Craft Brewery Operations with Michael Tonsmeire – BeerSmith Podcast #228

by Brad Smith on December 31, 2020 · 2 comments

Michael Tonsmeire from Sapwood Cellars joins me this week to discuss some of the less glamorous aspects of running a small craft brewery.

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Topics in This Week’s Episode (57:45)

  • This week I welcome back Michael Tonsmeire. Michael is the founder of Sapwood Cellars in Columbia, Maryland as well as author of the book “Sour Beers” (Amazon affiliate link) and also the blog The Mad Fermentationist.
  • We start with a short update of how Sapwood Cellars has been adjusting during the pandemic, as we last talked shortly before it started.
  • Michael next moves to discussing some of the less pleasant aspects of running a commercial brewery which include complying with a web of taxes and regulations.
  • We talk about the daily logs he maintains to comply with state and federal excise tax laws on alcohol, as well as what is expected in terms of record keeping.
  • Michael also explains the dozen or so taxes he pays for payroll, income taxes, social security taxes, workman’s compensation and more.
  • I ask Michael how he was able to learn about all of the various compliance and tax issues that come up in opening a brewery?
  • Michael switches gears to talk about an article on his blog titled “The economics of opening a brewery”, which explains why the tap room is so important to remaining profitable.
  • We talk about labeling and packaging and how there are strict requirements for labeling as soon as you start to distribute across a state line.
  • Michael talks about unusual ingredients and how recipes using certain ingredients need to be approved by the government.
  • Michael explains where people can learn more about craft brewery startups.
  • He gives us his closing thoughts on running a brewery day to day.


Thanks to Michael Tonsmeire for appearing on the show and also to you for listening!
iTunes Announcements: I launched a new video channel for the BeerSmith podcast on iTunes, so subscribe now! At the moment it will only feature the new widescreen episodes (#75 and up). Older episodes are available on my revamped Youtube channel. Also all of my audio episodes are on iTunes now – so grab the older episodes if you missed any.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

sbrewingCompany September 18, 2023 at 6:09 am

This Beersmith podcast featuring Michael Tonsmeire on craft brewery operations is a gem! In-depth discussion on the differences in running a brewery, from recipe development to production ramp-up. A must-listen for aspiring and established brewers looking for practical knowledge of the industry. Truly inspiring and educational.

sbrewing company January 18, 2024 at 9:40 am

Incredible insights on craft brewery operations! Michael Tonsmeire’s knowledge shines through, presenting precious hints for brewers. Loved the in-depth dialogue on the Beersmith Podcast—inspiring and informative!

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