Frequently Asked Questions
While there is no set definition as to what constitutes a craft distillery, two of the largest craft distillery organizations, American Craft Spirits Association and American Distilling Institution, have laid out some general qualifications that are similar in nature and widely accepted throughout the industry.
According to the ACSA, a craft distillery is:
- A distillery that produces fewer than 750,000 gallons annually.
- A distillery that is independently owned and operated, with more than a 75% equity stake in their company, or operational control.
According to the ADI, a craft distillery is:
- Independently-Owned: Less than 25% of the craft distillery (distilled spirits plant or DSP) is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by alcoholic beverage industry members who are not themselves craft distillers.
- Small-Scale: Maximum annual sales are less than 100,000 proof gallons.
Hands-on Production: Craft distillers produce spirits that reflect the vision of their principal distillers using any combination of traditional or innovative techniques including fermenting, distilling, re-distilling, blending, infusing or warehousing.
While these requirements are important, the spirit of your spirit (no pun intended) is what really matters. If your focus is on waking up every morning, rolling up your sleeves and distilling the best spirit you can using the best locally-sourced ingredients, then you are indeed the proud owner of a craft distillery.
An engineer is a problem solver. They take a complex situation, analyze all possible outcomes, and present solutions that improve and enhance the initial state of things. The engineer will help to determine capacity and production requirements, select the proper equipment for creating your spirits/beers/wines, design your production floor, and ensure all federal, state, and local regulations are met (among other things).
An engineer also holds a four-year degree in engineering, possesses real-world experience in the industries, and solves problems for facility owners. There is also an industry-recognized certification that engineers can apply for, a Professional Engineer. To be licensed as a Professional Engineer (PE)—in addition to a four-year college degree—engineers must work under a Professional Engineer for at least four years, pass two intensive competency exams and earn a license from their state’s licensure board. Devin, our lead distillery engineer is a PE.
A consultant is a broad term that refers to anyone who has experience working in or with distilleries/breweries/wineries and can consult with business owners on different aspects of their business. There is no formal certification or designation for consultants. On the other hand, engineers can only use the term “Engineer” in their title if they received a four-year degree in engineering from an accredited university. While it is common for engineers to also be consultants, business consultants cannot be engineers without formal education and training in the field of engineering.
Having an architect on your team can be extremely helpful when it comes time to build your facility. Once an engineer has determined what you need to run your facility (everything from equipment sizes and piping to fire codes and sprinkler placement), there’s still the matter of arranging everything in a functional way that’s conducive to operating your business. An architect will work closely with your engineer to bring to life all the planning done thus far to create a facility that’s functional and aesthetic.
While the services of a consultant vary from company to company, the most common services include business planning, product selection, manufacturing process improvements, facility & production floor design, determining ingredient capacity requirements, equipment sizing and sourcing, utility usage and optimization, production floor improvements, TTB compliance, automation implementation, and growth planning.
Depending on the type of assistance that you need, our team can meet with you on-site at your facility. Some things that we can help with on-site include turning on a facility, evaluating your production floor to find inefficiencies and flaws, or constructing new parts of your operations. Please keep in mind that there is a premium price associated with services that are rendered on-site. The best place to begin is with an hour-long consultation with our team to understand your goals and uncover the best ways to move forward.
The first step in determining whether or not a building will work for your new craft alcohol business is to consider what you’ll be doing with the facility. Once we understand exactly what you’ll be making in your location—whether it’s a single vs multiple different spirits, lagers vs. ales, or wine varietals and ciders—we can help you maximize both your horizontal and vertical space to ensure that equipment and team members fit safely in your new facility.
While bringing in a business consultant as early in the planning process as possible is best, we understand that may who are in the early planning stages of their craft alcohol facility may not be able to hire a consultant. However, we strongly suggest chatting with a consultant (or engineer) before you begin to purchase equipment (like mash tuns, stills, presses, boilers, etc.), and when you begin to plan out your production floor. A consultant can look over your planned product mix and the production process you’ll use to create those products to help determine the most efficient way to structure your facility.
We understand that startup budgets are tight. However, we suggest that you seriously consider hiring a professional architect (preferably an architect with some craft alcohol experience) and an MEP team (Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing). A few other people to consider bringing on include a structural engineer and a civil engineer. If you’re not sure which of these people you need, it’s always best to check with your business consultant.