Welcome to the taproom

Published on 4th November 2019

Unless you have reached the stage where your microbrewery is supplying retailers, and even supermarkets, up and down the country (by which time it’s probably not right to call your business a microbrewery at all) you most likely have a close relationship with the people who drink what you brew.

After all, it’s their taste and thirst that makes your business a success and getting feedback from them can be vital to your growth.

“Bit too hoppy, that last batch.” 

“When are you going to do a fruit infusion again?” 

And, of course,”Very nice, I’ll have another.

But you can’t spend all your time in the pubs that sell your ales. You need to invest it where it counts – your brewery. But there may be a way of doing both.

The old idea of the taproom was forgotten in the later years of the 20th century, when the big brewers were outdoing each other to mass produce their corporate beers, and the old idea of a pub next to the brewery was swept away along with things like taste and individuality.

But it may be making a comeback.

Across the UK there are over 2000 small breweries. Many are said to be considering setting up their own taproom, that is, if they haven’t done so already. Many new start-ups have integrated it into their business plans from day one.

Up and down the country, small breweries - and especially those that are taking over old pub premises with their cool cellars as the ideal place to brew and condition craft beer - are finding that it makes good business sense to open the front up for customers who are keen to sample what is being brewed in the back.

After all, there is no place better to enjoy a pint of beer than in the premises right where it was brewed, where aficionados can share a pint or two with the people who brewed it. For you as a brewer, there’s no better place to conduct your market research either - and not only can your taproom bar be a showcase for your beer and your business, it can be a real profit centre in its own right. Yes, pubs are closing up and down the country, but those that are staying open - and bringing in plenty of business - are those that have something special to offer.

And it’s hard to think of anything more special for a beer drinker than a brew made on the premises, and sampled in the company of the brewer.

Your taproom is the perfect business opportunity for you to build a reputation for your beers and showcase their individuality. You can invite trade buyers to sample your wares in the perfect environment of tradition and conviviality, you can take orders for crates and casks (and even fulfil them in the car park) and you can turn a profit by making your taproom a warm and inviting space to spend a few hours.

You might want to include a few traditional bar games, such as darts and shove ha’penny if you prefer a traditional ambiance, or you could take a modern high-tech approach. But remember, you don’t need frills. The focus of your business should - and, in fact, must be - your beer.

Looking to start orexpand a microbrewery business? Unsure of what support you need? Find out what options are available to you

What about the licence?

You will of course need a licence to run your taproom and sell alcohol for consumption on your premises. However, this can be easier to arrange than you might think, especially if you work from a pub and therefore have a suitable premises readymade. Following the 2003 Licensing Act, the licensing regime changed and the responsibility for issuing personal and premises licences now rests with local authorities.

As a pub, your taproom must meet four licencing objectives: prevention of crime and disorder, protection of children, public safety, and the reduction of public nuisance. To apply, you must be over 18 years old, possess no criminal record, prove that you are a ‘fit and proper' person and also fully understand your legal and social responsibilities.

Candidates are also advised to hold a British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) National Licensee's certificate. It is not compulsory, but it could help you get the approval you need.

If you plan to offer some catering that is more ambitious than crisps and pork scratchings, you will also need to contact the local environmental health department to ensure you meet their standards too.

And if you're a newcomer to the industry you will also need training. This will introduce you to all the skills you need to run the public-facing side of your business successfully, including legal skills, financial management, marketing, beer and cellar skills, and food hygiene. There are also training courses for experienced licensees.

Funding

Of course, while setting out a counter and bringing in a few glasses will not be too expensive, running a taproom may not be cheap, and you might need funding to do the job properly However, there are many funding options available to help with the development of your business.

At Rangewell, we can help you find the funding solutions that are right for you and your brewery. Simply call us to discuss the solutions that could see you opening your own taproom.

At Rangewell we can help you arrange all types of funding for your microbrewery business. Our service - and our finance team’s expertise - is absolutely free.


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