What's on Tap

What's on Tap

Taprooms crucial to small breweries

Posted November 10, 2015

A look at the beer at Trophy Brewing Company in Raleigh.

— A brewery taproom is the most important path to success for small brewers across the country. Ten years ago, taprooms at breweries did not really exist as we know them today. In fact, there were four times as many brewpubs -– restaurants with a brewery – as there were standalone breweries. Today ,we have more production breweries – 2,006 of 3,464 in 2014 – while the the number of brewpubs only grew very little to 1,412. Why?

The short answer is because people are coming to a brewery taproom regardless of how well furnished it is or whether food is served. This simple fact makes all the difference and seems to be a direct result of a change in our culture – enjoying a good beer where it was made has become more socially acceptable.

Both brewpubs and taprooms are the home of the brand where you get to know who makes the beer and what it tastes like. More importantly, the economics of direct pint sales are crucial to the financial well-being of any brewery. Selling your beer to others to sell it is not very rewarding on a small scale.

In the last five to eight years, this has led to the fast growing number of small breweries because one no longer needs to open a restaurant to get people in the door to drink. For some time to come, this will continue and taproom breweries will open their doors. Brewers can just be brewers and replace the local bar with an offering of fresh brews. So keep drinking at the source!

Sebastian Wolfrum is the executive brewmaster at Bull Durham Beer Company.

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  • Paul Donovan Nov 10, 2015
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    I can see the logic being used by the author but the reality is that the breweries 10 years ago did have taprooms. However, the breweries that existed, for the most part, were the likes of Budweiser and Miller which both had taprooms at their breweries. Now, the proliferation of small craft breweries has led to an explosion of taprooms across the country. Of course, most of these new small breweries are not in a position financially to immediately become brewpubs where food is served nor do they need to be anymore with the accessibility of food trucks. However, as time passes you will see the more successful breweries also invest in their own food preparation facilities to become even more profitable.