How to Start a Brewery: Insurance Edition
Breweries are quickly becoming commonplace in towns and cities across America. In fact, as of 2021, the number of breweries in the United States reached 9,247-one 8% increase compared to the previous year.
If you are also thinking of starting your own brewery, there are many steps you need to take from a business perspective before you can get it up and running. One of the most important steps is to put your insurance plan in place.
In this article, we̵7;ll go over the common areas of risk that come with breweries and taprooms and reveal the commercial insurance policies that can best protect you and your business.
5 common risk areas in breweries
Alongside the most obvious areas of risk, the lists below provide a glimpse into some of the most overlooked – and yet perhaps most important – areas of risk in a brewery production area.
#1 Barley dust
The dust created by crushing grain can be a problem for you and your customers when it is in the air. This dust is dangerous if inhaled and can lead to inflammatory diseases eyes, nose and skin. If exposed to ignition, grain dust is also known to explode when left to accumulate on equipment in a confined space.
The center’s proposal: Have a dedicated grain crushing area with good ventilation (or a dust collection system). Clean the area frequently to prevent build-up, and train employees in appropriate safety precautions.
#2 Pressure vessel
During the brewing process, the transformation of wort into beer takes place in a pressure vessel – a container designed to hold material at high temperatures. Although these vessels are part of the brewing process, it is important to note the dangers that can arise if they are not properly maintained.
According to The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, leaks or ruptures may occur due to cracks or other damage to the containers. These types of damage can result in short-term hazards such as poisoning, suffocation, fire and explosion hazards, as well as long-term damage to life and property.
#3 Cleaning chemicals
Sanitation is an important part of a successful brewing process, and many owners rely on cleaning chemicals to meet industry cleanliness standards. Common chemicals used in brewery cleaning include acidic cleaners, caustic cleaners, draft line cleaners, disinfectants and additional specialty products.
However, it may be unsafe to use these products in the wrong order or in the wrong places, or in conjunction with each other. Make sure to maintain one safety data sheet (SDS) for each chemical and to train each employee in proper chemical cleaning methods. This includes proper handling, storage and disposal of cleaning products and waste materials.
#4 Lifting injuries
By nature, breweries are home to a variety of heavy containers of liquids, malt, grain bags and fruit. Avoid injuries related to heavy lifting by taking proper precautions when you or your employees move these items around your space.
These precautions include proper training for handlers, body protection such as braces and lifting aids for example two-wheel hand trucks, overhead barrel lifts or electric barrel lifts. You can also help reduce the risk of injury by arranging your production facility with efficiency and personnel safety in mind.
#5 Cleaning methods
When cleaning draft lines and glassware, using the right cleaner can make a huge difference to both the safety of your customers and the taste of your brew. Consult your supplier to help you identify which product is right for your brewery, and always remember that a hot water rinse alone is not enough to kill germs and bacteria.
5 brewery-specific risks and how to avoid them
When it comes to starting a new business, there are specific liability risks to consider. However, these risks tend to be more common in establishments based on the serving and consumption of alcohol.
Below, we explore five of the most common risks associated with breweries and provide tips on how to avoid potential liability.
Risk #1: Over-serving customers
Perhaps the most obvious risk with a brewery occurs when an employee overserves a patron. Depending on your state, specifically laws will hold your establishment liable for continuing to serve alcohol to a patron who is visibly intoxicated if that person causes property damage due to their intoxication.
To avoid liquor liability, it’s critical that your servers are trained to spot the difference between patrons who are just enjoying themselves and those who have crossed a line.
The best approach to prevent this type of risk is proper training. It is important that your team is trained to recognize both obvious and subtle signs of intoxication and is supported by a culture that empowers everyone in the establishment to speak up if they witness anything concerning.
Try this: Consider enrolling in a program that Intervention Procedures Training (TIPS) to provide cost-effective training. Insurance companies often offer programs like these to their liquor liability policyholders to reduce these risks.
After general training is completed, be sure to determine and review your facility’s personal code of conduct and your state’s governing laws. Then be sure to communicate these rules to all members of staff clearly and often.
Hazard #2: Trip and fall hazards
The risk of a patron tripping and falling on your property is dramatic increases when alcohol is involved. For this reason, it is important that you take extra precautions to prevent these types of accidents.
Regular inspection of public areas should be part of your daily checklist. Be sure to do a sweep of walkways both in daylight and at night to ensure nothing poses an additional risk, and always check outdoor walkways and gathering areas are clearly lit and marked.
If your brewery is located in a region of the country that receives snow or ice during the winter months, it is also important that you consider snow removal planbecause these common dangers can become extra dangerous when mixed with alcohol consumption.
Risk #3: Entertainment and gaming
Many taprooms provide some form of gaming entertainment for patrons. Whether it’s a children’s playground, board games, lawn games or arcade games, this is often an engaging and inexpensive way to attract guests and encourage them to extend their visit.
However, as simple as these games may seem, they can pose unique risks if not properly maintained. Be sure to inspect all items associated with the games frequently and repair or replace them as necessary. Consider age restrictions for games that may pose a risk to younger children, and be sure to avoid offering attractions that become more dangerous when alcohol is involved, such as lawn darts or bocce balls.
Risk #4: Water and Fire Features
Some breweries offer access to fireplaces, pools, hot tubs, or even things like bumper cars to entertain guests. While these unique attractions can draw a crowd, each poses a unique set of risks, especially when combined with alcohol.
Activities that involve water increase the potential for drowning, and should always be supervised by a trained lifeguard. Likewise, exposure to fire can result in burns and property damage.
If you plan to offer these types of features at your brewery, be sure to hire staff whose specific job it is to monitor and restrict access to these activities as needed. Often, those under the influence cannot determine their own level of intoxication, so it is important that someone in charge is present and focused on safety.
Risk #5: Fighting on the property
Physical violence can occur when two customers become intoxicated. Ideally, the risk of a physical altercation can be avoided by not over-serving customers (see tip #1), but even the best planning cannot guarantee that you will never have an altercation between customers.
In these cases, the owner of the property can be held legally responsible for the cost of physical injuries and medical care if either of the parties involved decides to file a lawsuit.
For this reason, it is important that you take steps to prevent disturbances on your property. This includes hiring a bouncer or other form of security to stop fights before they escalate.
Staying consistently aware of the general mood in the room is an important part of preventing fights before they start. If you sense a verbal altercation between two customers, intercede as early and safely as possible to prevent things from turning physical. Always call for back-up help if and when needed.
Insure your brewery with central insurance
Central Insurance has been helping small businesses and breweries protect themselves against risks like these for over 100 years. We recognize the risk you are taking financially by simply investing in a new business and want to help protect you from any unexpected liability costs that arise from doing what you do.
Some of the most common types of coverage our brewery policyholders choose include:
Commercial Property Insurance: Central’s various commercial property packages are designed to cover the cost of repairing damage incurred to your physical space. This is a common choice for brewers given the risks associated with the brewing process and potential injuries that can result from it.
General liability insurance: This type of insurance protects you from legal liability if someone damages your property. This coverage is essential for slip-and-fall accidents or fights that occur in a brewery or on the property.
Workers’ compensation insurance: This insurance is designed to keep your employees safe while providing protection in the event of a workplace accident. Considering the high risk of injury Attributed to the brewing process alone, many brewery owners opt for the peace of mind this type of coverage provides.
Take the next step
Already centrally insured? Contact your agent today to learn more about your coverage options. If you are not already working with Central, find a central agent in your area to get started.