Tag Archives: Parallel 49

Tasting Room Feedback Please

We are in the middle of planning the exact layout and functionality of our tasting room for the brewery.  There are a lot of variables that go into the fit and finish of the space, not the least of which is the experience of all our supporters/patrons.  A close second would be the amount of money we have left over at the end of this process to finish the space.  As such, and likely because you have more experience than anyone visiting tasting rooms in Vancouver and beyond, we want your feedback and help so that we build a functional, interesting and immersive space the first time around.

So given this, please pass along your feedback.  You can send it directly to me at startingacraftbrewery@gmail.com or you can post a comment below.  I want to know everything!  The good, the bad and the ugly on anything and everything.  If you need some help with what we are looking for, here are some items we are looking to get feedback around (don’t feel limited by my list, you can push any information you think is relevant our way):

  • How much separation between tasting room and brewery: Brick wall, no wall, or glass window, etc.
  • What kind of seating do you want:  Bench, smaller tables, long communal tables, bar seating, lots of standing room areas, etc
  • Do you want TV’s?
  • What do you want to see on the walls?  Artwork, Descriptions of the brewery equipment?
  • What works and doesn’t work in a growler fill area?
  • Would separate bars for Growler and Tasting Room sales be a good thing?
  • What are best practices for growler fill areas?
  • What is the average price of growler fills and pints in the tasting room out there?
  • What kind of food would you want to see on a menu given there would be a very limited kitchen?
  • Would you want pre-filled growlers so you could just switch your empty out for a new one, making your stay very quick?
  • What would your expectations be around brewery tours?
  • Do you care about the details/finishing of the space?  Concrete floors OK, if we are broke are picnic tables OK, etc?  In other words does a tasting finished like P49 matter versus one finished like 33 Acres?
  • Anything else come to mind?  I want to hear it.

So that is it.  In the future, we are likely going to hold another focus group on a bunch of stuff around our space, and what we learn from your feedback now will help set the stage for that.  Thanks for our help and feedback, it means more to me than you can imagine.

How Many Breweries are Enough in BC, Canada and North America

I often wonder how many breweries can a City, Province, Country and Continent support?  As an entrepreneur and soon to be brewery owner, the concern is always in your head that the market reached a saturation point with businesses.  Eventually, craft beer market share will stop coming from Molson, Labatt and other International giants.  It will indeed come from other like minded craft breweries, which means I can taketh and I can giveth.

In the United States, the Brewers Association indicates that there 2,538 breweries operating in the country as of June 2013.  It also states that there are an additional 1,600 in the planning stages.  If you take a 90% survival rate, that would make about 4,000 total breweries operating in the USA.  That is a lot of beer, and one would have to think, reaching the point of saturation.  In fact, you can read this article posted in the USA Today, which looks at this very question.

In Canada, best estimates put the number of breweries at about 300, and within 5 years, that number is expected to reach 400.  Where is the tipping point?  Well no one knows for sure, but not unlike our counterparts south of the 49th parallel, with every new brewery, we take another step towards saturation.

All of this plays in your mind when you open a brewery.  It fundamentally matters what you stand for, the type of beer you make, and how you put all these moving parts together to form your brand.  It would be my opinion that as the market gets more and more crowded, new breweries need to carve out a more focused niche.  It used to be that making a craft beer was enough of a differentiator, but with more breweries doing more unique beers, being uncommon becomes a good play.

It feels like this is the path that we are going down with our brewery.  It just seems to make the most sense to me, and when something makes sense, I usually jump in with both feet.  When I look at the breweries that have opened and experienced success, they all stand for something.

Parallel 49 – Always something different and unique, but merged with hitting the middle of the market

33 Acres – Clean, refined and connected to Vancouver

Red Racer – quality craft beer in a can that appeals to the middle of the market

Four Winds – New world innovation influenced by old world tradition

Do you think Vancouver could support a brewery that focused on beer from one area of the world?  What about a brewery that focused on Low Alcohol beers or Gluten Free Beers?  Or do you think a brewery that focused exclusively on Sour beers, or different types of Saison would do well?  What about doing what Steam Whistle does, and only make one beer?  What about a brewery that only sourced local ingredients?

These are some of the options that are coming into play with new breweries, and ones that we have kicked around.  At the end of the day, I am going to brew beers that I believe in, and hopefully others like them as well.  There really is no other way to go, and to be honest, doing otherwise would be somewhat disingenuous.  As for the number of breweries, this is not something I can worry about.  It would be counterproductive for me to focus on what others are doing, at the expense of conveying what we are doing.

Back to my Excel spreadsheet I go.  It seems that I am spending far too much time making the numbers work.  My topic for next time will be the tasting room and what are some of the decisions and qualities that are important in designing one.  For now, I will leave this parting thought.  I hope that we are a ways from saturation, for it will make the task before me that much more attainable.