What Makes A Great Brewery Experience?

There are a lot of good breweries, but what makes one great?

This article was tagged with: Beer

There are 1069 words in this article, and it will probably take you less than 6 minutes to read it.

This article was published 2023-11-28 00:00:00 -0500, which makes this post and me old when I published it.

I am no means an expert on breweries/the brewery experience, but I have been in enough breweries to have strong opinions about them. Take all of my thoughts with a grain of salt, but I don’t think any of my takes are too spicy.

Don’t make ordering beer a guessing game.

  • I want to have some expectations of what my beer is gonna be like when I order them and not have it be a surprise.
  • I don’t mind a big menu on the wall (they’re always a lot of fun) but please have a paper menu with descriptions; both for people who have issues with sight but also so you can display more information.
  • Descriptions should help people know what they’re buying because if we assume that people know what they like then we should want to give them information to allow them to buy the things that they like.
    • Please put hops no one is gonna steal your recipes, or at the very least put standardized tasting notes so a more concerned drinker could guess what hops so that they know what they want to order.

Have multiple pour options.

  • It encourages people to try more of your beer and waste less of it if they don’t like it.
  • 4, 6, 12, 16 ounces are good numbers to choose from.
    • If you’re only doing >12 oz pours I really don’t like that. If you’re only doing 6 and 12oz pours you’re on thin ice.
  • Have beer tags so that people know what beer they’re drinking.
    • Lost Generation Brewing in Washington D.C. with paper tags that they attach to glasses and I think that it is genius.
    • If I get a bunch of small pours of beers that all look alike the server can tell me all the names of the beers, but I will forget almost immediately. It’s important for the customer to know what they’re drinking so that they can understand what they like and also if they want to buy more.
  • Flights offer a more fun experience and can offer a curated experience.
    • Flight cards are a great way to take orders and also give back to the customer so that they know what the beer is.

Have electronic or some kind of self-service ordering experience.

  • I am not the biggest fan of Toast, but I think that ordering online is infinitely better than trying to flag a bartender down to order.
  • It also allows people to order on their own time; especially helps when they want to order multiple things at once. No one likes having to read from a list of four beers to tell the server what they want to get.

Offer diverse beverage options.

  • Balance your menu with different styles.
    • I am a person who loves hazy IPAs so I don’t really experience this problem, but I also don’t want a whole menu of hazy IPAs. I want to experience various sub-types of IPAs as well as enjoy other styles.
    • If you don’t have the expertise in those styles, have guest taps from breweries who make it better than you do.
  • Offer cocktails or beer cocktails as a way to serve other audiences.
  • Offer NA beer or mocktails for people who are underage or are low-no alcohol.

Serve food.

  • You want people to drink and not get drunk, so food definitely helps that.
  • If a kitchen or food license is a hassle/expense, allow people to bring their own food and advertise that.
    • You could partner with other restaurants to do promotions.
  • Don’t half ass the food though, either do it right or don’t do it at all.
    • I never buy bagged snacks if a brewery is selling them, its just not what I want, but I’m sure some people like it.
    • I am a bit skeptical about beer in food/beer pairings, but you could definitely have suggestions to heighten the experience.

Focus on the customer ordering/trying experience.

  • Knowledgeable staff who are nonjudgmental and can help be a sommelier of sorts definitely helps.
    • Staff should at the very least be able to point people in the right direction of beers on tap depending on the style/preferences of the customer.
  • I’ve had someone strike a beer off my receipt because they saw that I didn’t like. While this is a very nice gesture, I don’t personally think that’s a sustainable business practice. I think maybe offering a free small pour if you don’t like it would be fine for me.

Maintain an up-to-date tap list on your website/Untappd.

  • I want to be able to see what you have on tap so that I know whether or not I want to visit.
  • As a brewery you should want to have an Untappd presence because that is free marketing to people who really care about beer.

Lean into the fun/unseriousness of craft brewing.

  • Can art, naming, descriptions are all a part of a good brand.
    • It especially helps on Untappd because there is nothing sadder than a beer that has no image or description and only a few check-ins
  • The way your brewery looks and feels is an extension of your brand too.

Make it feel like a place that people would want to come and hang out at.

  • We don’t need another warehouse industrial or all wood brewery aesthetic, make it feel comfy.
  • Don’t play music too loud, people come to breweries to hang out with people and be able to talk.
  • I think that you should have a combination of a bar and a variety of other table/seating size arrangements.
    • Some people come in with a large group, while some come with a smaller group, and the bar can always accommodate people who may fly solo.
    • A combination of indoor and outdoor seating is obviously the dream if you can manage it.
  • Host events: Brewery tours, trivia nights, paint and sips; the ideas are endless as long as you can get different demographics in the door to try your product and become fans.
    • Collaborate with other organizations doing cool stuff already!

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