NJ) at a beer festival. They have their beers brewed at NAB (formerly Genesee). He actually travels to Rochester and brews the beers himself. One aspect he mentioned was that they were restricted in using ingredients that NAB purchases/provides.

    East Coast Brewing will soon be opening a brewery in Belmar, NJ (I believe that is the location). The person I spoke to from East Coast Brewing is real excited about having their own brewery. Firstly, no more trips to Rochester, NY and he really wants to purchase the specific ingredients for their beers (he mentioned obtaining specific hops).


  5. Do any home brewers or really small local brewers out there have anything to add? I was wondering what it might cost me (now or in the future) to contract with a brewer to make me some beer to my specifications.

    I don’t want to suggest any prices or amounts of beer without getting an idea of how this all works, but I thought it would be cool to get a local brewer to make me one batch of beer.

  6. I’ve toured City and can attest to the scope of their packaging and co-packing, as well as order fulfillment and overall capacity. (And they can Krausen, too!)

  7. Matt didn’t take over brewing of the Pete Brewing Co. brands until the early 2000s, after Gambrinus bought the brand and it was in its decade long period of decline into extinction. Miller even brewed it for a time before that (probably fulfilling the Stroh contract).

    August Schell, then Minnesota Brewing (a Heileman spin-off that operated the old Jacob Schmidt brewery in St. Paul) and finally Stroh (in MN and NC) were the contract-brewers of Pete’s during it glory days as the #2 “craft” beer.

    OTOH, Matt was a pioneering “contract brewer”, since they brewed what is arguably the first “contract craft beer” – New Amsterdam Amber Beer – for the Old New York Brewing Co., which predated Koch’s Boston Beer Co. by a couple of years.

    Last edited: Jan 13, 2014 at 5:48 PM
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  8. Thanks for the great resource!

    I couldn’t quite find useful information on City Brewing’s website, but the NA Breweries website notes that it does 500 barrel and 1000 barrel batches. If the internet is correct, each barrel is about 4032 ounces, or 336 twelve-ounce-bottles, or 14 cases of 24 bottles. That means the minimum batch is 700 cases of beer (14 x 500). That’s a lot, even for commercial purposes. I feel like you’d have to be larger than a standard brew pub to be able to go through that much of one beer before it got old..

  9. Well, it could be that Genesee would even require a commitment for more than one batch – but that’s why I qualified my post by saying those sites would “…give you an idea of what a larger brewery offers.” For instance, you’d always have to buy labels and other packaging, as well, and the minimums on those might make one 500 bbl. batch not cost effective. Smaller breweries, of course, might offer better deals.

    In most cases (based on state laws), you would also need either a wholesale distributor license or brewery license as well, or have a distributor work with you even if it’s a private label arrangement.

    On a smaller scale, F. X. Matt does offer custom, personalized labels (no choice of beer recipe) at but you’d probably have to have it delivered to a NY address since NJ law prohibits out-of-state beer deliveries.

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  10. That Saranac label thing is cool. Great to know about.

  11. Legally, the beer from those “Brew on Premise” places are homebrew, not commercial beer.

    There are actually two BiP’s in central jersey – The Brewer’s Apprentice and Grape Beginnings in the brew-on-premise capital of New Jersey – Freehold (who’da thunk it?).

  12. Summit Brewing Company has long been a sponsor of a local BCCA event called Guzzle n’ Twirl, with their Extra Pale Ale labeled for the event with a custom paper label. Maybe not a specialty brew, but it’s fun for collectors. Other larger, regional breweries (Stevens Point, for example) offer similar options for events local to them.

    But commercial operations which are smaller still, in the 500-3,000 Barrel range have also been known to offer such an option; “Adler Brau” (a.k.a Stone Arch) had done so for many years with its year round beer and root beer brands, using silk-screened Heritage bottles.

    Unless you need a custom-crafted recipe, some of these more limited packaging options might be a more cost-effective measure to meet your needs. Good luck!

  13. This is a place I’ve been trying to get to for a few years.
    Brew on premise then come back and bottle. Small batches.

  14. You might want to look into doing a Brew On Premise like the post above mentions or as another example:

    This way you can scale your recipe to a larger quantity and then move onto a large, commercial contract brewery

Home Beer Brewing

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