Diversifying Your Brewery: Cider

As the tastes of consumers have evolved, many now want something more unique – they want more options besides beer. Our 3-part “Expansion Series” addresses tips for managing the multiple production processes involved when diversifying your business into Cider, Spirits & Craft Cocktails, and Coffee or Cold Brew.

Our first topic in the series focuses on Cider. It’s not just equipment and new processes that impact the learning curve. It’s also about knowing your audience, selling it on premise, any possible legal hurdles, and how to report production to TTB via WRO.

Banking on the 30% growth of regional cider brands in 2017 by offering a gluten-free and decided different flavor to your customers only makes sense. Once you’ve decided to leap on the apple truck, there are quite a few things to consider when starting a cider program.

Expanding Into Cider

Over the past few years, the number of cideries in America has more than doubled, increasing from 403 in 2014 to 820 as of this January. While in many ways it’s mirrored the growth of craft beer, the number of breweries that produce it is still only around 85 as of January.

First, as with any new venture, make sure you have a business plan in place. Not only do you need a plan for procuring equipment and your own blend of apples and/or other fruit (whether you source whole fruit or juice), you’ll also want to anticipate potential demand.

According to Blake’s Hard Cider’s tips for starting a Cider business, “you may DOUBLE your production output 3 months ahead of schedule because of overwhelming demand, or you could be behind 3 months because of lack thereof.” So how are you going to know if you’re ahead of the game or behind? Creating a solid business plan is also about forecasting production, as well as tracking your sales.

Determine what equipment you’re going to need and how much funding it’ll take to purchase it all. It’s always safer to err on the side of things costing more than projected, so be prepared with a solid financial plan as well. Developing a budget, researching finance options, and solidifying your funding sources all need to be considered.

Additionally, be sure to join the United States Association of Cider Makers as a “Cidery in Planning” to make your presence known and start conversations with existing cideries. It’s also beneficial to join a cider club or take a cider making course to ensure you’re dialed in on the quality standards you’re looking to achieve. Which begs the question, are you planning to have a system, ideally production software, by which to track your quality metrics?

Lastly, be sure to research what the Cider market looks like locally and what brands they produce. “The more competition there is in a specific area, the more likely your cidery will succeed IF you break through the competitive wall,” says Blake’s. “There’s going to be a fight for market share so your product has to be ‘the best of the best’.” It’s key have internal reporting to inform how much demand there is for your cider, helping you keep pace with those in your market.

Managing Beer and Cider

As if beer and cider production aren’t difficult enough, how does one keep a handle on all of it, especially since one is reported to the TTB via the BRO and the other on the WRO? That’s not to mention tracking your financials, special production processes, barrel-aging and more.

Having a solid software program that can track all your taxable production through both TTB reports, specific expenditures for each product line, the various entities within your business, plus all the custom production methods, is essential.

Utilizing a tool like OrchestratedBEER, which can be customized to handle cider, as well as Spirits and other craft beverage production types, will only make an expansion into new products easier. It enables craft beverage manufacturers the ability to make the best business decisions by providing a single source of the truth.

Stay tuned for part 2 of our series as we dive further into the realms of spirits and craft cocktails

Learn more by scheduling a demo today.

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