With the changes to tied-house and the ability to have a tasting room and retail area within the brewery, there has been a paradigm shift in the way breweries in BC construct their operations. For a long time, many spaces just took a little retail area, cobbled together a small bar and sold their beer. However, led by Main Street Brewing, Brassneck and 33 Acres, there is a new breed of tasting rooms that have fundamentally altered the model we are all following.
We have benefited from starting our brewery at a time when these tasting room areas are now allowed in Vancouver by-laws, and as such, we have focused a lot of resources and energy on building and designing this space. We hope to make it everything we would want in a tasting room. We have learned a few lessons along the way and it seems right to pass them along. I have written posts in the past that relate to the tasting room, but this has the best nuggets of information in one place.
Some random thoughts on designing and building your tasting room:
- Keep the cooler close to the bar, so your beer doesn’t have to travel a long distance to get to the tap. Pretty self explanatory here.
- Balance the area between tasting room and retail area. We have a little retail area on both halves of the tasting room, which means our space seems a little bigger than it is in reality. This might be a good thing some days and a bad thing on others.
- Make sure your retail area and tasting room is a reflection of yourself. Iain and I had a tough time with this, as we see things through pretty different lenses. I am more modern and Iain is more traditional. Our space, like our brand and everything else we do, is a amalgamation of both our opinions and preferences.
- Plan out the flow of people. Nothing worse than having a space that is hard to move around in when you are busy. Think about bathroom locations, and also the layout of the retail area, and how it interacts with the bar.
- Location, separation and number of tap handles for pouring the beer is super important. We have gone with 2 sets, that Iain can tell you all the specifics on. Essentially we had Bamford bar service install the lines and taps, and we followed much of their guidance on this.
- Plan to spend a bunch of money in the tasting room. The best way to save cash in this area is to do a lot of the work yourself and also to keep it simple. We will end saving a lot of money, as we found salvaged wood from a few different places, and used materials from our job site in the construction of different parts of the tasting room.
- Take your time planning the bar. We went through this over and over on how to layout the bar. Go see what others are doing, think about all the things you will need in a bar, and also how your space will function, down the to the last detail. I am talking cash drawer, POS, line-ups, etc. etc.
- Get a metal fabricator for stainless that is CSA approved. We used a metal fabricator that is not, which is fine, except when it comes to putting in your sink, which you will need to find a metal fabricator to do that is CSA approved.
I am sure I could find a lot of other things that may or may not be worthy of putting onto this list, but this seems pretty good for now. I am pretty tired, so need to get some sleep. We are looking at a crew of about 3 guys 8-10 weeks to finish our tasting room. That is a lot of work, time and energy they have expended, which also means it is expensive, so try to get everything right you can the first time.