5 Brewpub Success Tips
new brewpub could use some helpful tips.
1. Be Flexible: Be flexible about your business model. No matter how certain you are that your walk-in restaurant customers will buy enough draft beer across the taps to pay for your equipment and keep you in business, be flexible toward a future need to distribute kegs locally.
example of a pro-active solution is to get serving tanks with extra long legs:
legs long enough to store kegs underneath. Pro-active thinking about future needs
or a change in business model would require you to order an extra-tall walk-in
cooler to accommodate those tall serving tanks. Changes like this are cheap up
front, but very expensive to install later on.
2. Hire Experience: Don't rely on your tank manufacturer to help you lay out your restaurant/brewery space on the blueprints, and don't rely just on a restaurant consultant. A brewpub has different requirements. Hire an experienced pub brewer as a consultant before the blueprints are drawn. A retainer fee can give you nearly unlimited access to his/her experience.
However, hire like-minded experience. For example, if you want to build a 10-barrel brewpub, don't hire a brewer who has worked for years at a 50+ barrel craft brewery or you may pay a lot for over-engineered brewing equipment.
3. Offer A Full Craft Beer Experience: A brewpub should be like Disneyland for beer drinkers and their families. Not only should you offer several different styles of beer, try to incorporate your beer in the menu: Beer-battered onion rings and fish & chips work. Other ideas include using spent-grain in your pizza crust or housemade bread, or using first wort in reductions or barbeque sauce.
But don't forget the non-beer drinkers: Make your own root beer. Root beer can be mixed up easily in a side-bunged keg: 100-150 ml of extract, 15 lb sugar, 1-2 capfuls of foaming agent, sodium benzoate (preservative) optional. Then top keg with hot water, bung it, roll to mix, and carbonate with top pressure for 2-6 days. You'll have to experiment to find a recipe you and your customers will love.
4. Keep Your Brand On Top At Home: You've put your brewpub's name on the sign out front, the door, and the menu cover. Don't forget the silo! And for heaven's sake, don't promote other beer brands inside your brewpub.
That means get other brand's beer bottles off the table. Customers come to your brewpub to get the full craft beer experience. Some in their party may prefer a national-brand lager or a non-alcoholic beer. Great! Give it to them. But pour that bottled beer into a pint glass, and keep the bottle behind the bar. Never let a competitor's label appear on your table!
5. Injury Reduction: Back and knee injuries are the most common brewing job health hazzards. A brewing job that is more demanding physically will wear out your brewer's body parts. Lower your brewer turnover by planning properly up front. That means installing a grain handling system, both into the brewhouse and out of it. A silo, auger, and grist case help minimize lifting on the way in. Automated spent grain handling will reduces lifting on the way out.
Have an experienced brewer examine your blueprints for ways to reduce manual grain-handling. For example, I once consulted on a brewpub with a second-floor brewery. One of the recommendations I made was a winch to drop the spent grain buckets down to street level. Without that, the brewer would have had to bump-bump full 32-55 gallon buckets of spent grain down the steps and through the restaurant to get it outside.
If you need a keg washer, find one that minimizes the number of times each keg is lifted. Most importantly, make sure your brewer is well-trained. If your brewer is inexperienced in the industrial setting of a brewpub or distributing brewery (such as a brewer with only homebrewing or book-learning experience), hire a brewer/ consultant to come in and train him or her.
Best wishes for success!