One of the huge steps that we have checked off our list is submission of our federal brewery licensing application. The TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) is very interested in exactly what it is that you plan on operating. By very, I mean they want to know the coordinates of your proposed location, the layout of the brewery and tasting room, how much beer you plan on producing, how the business is organized, and, the biggest pain, they want to know a lot about the owners and anyone intimately involved in the company. That means bank statements, background checks, whether or not you have been or currently are involved in any other alcohol business. The most difficult and time consuming part of this was gathering personal and financial information from the investors who met the qualifications for being scrutinized by the TTB. If any of the investors have greater than 10% interest in the company, or are managing members, they are subject to these rules. This is all completed online, which is convenient, except that during the month or so that we were working on this, there were two occasions where the system was shut down for several days for maintenance.
We started working on the application around the first week of September, 2015, and were able to submit it on October 13, 2015. It was then accepted on October 29, 2015, which means someone has looked at it and it has been assigned to someone to review. The average processing time for a brewery application is about 132 days as of August 2015. That puts us into February before we can start brewing any beer. Fortunately we won’t have equipment until then, and our building won’t be ready before then. Now we just have to hope that we completed the application to the satisfaction of the TTB, or that 132 days can lengthen significantly.
Once the federal license is issued, we can submit our Virginia ABC application, which is no walk in the park, but much simpler than the TTB. Each state is different. Additionally, there is the paperwork required to start and operate a business in your state.
We will update the status of our licensing applications as they progress. Until then, we will be working on designing the tasting room, sourcing ingredients for the first brews (hops in particular), and finishing up our equipment orders (still need a lot of ancillary items).