Can I pay a lawyer in beer?
October 13, 2009 7:20 AM   Subscribe

I'm getting more and more serious about starting a brewery. I don't know where to start with the state, the city, the FDA and the ATF. (Does the ATF even care about beer? See! I need someone who knows these things!) You're not my lawyer, but maybe you know what kind of lawyer I'm looking for and how to find them!

While I've never started a business before, I have a good deal of book knowledge -- I'm not looking for help with that aspect. I'm specifically concerned with beer laws, not small business creation.

I have no idea what I need to do to brew beer legally for sale. Obviously a lawyer sounds like a good place to start -- Googling for anything and lawyers just brings up accident lawyers. How do I find one knowledgeable of relevant law and regulation?
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Previously, sort of.
posted by zamboni at 7:24 AM on October 13, 2009

Googling for anything and lawyers just brings up accident lawyers. How do I find one knowledgeable of relevant law and regulation?

Not specific to breweries, but there is a page on the MeFi wiki that has some tips on finding a qualified lawyer in a given subject area and location.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:16 AM on October 13, 2009

Don't try to re-invent the wheel. Start with people who are experts and who know the business. For example, a brewer's association governmental affairs organization. Call/email them (not anonymously) and see if they can recommend someone to you in your home state. I think you'll find that most brewers are a pretty gregarious bunch and are willing to share information.
posted by webhund at 8:22 AM on October 13, 2009

Please PM me - this has been a dream of mine for a long time as well, and I'd love to help if at all possible (for the experience).
posted by pkphy39 at 8:41 AM on October 13, 2009

The Brewer's association is a great idea. is also the classic find-a-lawyer resource. You would look for someone who specialized in business law or commercial law. Most lawyers will tell you if they can help you with your specific problem. If they can't, ask them for a referral. Just make sure you only call attorneys with an "av" rating on the martindale site.

This will be less useful if you live in a very large city, because you'll get thousands of hits on the search.
posted by ohio at 9:16 AM on October 13, 2009

Oh, and you shouldn't have to pay anything to talk to the lawyer on the phone for a few minutes to see if she has the expertise to help you. If they want you to pay for just that, move on.
posted by ohio at 9:17 AM on October 13, 2009

Have you checked out ProBrewer?
posted by mkultra at 9:48 AM on October 13, 2009

Ask an attorney you know to direct you to another attorney who does this sort of work. If you are in VA, DC or MD, memail me.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:33 AM on October 13, 2009

eagle rock brewery is close to opening, and they have documented much of their process in their blog.
posted by jimw at 2:29 PM on October 13, 2009

You need more than a lawyer; you need a business plan. You area should have a listing for the Small Business Administration. They'll be able to give you some help, and help you find the next steps.

I once bought a small business, and the SBA advisor helped me do a pro-forma cash flow analysis that was incredibly helpful. A small business has to do most of the functions of a large business; you have to be good at a little bit of everything. Not all "experts" are good at what they do, so you have to be able to judge the work of, say, your accountant. Start taking classes now in bookkeeping and accounting.

I think this is a great idea, and with good business advice, you have a very good chance of success.
posted by theora55 at 10:24 AM on October 14, 2009

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