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My own or everyone elses?

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  • My own or everyone elses?

    Fellow enthusiasts: I plan on openeing a brewpub but would like some advice, history (if available), if pubs can be successful offering only the beer they brew themselves or if they also have to offer the national brands as well. I would prefer to offer only my own but not sure if this is practical. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  • #2
    There are lots of arguments for or against, you don't want to rub customers the wrong way. The angle I would take with this issue is to offer 2 styles "bottles only" of mass produced Beer Bud, Coors, or Miller. Now comes the fun part you charge them no less than $4.50 a bottle or $1.00 higher than your current price per pint, there paying more and getting less. If they complain about the price explain it is less expensive for you to make your own Beer than it is to have Skeeter the Bud driver drop it off at your door. I have seen people become fans of good beer by this aproach, as well as the humiliation they receive from there Micro drinking friends when there walking around the bar with there Coors Light. You also make a great profit considering one Bud pays for more than a six pack, and there is no happy our prices for any Beer but yours. I hope this helps. Good luck with your project I hope all goes well. Mike Hall
    Mike Hall


    • #3
      Here is where you have to seperate the enthusiast from your system and look at the problem as a businessman. I have seen breweries go both ways, but you have to look at your specific situation to find which is the right way for your brewpub. If you are in a large metropolitan area, and your customer is specifically coming into your restaurant for the beer, then I believe you can get away with not selling other products.

      If there are a variety of people (enthusiasts and others) coming into your restaurant, then I believe it is wise to sell a limited selection of other products. This does not mean that you don't try and educate them about more flavorful beers, it just means that you don't alienate them while you are trying to educate them.

      I worked at a brewpub that did carry a small selection of bottled products. A large number of people that came into the restaurant were not there because it was a brewpub, but because it was a good, convenient restaurant. The beer did bring in a lot of people, but not all of them. Often there would be a group of 6-8 business people in for a lunch with 5-6 drinking our beer and the others having bottled products. If we did not offer these products, the entire group may have gone somewhere else.

      Having said this, we did train our bartenders to give a small sample of our lightest product to anyone who ordered a bottled beer. And as much fun as it may be, never (at least to their face) make fun of a customer. They are your reason for being. If they don't want to drink your beer but want to eat and drink in your establishment, make them feel as welcome as possible. If they don't have something to drink, they may be the one that convinces the whole group to go somewhere else.
      David Schlosser
      Brewmaster / Founder
      Naked Dove Brewing Company
      Canandaigua, NY


      • #4
        Out vs In

        One thing to consider...several of the most sucesful chains don't offer a drop of outside beer. I've heard the discussion for years, but look at the brewpubs that continue to operate at a profit vs. the ones that have closed. here is a short list of pubs not selling others beers:

        Rock Bottom
        John Harvard's
        Gorder Biersch
        Iron Hill

        Safe to say they are all making be the judge.
        One other thing to keep in mind is this: After making a considerable investment in you brewing facility (you just built a small factory at a considerable expense that has an overhead) you might want to consider the impact on your brewery overhead of selling a beer you had to buy vs. one you made. At our pub it actually costs us $.17 to sell a beer we didn't make if you count the expense of the brewery staff (which changes little no matter how much beer you sell), heat, lights, insurance, etc.

        If we sell beer we didn't make we can profit, but not nearly as much as if we manufactured it ourselves.

        BTW. If you offer great food, great service, and great beer from the startup you will have a much easier time selling your beer only than if you switch back and forth between concepts.

        Food is a bigger make or break...tons more people will come to your pub as a place to eat first and as a place to drink second. The scare tactic I hear all of the time is: "People won't come if we don't sell Bud!" Not many great restaurants don't sell any alcohol...and still make a profit!

        Good luck with your new venture either way!
        Larry Horwitz


        • #5
          brewery size

          Watch your square footage too...The brewery will take a bare min of 800 ft2. And let me tell you 800 is like brewing in a closet.
          Larry Horwitz