We bought a house in 2011 and our real estate agents weren’t the ones who found it. We knew exactly what we were looking for, could see all the listings and visit open houses on our own. Brewery real estate, on the other hand, is something a bit more complicated. There is zoning, size, access, utilities, parking, ceiling height, floor load, HVAC, expansion potential, and on and on to worry about. Lucky for me, there is a local guy who does this for a living and was willing to give me an hour of his time. Mike Lanzarotta also owned a brewery in the late 80s and stays up on the local brewery scene, so he is a helluva resource.
The biggest take away, which I kinda already knew but this confirmed it, was how tough it is going to be to find a location in Pasadena (sidenote - are you an industrial real estate owner in Pasadena? If so, let’s talk!). He has assisted in looking for Pasadena locations in the past and judging by the dearth of breweries in the City, those guys failed to locate there. This is almost entirely due to the small amount of industrial land in the City (I am going to do a separate post dedicated to zoning, since it is so damn interesting). We prefer to take a positive outlook - Because it is so hard, when we do find a location and open the brewery, it will give us the advantage of being the first brewery with tap room in the City.
Other points he made -
A couple thousand square feet is good for a smaller sized brewery
Don’t discount the value of high ceilings for expansion potential (this is because fermenters get taller as they get bigger, not so much wider)
Landlords are typically not willing to do improvements for industrial buildings like office landlords are.
Concessions for free rent are pretty common, and a 5 year lease makes landlords all the willing to deal. This is crucial because there is a multi-month period between when you sign a lease and when you sell your first pint.
Most cities don’t want breweries to have outdoor seating (Those cities are no fun)
For electricity, 200 Amp 3 Phase is good up until 10bbl, at which point you want 400 amp
Brewery consultants and permit expeditors are a waste of money
Pasadena industrial rents are in the $1-$1.25 per sq.ft range (may actually be higher right now), but those buildings are often TOO nice (read - unsuitable for brewery use). This is more expensive than rents in most other areas in Greater LA
For a 7bbl brewery, $200k is the starting point for how much money you need
Don’t skimp on your fermenters, buy stainless steel unitanks (the place where sugar water transforms into beer)
Mike also said that Pasadena would be a great location for a production brewery with tap room, IF IT COULD BE DONE. So I take that as a ringing endorsement of my plans and look forward to being congratulated by him for finding a perfect Pasadena location.
Also, Mike sent along some helpful links which we will add to the Resources page and has a blog of his own that covers a lot. Check it out here -