Massachusetts Brewery Laws
To start a brewery in Massachusetts, here are the following steps you should take:
Decide the Legal Structure of Your Brewery
1) Decide what type of legal entity your brewery will become: a sole proprietorship (not recommended), a limited liability company (recommended), an S corporation, or a C Corporation. To learn about the differences between the different types of legal business entities, check out our thread on Selecting The Right Legal Business Entity For Your Brewery. We typically recommend Breweries file as an LLC using Legal Zoom which vastly simplifies the process.
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (Filing Your Brewer's Notice With The TTB)
2) In 2017, the TTB did away with requiring smaller breweries to carry a Brewer's Bond. You must secure proper licensing from the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (otherwise known as the TTB). The TTB requires you to have a signed lease agreement for the property that will house your future brewing operations. It is highly recommended that any lease that you sign be tied to a clause that says you can back out of the lease IF the TTB, state, city, or county fail to approve the operation of the brewery at the proposed location. In addition to a signed lease, the TTB will want you to provide a diagram of how you plan to layout your brewery. This is a simple, 2-dimensional drawing that describes various building features and where you intend to locate your equipment. See this thread on Filing your Brewer's Notice with the TTB for more information.
Filing For A Brewery License In The State of Massachusetts
3) Decide What Type Of Massachusetts Brewery License You'll Be Applying For
Massachusetts has 3 types of brewing licenses: Manufacturer of Wine & Beer License, Farmer Brewery License, Brewpub License. There is also the 'Pouring License' which you'll be required to file for if you have the Manufacturer of Wine & Beer License. A Pouring License may be required by the local municipality, but this will vary between counties/cities. There is no mention of the Brewpub License being required to carry the Pouring License at the state level, but it would be wise to check at the local level as well to avoid licensing issues.
4) Select A Manager Of Record
With your Brewer's Notice in hand, it is time to begin filing the paperwork required by the state of Massachusetts. One of the unique requirements Massachusetts requires that the majority of other states don't is an individual called the 'Manager of Record'. The state requires background checks on all owners, yet places added emphasis on the Manager of Record. Hence, you'll want whichever partner has the glowing background check to occupy the Manager of Record position. The requirements of the Manager of Record include the person be a resident of Massachusetts, have no alcohol or narcotic related felonies or other serious crimes, and be a citizen of the United States. Most importantly, they're the person the Massachusetts ABCC (Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission) will look to as being responsible for conforming to state rules & regulations - so choose your Manager of Record wisely!
5) The Federal government requires their approval for all beer labels, trademarks, and trade names. Prior to selling your product at the retail level, you'll need to get their approval using their online COLA system.