Starting a beer brewery

When you run a brewery you have to do a lot more than just make artisan beer. You have to take care of sales, distribution, and administration. And, of course, you have to comply with all the relevant rules and regulations. This article tells you what you need to know when you start a beer brewery.

Number of beer breweries in the Netherlands (2020-2024)

The number of breweries in the Netherlands is increasing every year. On 1 January 2024, there were 907 breweries registered with KVK. These are not just sites with their own brew kettles. About 350 of them are rental breweries. These are brewers who devise and develop the recipes themselves, but rent another brewer's kettles for brewing and bottling.

YearNumber
2020728
2021802
2022894
2023902
2024907

Source: KVK Business Register

Brewing beer for beginners

You can start brewing beer from 3 places:

  • Brewing beer in your home

    If you want to start brewing commercially from home, you need to check your municipality’s environment plan to see if your home may be used for this purpose. This does not apply if you only brew beer as a hobby.

  • Brewing beer from business premises

    You can rent business premises to start your own brewery. Check if the space meets your demands, and if your activities are within the environment plan's scope. Check with your municipality whether or not you need an environment and planning permit (Omgevingsvergunning). A notification of the environmental impact of your business as regards waste, pollution, odour, or noise is not included in the permit. This is called a ‘melding milieubeheer’. Check if you also need to file this notification. 

  • Renting a brewery

    You can also rent a location that has a beer brewing installation. You and the renting party agree on who does what. For instance, they can brew your beer, using your recipe. Or you can choose to only use the brewing installation and do the rest yourself. The advantage of renting a brewery is that you do not need to invest in premises or equipment. Besides that, the brewer who rents you their brewery has experience, knowhow, the right permits, and usually makes all the arrangements for excise goods.

Rules for beer breweries

Hygiene code

The Commodities Act (Warenwet) details the rules you must follow when you produce, package, or sell foodstuffs. You can make use of the Beer breweries Hygiene Code (in Dutch), or you can draw up a food safety plan yourself. The Netherlands Food and Consumer Products Safety Authority (NVWA) checks if businesses abide by the hygiene rules.

Labels

The label is the most common way of informing consumers about beer. Everything that is allowed or required on a label (and what is not) is laid down in the European labelling regulation. For example, since 1 January 2023, producers of alcoholic beverages must state the ingredients, nutritional values and calories per 100 ml on the label. To guide brewers through the law, sector organisation Nederlandse Brouwers has developed a labelling manual (in Dutch).

Excise duty

Producers and sellers of alcoholic beverages have to pay excise duty. Excise duty is a tax on tobacco and alcohol products to discaourage people from buying them. Excise goods may only be produced in a designated tax warehouse. Home brewers or starting brewers need to apply for a permit to that effect: a Vergunning Accijnsgoederenplaats (Tax Warehouse Permit) to the Netherlands Tax Administration. The permit states, amongst other things, in which location you may produce and store your excise goods.

You pay excise duty digitally, at the end of a period (for example a month or a quarter). If you have questions about paying excise duty, contact the Customs Information Line.

Paying VAT

When selling alcohol, you have to deal with VAT. Beer and beer mixtures containing more than 0.5% alcohol are subject to 21% VAT. Beer with an alcohol percentage below 0.5% falls under the 9% rate. For any related merchandise, you also charge 21%.

Sector organisations

The sector organisations represent the brewers’ interests in contacts with the market, media, and politics. They also offer support in other areas, such as promotion.

These 2 sector organisations promote the interests of beer-brewing companies in the Netherlands:

General information for starting businesses

When starting a business, you will have to arrange several matters: