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Craft breweries benefit from accounting experts

Written on Feb 10, 2022

By Jessica Salerno-Shumaker, OSCPA senior content manager 

Craft brewers might not realize they get what they pay for when it comes to the specialized accounting and tax work they need, one CPA said. 


“It's like comparing Bud Light to craft beer,” said Kayla Emanuelson, manager at SSB CPAs & Strategic Advisors in Canfield. “You pay for what you get, and the quality can be really good if you recognize the difference between the two.” 

Emanuelson said she became interested in craft beer after college and eventually started attending monthly meetings of a women’s beer club with a partner at SSB. She said she eventually realized there was an opportunity in the niche for her firm. 

“Back in 2018, we started making the right moves to see how we could serve the brewery industry in a way that is beneficial,” Emanuelson said. “A lot of times when you have breweries that are just getting started, they know they don't have all the tools or things that they need.” 

To better understand the industry, SSB has been a member of the Ohio Craft Brewers Association since 2013. They’ve been a vendor at the annual conference and even spoke at the 2020 conference shortly before the pandemic began. 

Emanuelson said breweries often start out by having their tax returns done by a friend or family member – someone who might not be able to offer the business the unique expertise needed. 

“Most of our brewery clients don't have as many accounting or attest services that they need,” she said. “So, we are talking with them about tax credits, like the research and development credit, or the tip credit for their employees, if they have tipped employees. We also spent a good bit of time doing some employee retention tax credits for our clients.” 

Because SSB has a sizable number of clients in manufacturing, Emanuelson said they were able to transfer their knowledge of manufacturing and apply it to breweries, which often include a restaurant or tap room. 

As COVID restrictions begin to loosen, Emanuelson said the future is becoming bright for breweries. The pandemic forced them to be more innovative and create processes they might not have considered before. 

“Brewers are always thinking about what's coming next and how they can grow,” she said. “It really depends on what their growth plans are and where they want to go. And I think it can only get better from here.”