Owning a brewpub/microbrewery/tap room can be incredibly fulfilling and rewarding. However, starting any business is not easy, and statistics show that four out of ten business startups fail within five years. While the market for new brewpubs is thriving, success is never guaranteed.
So, what are the keys to success?
Brew great beer.
This may seem obvious, but it needs to be emphasized. Maintaining passion for brewing (or finding a passionate brewer), implementing good methods and record-keeping, using fresh ingredients, and upholding proper sanitation are all essential for brewing exceptional beer. It’s important to be open to customer preferences and adapt accordingly. If peanut butter stout is what attracts customers (even if you personally find it odd), be willing to give it a try. A pilot system can be used to experiment with new recipes and gather feedback. Offering $1 pints for the first twenty pours of a new recipe can be a great way to attract customers and receive valuable feedback (if they order a second pint, you’ll know they enjoyed it!).
Find a good location.
If you’re the first brewery in your area, great beer alone might be enough. However, if there are competitors or if more breweries emerge, having a conveniently accessible location becomes crucial. A location near other attractions such as arts, entertainment, and restaurants can attract more people and generate significant foot traffic.
Create a remarkable atmosphere.
Similar to point 2, extraordinary beer alone might suffice if you’re the only craft brewery in your area. However, customers seek a “remarkable” experience that prompts them to rave about your establishment to others. The atmosphere you create plays a central role in delivering this remarkable experience, and the decor is often a key element. Make your space unique and captivating. If you’re not particularly skilled in creating a unique atmosphere, seek assistance from someone with a strong aesthetic sense and creative imagination. There are countless ways to make a space interesting; a boring environment with fluorescent lights, white walls, and nondescript furniture will likely fail to captivate most people. In fact, even if your beer is fantastic, customers may be reluctant to visit if the ambiance is depressing.
In addition to these three criteria, there are a few more things to consider.
Have a clear vision.
Clearly define the type of brewery you want and formulate a plan to achieve it. You need to find a niche that fits within the local community. Apart from beer styles, the overall setting, atmosphere, and the food you offer are crucial elements for success.
Choose a location that matches your atmosphere.
The chosen location must align with your vision. If you aim for a community-focused brewery, it should be situated within the community and easily accessible to the locals. Placing a community brewery in an industrial area with no foot traffic, even if it’s just a 10-minute drive away, would not be beneficial. An industrial area might be better suited for a destination brewery or one focused on distribution.
Surround yourself with the right people and engage with your community.
Craft beer drinkers have many options, so it’s crucial to ensure that your servers are knowledgeable about your product. Craft beer enthusiasts are increasingly interested in the brewing process and specific ingredients used. Interacting with every customer who walks through the door, even if it’s just giving them a sticker and thanking them for coming in, can make a difference. Surround yourself with the right people, including customers. You can’t run a successful brewery, or any business, without the support of loyal customers. Additionally, hiring individuals who will promote your brand and trust that they will uphold your standards is essential. Collaboration with other breweries can also be beneficial, allowing for shared equipment, ingredients, knowledge, and more.
Be passionate and work hard.
Understand that starting your brewery will require more effort than you anticipate. It will demand far more work, time, and finances than you initially expect. However, once you open the doors and welcome people into your brewery, it will also be more enjoyable and rewarding than you could have imagined.