The brewery taproom is a beautiful place. With the rise of craft beer in America, taprooms have been popping up all across the country. Just like the beers they serve, taprooms come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors. Every taproom tells its own unique story and puts out its own vibes that help craft the drinking experience.
So what makes a great taproom experience?
I think that varies from person to person, but for me all great taprooms consist of a few things:
- Limited taps (8-12)
- Ample seating
- Great music
- No TVs
- Limited food
- Welcoming environment
The first thing I notice when walking into a taproom is the beer list. I hate to be overwhelmed with options - keep it simple. When I think to my favorite taprooms and bars, they all have one thing in common: a limited tap list. It's great to see some familiar faces along with a few rotating specialties. This also keep the bar moving at an orderly pace.
Now you've got your beer, and you need a place to hang. Breweries need to optimize their taprooms for seating. Nobody likes to be standing with nowhere to set their beer. Have great, communal seating. Beer naturally brings people together. I feel the most comfortable sitting next to strangers in a taproom. Don't sacrifice seating for design aesthetic (ahem, Grimm).
Next, we move into the entertainment realm. Play killer music. Beer and music go hand in hand. Fill the air with some tunes that sets the right mood for your taproom. You don't want people signing karaoke, but you also don't want people having not heard of any song you're playing. Live music is always fun as well - bring in a local artist on certain nights to bring the community together. Lastly, please don't have a TV. It's a taproom, not a sports bar. If you're looking for other forms of entertainment, pick up some board games.
Then we get to food. I've never been a big fan of full menus. Have some snacks to help soak up the booze, but keep it simple: popcorn, nuts, pretzels. If you'd like, bring in a local food truck to supply some food to guests or allow guests to order in. This also help maintain a consistent flow in the taproom.
Finally, welcome everybody (dogs included). As I've mentioned here before, beer brings people together. Taprooms consist of all walks of life, so let people come in and share a slice of life over a nice, cold pint. I don't mind kids in the taproom either - the biergarten has been family-friendly for decades. When it boils down to it, be respectful of the people around you, and don't be a douchebag.
The taproom is a great place to come to enjoy the world's greatest drink straight from the source, as the brewer intended. So, what do you like to see in a taproom?
Here are my top 5 favorite taprooms (in no particular order):
- Interboro Spirits & Ales (Brooklyn, NY)
- Monday Night Brewing (Atlanta, GA)
- Wren House Brewing (Phoenix, AZ)
- Hops & Grain (Austin, TX)
- Great Raft Brewing (Shreveport, LA)
What I'm drinking: Floating Weightless | Finback Brewery (Queens, NY) & Other Half Brewing Co. (Brooklyn, NY) | Brett Ale | 6.5% ABV