Building a Brewery: The Devil is in the Code


Building a Brewery: The Devil is in the Details Code

Tips for navigating the design process and local building codes while planning your next brewery.

SpindleTap from the parking lot back before they had a name

Breweries are becoming a community staple and the collective experience of city officials with this building type has increased allowing for a better-permitting process. The local building codes while planning your next brewery could make or break your big dream.

However, each local jurisdiction is different, and depending on their familiarity with breweries and the facility requirements, local building codes while planning your next brewery can change depending on the exact location in Houston. This can impact your brewery build-out.

SpindleTap’s taproom on day 1

Finding a design team that understands the brewing process and has experience in explaining these differences to the City will allow for more efficiencies and a shorter timeline. Here are some things to look out for on your next brewery build-out:

Baileson brewing from the streets


Most cities are welcoming to a brewery but don’t know enough about them from a building code perspective. If a local jurisdiction has no experience with breweries, it may be necessary to take additional steps to help city officials understand the brewing process and requirements necessary.

You’ll need to understand your city’s zoning ordinances and how your prospective location is zoned. A formal rezoning process may be necessary for a property to allow for alcohol production, sales and consumption.

Baileson Brewing learend local building codes while planning your next brewery

It’s also important to note Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission (TABC) regulations. For example, TABC says you can’t sell alcoholic beverages within 300 feet of a public or private school, church or public hospital, and the distance from a school can be increased to 1,000 feet under certain circumstances. In dense, urban areas with limited real estate options, it can be a challenge to find the right location to suit the local building codes while planning your next brewery.

Buff Brew’s parking lot is going to be a movie

Paving paradise

Parking is typically calculated by number of parking spaces per thousand square feet based on the building’s use. Each jurisdiction varies but in the City of Houston, typical warehouse/storage occupancies only require 1 parking spot per 7,000 square feet of space and a bar, restaurant, or tap room requires 12 parking space per 1,000 square feet. This change in occupancy can become a challenge in urban centers with minimal parking availability.

Buff Brew renders

Quality H2O

Any time you change a building’s occupancy type the City of Houston and other local jurisdictions require a Utility Review to calculate how much water will be used in the new occupancy vs the previous.

They charge a fee for the difference in “water credits.” This can be a high number for breweries given the importance of water to a brewery.

Since wastewater capacity is often determined by water usage, this traditional model isn’t logical with breweries because most of the water used goes back into the product, not down the drain.

Having an experienced design team can help you negotiate with the city’s utility department to help them better understand the process.

Additionally, many cities are concerned with the treatment of process wastewater and require anything from a typical solids interceptor or PH monitor system to the pretreatment of wastewater.

Understanding your local requirement upfront will prepare you for the cost associated with these systems.

Eureka Heights learns local building codes while planning your next brewery


Eureka Heights Brewing Co. in Houston was a renovation of a former food distribution center. The building foundation was insufficient for the weight of the tanks planned for the brewery.

The foundation in the production area had to be cut out and replaced with a stronger foundation to support the current and future tanks.


To see, or not to see…. the brewhouse

Some permitting offices treat breweries as an industrial process facility while others look at them as a bar or restaurant and sometimes codes for both occupancy types are used.

City of Houston requires the brewhouse to be enclosed to meet health and safety requirements, however other jurisdictions allow it out in the open. Code requirements must be carefully coordinated with local authorities, as there are many factors such as sprinkler systems and the size of your brewery that could also require the brewhouse to be closed off.


Raise the roof

Bear King Brewing in Marble Falls, Texas renovated a former warehouse into their new brewery; however, the existing clear heights were too low for the larger tanks. A section of the roof and part of the secondary structure was removed to build a new pop-up roof to allow for the height of the new tanks.

Involving a local brewery design team at the beginning of your project can help you navigate how your local jurisdiction handles these facilities and can save you a lot of time and headache further into the project.

Method Has Changed the Game

Method has helped plan, build-out, or add to some of your favorite breweries. Many of them will be at Brewmasters’ 10th Anniversary Beer Festival.

Great Heights
Eureka Heights
And literally many more, but not in the corny late-night infomercial way….

Get some tickets to one of America’s highest rated beer festivals, support Method Architecture, Houston breweries, and save yourself some $ on general admission tickets to Saturday’s Brewhaha beer tasting with code “BC”


Method Architecture is an ego-free architecture and interior design firm specializing in brewery and distillery projects as well as retail, industrial, office and public. Method has designed over 30 breweries and distilleries across Texas.


Beer Chronicle Team

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