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I’ve spent countless hours in breweries across the United States and the world, and during that time I’ve discovered there are a few things every brewery should do or have. They may seem minor to some, but the devil is in the details, and these basic features never fail to make my experience significantly more enjoyable.
Remember, this is just my opinion, but if you disagree with me you’re completely wrong.
A well-designed chalkboard is a beautiful thing. Some breweries spend hours on these, and I'd consider a few I've seen works of art. Apart from the aesthetic enjoyment, when the right information is made available, it makes ordering beer much more efficient (and I tend to spend more). Here are the most important things to delineate on your chalkboard, apart from the basic beer information, of course:
I get it - offering flights is a huge pain in the ass. People take forever to select what they want, they take a long time to pour, and you need to go through a ton of glassware. If you don't want to offer flights that's 100% fine by me, but put it on the board so I don't feel like an idiot when I go up and ask.
If you do offer flights, make sure to share the specifics:
The clearer your flight protocol, the less painful ti is for everyone involved.
If I'm visiting a brewery for the first time, I usually want to try a mix between the staple beers and things I may not be able to get outside of the brewery. It's nice knowing if the beer listed is something I can grab at a local bottle shop or get on tap at a nearby restaurant versus needing to get it at the source.
This one is one I've grown to appreciate more over time. If I'm popping into a local brewery or bar, I usually know this information in already. However, for those who aren't regulars, it's nice information to have if you want to try a few different beers before heading out.
This goes for bottles, cans, growlers, and crowlers. I get it, some of your seasonal are not available for to-go growlers or crowlers, and that's fine, just let me know up-front if that's the case. If it is available, I may hold off on getting a pint and instead get some to go.
With the increased prevalence of crowlers, it's not unlikely for me to try a few samples and then pick 2-3 beers I want to bring back to share with friends or family. The same goes for bottles or cans.
It’s not that you need to have free WiFi, I’m cool if you don’t, but if you do provide it, please make the network and password easily available. The last thing I want to do is make a bartender or employee answer a question they’ve probably answered 1,000 times that day already.
Ideally, put it on the chalk board. If not, small signs on the bar or tables will also do the trick.
I still can't believe this isn't standard practice at every brewery. You want your patrons to be hydrated, and the last thing you want to do is have your bartenders spending time pouring people water. Water jugs strategically places around the taproom or outside will save everyone a lot of time, and will make my hangover just a little more bearable.
This one is admittedly a bit less-common, but thankfully I've seen more and more breweries starting to do this. It really is a life saver when the tap room is jam packed and there's standing room only. Being able to plop my drink down on a ledge goes a long way when I've been standing around for hours.
The same goes for drinking outside on patios. I've been in some packed areas and found that lining ledges around the perimeter a great way to make standing room a bit more enjoyable.
I understand that this one might be cost prohibitive or difficult to implement, but please if you're in the design stages of a taproom, please consider it.
No one wants to bring their drink into the bathroom, but sometimes, especially when I'm traveling solo, I'd rather do that versus leaving my drink unattended. This problem is even more top-of-mind for my female friends.
When I do need to bring my beer with me, it's much easier when I can plop my glass on an actual shelf as opposed to balancing it precariously on the uneven porcelain top of a urinal, or God forbid, put it on the ground.
I don't spend all that much time in women's restrooms, but I'll venture to guess they'd also like these in the stalls if possible, but I can't really confirm that.
After spending more time in cooler climates, I realized how annoying it can be to not really have anywhere to put your jacket. It's not that I'm lazy, but do I really want to put it on the floor? Or worse, take up space and put it somewhere where someone can be sitting? This falls into the "another small detail that can go a long way" category, especially if you're traveling or living in a place where you're lugging around a bag or purse.
So there you have it. The definitive-but-probably-incomplete list of things every brewery tap room should have.
Was there something I missed? Let me know! If it’s good enough, I may even add it to this list. Cheers!