One of the most enjoyable and interesting activities that a beer lover can do is to go right to the source of their favorite drinks: the brewery.
The buildings where the golden pint is brewed, with all its ingredients being carefully combined, offer a fascinating view into the history of the final liquid.
Many breweries offer tours, allowing the public to see all the machinery and processes that are used. But what good is it if you can’t then try some at the end?
That’s why many breweries have their own taprooms. These are rooms where they serve their own beer, letting customers enjoy a drink on the very grounds where it was made.
Hang on, isn’t a room that serves beer just a bar, though? Well, not quite, because a taproom is different in some very important ways.
Read on to find out all about taprooms and the very elements that make them such a desirable place for beer lovers to visit.
What Is A Taproom?
A taproom is a room where a beer brewery serves its own delicious product to customers.
This is traditionally built into the brewery, a side space away from the machines where a drink can be poured and enjoyed. However, sometimes the room can be attached to the side of the brewery building.
The taproom has many of the best parts of a bar or pub, as well, the main one of these shared elements is in the name – a bar!
This counter offers a place for customers to sit and drink while being able to get a refill immediately from behind the bar.
The taproom bartender works there, surrounded by taps offering a variety of the home-brewed beers from the brewery, as well as perhaps a few bottles too.
Seats and tables fill the rest of the taproom, allowing patrons to drink wherever they want. They may choose these to be closer to the other available activities.
These may include televisions attached to the walls, just like a pub.
Games are also often present, which bring an emphasis on community – you can play a competitive game of darts, or shoot pool with a friend.
Food is also a staple, usually included by the breweries to encourage customers to remain on-site.
Like the games and entertainment, it’s all about keeping customers happy and present! Food can range from breakfast to lunch menus, and is usually served from a set time to a scheduled end.
The food can be pub staples, like grilled cheese sandwiches or wraps, with a side of chips.
Many menus also offer a list of “perfect pairings”, suggesting which of their beers would go with their food.
Most taprooms will also offer a children’s menu, with food like sausages and burgers, and ice cream for dessert.
You may be surprised by the presence of children in a taproom, but this is something we’ll go on to discuss later!
To add to the sense of togetherness, taprooms will also throw events to unite its customers and get them coming back again and again.
We’ve all heard of a pub quiz, and a taproom might also do a trivia night, bringing groups of friends in for a drink and a challenge.
They may also have board game competitions or big themed costume parties. Parties have music – which is another type of event! Live music acts and small gigs often happen at taprooms.
Sometimes, a brewery might even join forces with another local brewer and arrange to swap taps, offering each other’s beer! Which builds a connection with other businesses, as well as extending the reach of the drink and brand.
Types Of Taproom
It’s interesting to note that some taprooms exist in places where there isn’t even a brewery.
This is much cheaper than creating a whole new factory, with all its machinery costs, but still helps to promote the beer name and acts as a direct money-maker for the company.
Imagine if you went to a pub, but it was called Stella Artois and only sold, you guessed it, Stella Artois? It would be quite unique, and certainly help to promote the brand!
That’s what these brewery-less taprooms can be like.
And it works exactly the opposite way, too. If a taproom does have a brewery attached, it’s got many benefits for the brewing company.
It promotes their beer brand and attracts customers to the source, but also has another great financial benefit: no shipping costs!
If a brewery can sell their beer without having to both transport it and let another pub take the proceeds, it saves the brewery a lot of money.
A Taproom Is Not A Bar – Here’s Why
A bar is a place where people can go and get a drink. A taproom is also a place where people can do that. And yet, there’s a big difference between the two.
Taprooms are a place where beer is celebrated. They fill themselves with fun activities and food, and throw events.
While bars may occasionally do that, they mainly operate as a spot somebody can go to in the evening and just drink.
A bar is a place that somebody goes to to unwind after work. A taproom simply isn’t that – people will go to a taproom during the day, for fun. Customers come to them as an activity itself, seeing the brewery and getting lost in the community.
It’s not somewhere to retreat to, it’s somewhere to wholeheartedly choose.
Part of this is the age-range, too. If you saw a child in a bar, it wouldn’t seem right.
A bar doesn’t seem like the kind of place where somebody under the legal drinking age should be, because it’s a place that is mainly made for drinking.
With the people-focused attitude of taprooms, it wouldn’t be weird to see a child there.
A family may even throw a birthday party for their child, and the brewery would happily accept, having a celebration and perhaps bringing the child a special meal!
A taproom is a place for all people, whether they’re a student or a pensioner, and everything in between.
I’ll put it this way: some taprooms even host charity events as one of their many activities.
Could you picture that happening at a bar? Bars have their benefits, don’t get me wrong at all, but they’re not always a place that is built towards community. The taproom is.
Building The Best Taproom
We’ve discussed a lot of the great parts that make up a brewery’s taproom, the things that make it such a personable place that encourages families and friends to visit together.
But what would we include if we had to build our perfect taproom? Well, it’s a long and interesting list…read on to find out!
When I’ve gone to busy bars, I often struggle. I can find difficulty in finding a spare seat in a nice area, but also sometimes have problems ordering.
I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve lined up by the bar, and somebody has walked in after me and stood further down the counter – and got served before me! This is why layout matters.
In a taproom, everything should be clear. There should be lots of seats and tables, and they should be a mixture of private and public.
Some people will want to take their drink away from the crowd, still enjoying the community feel but not being so wrapped up in it.
Others, though, will want to be right up in the action, with their table right up close to the tables of others.
The bar area should be as well designed. It should be a center-piece, clear and big.
When you go up to it, it should be apparent where you’re supposed to stand and order from – or where you’re supposed to line up if there’s a big demand.
There shouldn’t be any place for queue cutting! It’s a community, there shouldn’t be any arguments.
An outside area would be a bonus, too. Many bars have outdoor sections, allowing people to get some fresh air – which may be needed if they’ve had too much to drink!
It allows a place for people to take a break in, or enjoy the sights and smells of the outdoor air.
And if it’s sunny? Who wants to be stuck inside! Sharing a drink outdoors in the summer heat can really be enjoyable.
In terms of games and activities (which we’re about to cover!), be careful about where these are placed too.
If somebody wants to sit at their table and enjoy their drink in peace, the taproom wants to make sure that they’re not next to a game of pool.
The last thing you want when you’re enjoying your beer is to have some people repeatedly bumping into you as they walk up and down by the pool table.
And watch where those pool cues are going! The loud noise of the balls clacking into each other would be distracting, as well.
A great way to bring people together in the taproom is to offer a wide variety of games for them to play, whether it’s with or against each other.
Perhaps a group wants to play a trivia quiz with each other, something like Trivial Pursuit, and see who can remember the most when drunk?
Or maybe they want something smaller, like a game of Connect Four, or a game of cards.
There are so many fun board games that are cheap for the brewery to buy, but will keep customers coming back for the sense of community that they bring.
The only thing I wouldn’t recommend, maybe, is a game of Twister…something that involves so much body coordination may not be the best fit for a place serving alcohol!
Perhaps keep one just for the young children to play.
Of course, the games don’t have to be just board games – they can be video games too.
If the taproom already has television screens for showing sports games and so on, the brewery could buy a games console and a few party games so that customers can share some digital fun.
Something like a Nintendo Switch would be good, with its motion controls and family-friendly party games.
Having a soundtrack to your drinking can be a very enjoyable part of going out for a beer.
Taprooms can do this in a few ways. If they have a speaker system, they can play radio or music playlists from it, and easily adjust the volume if it is ever too intrusive and loud for the customers.
On the other hand, the brewery can organize live musical performances. Does the area have a local, up-and-coming band or singer?
Hire them! This will not only offer a cheap and practical event, but also make the taproom’s connection with the local community even stronger.
If they’re promoting local talent, they’ll be seen as a proper brand you can rely on and not some big corporation that doesn’t know its fans.
Additionally, if the taproom has television screens then they can put on a music TV channel. This means that they don’t even have to select the music!
And it’ll give the customers something to watch and enjoy with the music, too.
I know I’ve spent a lot of time in bars enjoying watching music videos! Their creative visuals often pair really well with a refreshing drink, it makes them leap out of the screen almost.
On top of live music performances, a taproom can organize lots of community events. These can range from presentations to charity drives.
The brewery may even want to book a comedian – there’s nothing like laughing your head off while also enjoying a beer!
The brewery may want to keep the events family friendly, though. If you want to have a range of content, however, perhaps the taproom should have operating times for certain age groups.
Children should be welcomed, but if it gets too late into the evening, maybe they should have a curfew of sorts?
If they do, you can then have more adult events once they’ve gone – such as a comedian telling adult jokes!
Drinking and eating go hand in hand. If a taproom has food, like a brewpub might, then it will keep the customers there for longer.
It also gives them something to soak up their alcohol with, because there’s nothing worse than drinking on an empty stomach!
If the taproom doesn’t want to put too much money and staff into the food, though, there are lots of simpler meals they can have.
Pre-prepared burgers and pizzas can save a lot of time, frozen and ready to be reheated for customers. At the same time, chips are very easy to just pop in the oven.
Even just a small range of foods will give customers so much more reason to stay, and keep ordering beer.
Why have them leave to go to a diner across the road when they get hungry, when you can just have them stay in your taproom and get everything they need from one source?
That’s what it’s really all about. A taproom wants to build a sense of a neighborhood, bringing strangers and friends together to enjoy a range of activities and drinks.
All ages should be allowed to come in, but the brewery should be vigilant about taking age ID for any young adults trying to get a beer.
If somebody isn’t old enough, a wide range of colas, fruit juices, or smoothies would satisfy them – and allow them to sit happily alongside their parents, who may be enjoying a beer!
And there you have it, a breakdown of all the enjoyable pieces that make a brewery-owned taproom so much more than a bar.
Taprooms are not just places to drink after work, they’re a hub for all times and weather. It’s not a place to drink alone, but a place to be part of a large group. It’s a place to meet new people!
The wide range of games and events encourage all this, giving strangers and friends a shared activity to enjoy and bond over while they sip their beer.
A taproom should embrace all the possibilities, rather than just be a place to buy the branded beer that’s brewed next door.