Breweries have a special set of challenges outside of your average restaurant industry business. From getting the proper equipment to completing the necessary permits and licensing to preparing for taxes as an alcohol supplier, simply getting a brewery up and running can be an intense process. However, it’s important not to forget about a core element to starting any business where you serve customers on premise – your brewery design.
Define your criteria.
Define your overall vision of the building and its layout. Talk it over with your financial partners, with your brewers, and with anyone else involved in the business who has insight into how the brewery should look or function. Be thorough about what you want and need from your brewery design.
From there, you can split your combined brewery marketing ideas into Must Haves, Really Wants, and Would Likes.
- “Must Haves” are non-negotiables, like sound-proofing and high enough ceilings for the equipment.
- “Really Wants” are items not absolutely essential to getting the brewery up and running, but that your team feels strongly should be part of your brewery design and brand.
- “Would Likes” are elements that can still be on the table, but aren’t as important as your “Really Wants.”
Creating this hierarchy can help your team organize and prioritize when it comes to sticking within your budget.
Look at other brewery design.
Go check out your competitors in the area, especially breweries that you’ve admired as a consumer. What do you like about the design of their building and layout? What would you change if it was your business?
Do you see any patterns among your competitors in how their buildings are structured or the ambiance in their taprooms? When doing this research, do your best to specifically visit breweries around the size of your own. Things much bigger breweries are doing might not apply to your own.
Also consider your product focus and how you intend to distribute your product. If you want to focus on canning, a competitor that strictly bottles their product might have a brewery design that wouldn’t work as well for your business. The interior design in a brewery emphasizing darker beers might not work for your brewery focusing on lighter and fruit-based beers.
Do you have friends within the brewery community? Getting advice straight from other owners can be essential. And don’t just ask specific questions you’re thinking of — ask what they now wish they’d done or known during the brewery design stage. If you don’t have one already, it could be time to find a mentor in the business to offer guidance as well.
Don’t cut customers completely off from manufacturing.
Taprooms are an important part of any brewery, especially those promoting unique craft beers. You certainly will want your beers to be sold for retail, but there’s big money to be made in offering your beers (and food to accompany it) at your own location. And part of the reason people patronize breweries is for the experience of being at the place the beer is crafted and being able to taste different brews from the source.
So while there should still be a distinction between what is the public bar/dining area and the beer-making area, it’s worthwhile to design your front-of-house so it can look into your manufacturing spaces. Let the people see how your beer is made, including those beautiful metal kettles. But beermaking get can loud, so make sure you soundproof properly for the sake of your taproom guests.
Define your front-of-house style.
Whether you’re decorating it yourself or are hiring a commercial interior designer, you should be able to describe the focus of your brand. Are you going for rustic and country? Modern and sleek? A little dark and mysterious, like Barley Mow in Largo, Florida? Many breweries lean into the industrial tone of being a beermaker. Ultimately, your interior brewery design should be in line with the ambiance and overall dining experience you want to build (and in line with the beer you’re selling).
But be warned that describing interior design in words alone can lead to miscommunication. For instance, “vintage” can mean many things to different people. Just telling your designer to “make it vintage” puts them in a tough spot of guessing what you mean, and could lead to you having decor you didn’t think you were asking for.
Don’t be afraid to come in with reference photos of the style you’d like to see in your brewery design. Having visual examples can help narrow down the look you want to emulate in the building.
Design it for function.
While the look of your brewery (both front-of-house and back) is important, always keep a focus on function. Having your beer production areas be shaped in a U will help keep the beer-making process stay efficient. But also make sure your taproom’s seating is easy for your staff to move around. Make sure as well that your seating is comfortable for customers. The flooring for both front of house and back should be easily cleaned in case of beer spillage (especially important since you’ll want to avoid anyone slipping on wet floors) and have some cushion so it’s easy to walk and stand on for long periods of time.
Lighting, restrooms, and any outdoor serving area should also be design for functionality as well as aesthetic. And make sure your brewing area has at least one loading dock, so it’s easy to haul in supplies and haul out product.
Design it for growth.
Because of the challenges of setting up a brewery, you don’t want to have to move unless absolutely necessarily. That means building your brewery to anticipate eventual growth. Have at least a few of your facility’s outer walls be non-structural. That way, if or when you decide to expand, your brewery design will be ready for the changes.
Looking for more tips on renovation once you have your restaurant up and running? Download our free eBook “Restaurant Renovation: Getting Your Front of House in Order” today!