Durham, N.C. — 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.