Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

Updated: August 21, 2023 10 Things

10 Things I know about ... Pub brewery conversions

Massachusetts farmer breweries are often looking for new ways to increase their appeal to customers. One option is to convert their farmer brewery license to a pub brewery license to provide more alcoholic beverage options in their taprooms. Here are 10 considerations.

Mark Borenstein in a suit, smiling
Photo | Courtesy of Mark Borenstein
Mark Borenstein is a real estate attorney with Worcester law firm Bowditch, who counsels within the food and beverage industry, representing breweries, wineries, distilleries, and restaurants. Contact him at

10) Pour something stronger. Pub breweries may pour all types of alcoholic beverages produced by third parties while farmer breweries are only able to pour malt beverages made by or for them.

9) Multiple manufacturing licenses. Farmer breweries wanting to sell all alcoholic beverages but do not want to convert to a pub brewery will need to obtain additional time-consuming and complicated federal, state, and local approvals.

8) Self-distro. Pub breweries may only distribute through a wholesaler. Farmer breweries may self-distribute up to 50,000 gallons per year.

7) To-go sales limitations. Pub breweries’ to-go sales are limited to two gallons of beer per transaction. Farmer breweries have no limit.

6. Additional beers on tap. Pub breweries may pour beers produced by other breweries, provided no less than 50% of all beer sold by the pub brewery is produced on the pub brewery’s premises. Farmer breweries may only pour their beer.

5) Pouring license availability. Pub breweries are required to apply for a pouring license for on-premises consumption, which may not be available due to limits on the number of such licenses. Farmer breweries are eligible for a special type of pouring permit not limited in number.

4) Out-of-state Restrictions. Pub breweries are prohibited from holding certain licenses in states outside of Massachusetts. Farmer breweries with operations outside of Massachusetts should consider these restrictions to determine if they are eligible to apply for a pub brewery license.

3) No changes to federal approval. Farmer breweries seeking to become pub breweries do not need to amend their existing federal notice.

2) License fees. Farmer breweries and pub breweries pay an annual fee based on barrelage. Pub breweries pay $1,000-$3,000 per year while farmer breweries pay $22-$110 per year.

1) ABCC can help. The Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission will allow a farmer brewery to maintain its existing licenses while it applies for its new licenses, so that there is no down time in operations. Cheers to that!

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF