Zoning is one of the stickiest issues I run into when it comes to new businesses, but particularly those businesses which fall into the “industrial use” category, as breweries often do. Not only will zoning determine whether the business is an “allowed use” in a particular location, but even if it is an allowed use, zoning regulations may also specify the extent of activities that are allowed. Moreover, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control will require a form that shows your use is allowed.
Many cities have online resources for checking zoning, but they can be tricky to navigate and understand. If you are using a commercial real estate broker to scout locations, they can be helpful in figuring out the zoning. The more experienced the broker, the better. However, probably the best way to do it is to contact the local planning or building department and make an appointment.
Keep in mind that many cities and counties have decided that they want part of the fast growing craft brewery industry, and have recently created special areas or zoning rules to encourage breweries to establish themselves there. So shop around in various cities and areas. Ask the planner or real estate broker about any such regulatory incentive programs.