According to a few people, like Rich at the BeerCast, (http://thebeercast.com/2014/04/carbon-smith-brewing.html)
what I started in my bedroom is “game changing” and a little bit exciting. I would go with ‘necessary’ and ‘all-that-I-could-afford’ but I take the compliment all the same! This had got me thinking though, wouldn’t it be great if this started a wave of tiny micro-breweries (pico-breweries?). They wouldn’t be in it for the money, so would be purely driven by the quality of the beer. Beer for the people BY the people – a wee bit more punk than BrewDog was perhaps?
Starting your own ‘game changing’ brewery in a bedroom, kitchen, garage or shed is surprisingly easy. There is minimal paper work, only a few hoops to jump through and most importantly – It’s entirely free.
There are two main bodies you need to contact, HMRC for Duty purposes and your local Environmental Health Organisation (EHO). HMRC is the easy one, the EHO are a little bit trickier but you can still get all the work done in a few hours. The entire process took me 4 weeks.
As of April 2017 you will also need to enrol on the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS) https://www.gov.uk/guidance/alcohol-wholesaler-registration-scheme-awrs-apply-to-register
Straight forward to apply for, just lots of bureaucracy. But you will need it if you plan to sell it to bars or wholesalers.
Also, from huge demand here is a link for a basic HACCP plan. You can probably tell I lost the will to live towards the end. Edit it to suit your processes and systems. Click Here to Download
PART ONE: HMRC.
The entire beery duty code is online:
Everything you need to know about your obligations as a small brewery is in this. I would heavily recommend reading through all of it as there are some things you will need to do – for example calculating %ABV with an approved equation and using a hydrometer that is duty-approved.
What’s important here for starting up is Section 3.3, 4 and 33.
Section 33 is the form you need to fill in. If you are just brewing and packaging at your brewery you can tick A & B on part 11, and tick No on part 12 and 13. You can entirely ignore 14-17. You also now have to think entirely in Hectolitres which is 100 Litres. Roughly 176 pints.
The other thing HMRC need is a plan of where you intend to brew and what areas inside that building will be used for brewing. This can be as simple as a neat floor-plan of your house with ‘BREWING HAPPENS HERE’ in big red letters in the intended room (Word of caution however, a HMRC officer can now just walk into the rooms you list without warrant if they believe you are doing dodgy things).
This is the actual plan I sent them:
Send all this off to the address on the duty code and you should hear back from them within a couple of weeks. They will probably say yes, as their only concern is duty and not the health and safety, that comes under the watchful eye of your local EHO.
PART TWO: EHO
This is much trickier to apply to as it varies between you local EHO office. It is against the law not to register with your local EHO if you are starting a food business and can result in nasty penalties. They will visit where you intend to brew and will be highly critical of it but if you follow what they say and can show them that enough precautions are being taken they just might sign you off.
Firstly you have to register with them. If you go to:
You can click on ‘Food Premises Approval’ for which UK country you’re in, then enter your postcode to find out exactly what you need to do.
For Edinburgh it was just a simple form with no hard questions. Just name, address etc. EHO will be quite quick with your application and will arrange an inspection.
To prepare for this I would heavily recommend:
Completing an online Level 2 food hygiene certificate – Costs £15ish and can be done very quickly in under an hour.
Writing a detailed HACCP plan – Can be done on excel, took me only a couple of hours.
Show them adequate cleaning systems you use, have it in writing on the wall.
Adequate hand wash facilities.
These things may not be ultimately necessary but the EHO inspector will want to see initiative. After the visit they may sign you off, or you will get a list of things you need to do so they can sign you off when they reinspect. Listen to the EHO officer’s advice and comply with everything they say. It ensures public safety, and the higher the hygiene the higher the quality of the beer – It really is in your interest to be as hygienic as you possibly can. You never know, you might spot your EHO officer down the pub drinking your beer.
Additionally you are obligated to have a waste contract being a business. The levels of waste you’ll be producing will probably be no greater than an avid home brewer so this may seem a bit over-kill. However, it is only enforced by an EHO warden and not the inspector so you can probably get away with it, particularly if you’re in a residential area. If you are re-using it for feeding chickens or composting and you keep a record of how much you throw away, you may be able to successfully argue your case. However, as a MASSIVE DISCLAIMER, I would recommend against it – You can get waste contracts for as little as £5 a week.
If this all goes to plan you can be operating in a couple of weeks. It is also weird that through all of this no one actually cares if you can brew or not.
Any questions just comment or email me.