What Makes A Shitty Taproom

Your favorite watering hole has everything you could possibly want. Local beers on tap, gut busting bar food, and god-awful live music on the weekends. Hell, there are even board games with pieces missing on a shelf next to the bathrooms. So, if you can have all of your favorite local beers and more in the place where everybody knows your name, why bother to visit a taproom that only serves their small slice of the local scene?

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More often than not, breweries have a tap room connected to their production facility. With new breweries opening everyday, consumers have plenty of options. Supporting local business is all well and good, but why should I want to come to your taproom? Here’s a secret breweries, so pay attention, if another brewery has a better tap room than you, I’ll be visiting them and not you. Doesn’t matter if you make a superior product.

I can think of only a handful of genuinely awesome taprooms that I’ve visited. I’ve been to others which were super crappy fun time. I know good and well that for most breweries, a tap room is only a very small part of their business and revenue. Is that any reason to half ass it though? Just to be clear, not being an offender of the items on this list doesn’t automatically make you a great tap room, but it’s a damn good start.

You don’t know what you’re about

Are you a taproom, yoga studio, live music venue, dog park, or a trivia meetup group? Too much going on can make a tap room seem chaotic and unorganized. There’s a lot to be said for doing one thing and doing it well. That’s not to say that you can’t offer more than booze and a quiet place to contemplate why you can’t find a job with your Liberal Arts degree, but it shouldn’t compete with it. Just in case you’re confused on what the main focus should be, it’s the beer…duh. A brewery taproom is direct from the source and should be the best available. By all means, have as many extras as you want, just make sure they enhance and don’t distract. Have great bar food, but with a limited menu. Offer something besides beer to drink, but keep it simple. To many other options makes you less a brewery taproom and more of a hangout place that happens to serve beer.

You don’t have enough bartenders

Trying to save a few bucks are we? There’s nothing I love more than standing in a long line while I can overhear the guy at the front the line contemplating the subtle differences between Mosaic and Warrior hops. Or better yet, wanting to sample every single beer before making the investment of a pint. Meanwhile, the poor lone bartender is watching the line grow while Mr. Beer consults Untappd to see how many more IPAs he needs to unlock a new achievement. There’s nothing the bartender can do about it either. The customer is always right and deserves his full attention. Meanwhile, other beer enthusiasts are growing more and thirsty by the second and contemplating heading to the gas station for a sixer of the competitors beer that sprung for a canning line. So don’t be cheap and make sure you’re properly staffed.

Can I get some service please

The space isn’t planned out

How are people approaching the bar? Lines shouldn’t weave between tables or groups of standing patrons. There also shouldn’t be chair’s blocking the entire ordering area so that people have to lean in sideways to order a beer. Don’t mind me bud, watch the elbow as I lift these beers over your dream journal. Hey, can I use the back of your head to sign my ticket? Clearly marked out paths with multiple wells is by far the best. I fully understand that some smaller breweries are working within the bounds of the space they can afford. However, it doesn’t take a degree in architecture to take a minute and plan out a space and how people will likely try to get around it.

Your menu is confusing

One board. Front and center. CLEARLY LEGIBLE. If people get to the front and ask what you have on tap, you need to try again. Big and bold is the way to go here. Your wood burned custom tap handles with calligraphy font are just delightful. I can’t read them sideways from 10 feet away. Just to be extra clear. The board should read as follows: Name, style, description, ABV, and IBUs. Really, how are you messing this up?

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There are definitely a lot more reasons why your brewery tap room sucks. These are the main offenders though. Correct these and you’re well on your way to being…well, less shitty. Your beer still sucks though, and there’s probably not much you can do about that.

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