Envisioning a Taproom
It wouldn't be quite right to say we're starting with a blank canvas. But we do have a lot of flexibility right now in laying out how the brewery's taproom will work and its finish details. That flexibility is kind of locking us up right now. Unfortunately, we don't have the luxury of time on our side. We'll finish up the last of the demolition today and will have our general contractor and an HVAC technician onsite in just about 48 hours. In the meantime, we've got to get permits filed with the town of Angier. The pace just seems to keep accelerating!
On the picture below, we've laid out where we're thinking the new bar will be located.
Right now, we're weighing the pros and cons between two layouts. To make things a bit more challenging, the layout of the taproom affects the placement of our taps and the walk-in cooler that supports it. And where plumbing and electrical enter the taproom. Oh, and the simple matter of whether we keep the window has direct implications on the layout in the brew house. No pressure.
The large double doors to the left of the bar will be replaced with glass doors, so they will offer visibility into the brewery for customers on the left side of the bar and taproom. If we preserve the existing window into the brewery, here's what we think the taproom layout will look like:
The important elements here are that we'd have a nice window into the brew house that hopefully shows off the glinting stainless steel fermenters we'll soon be acquiring. As a result of that decision, the beer taps would be on the right side of the bar. The taps and window would somewhat counterbalance one another, offering some sort of symmetry. However, we're concerned that having multiple bartenders on days where we have events or bottle releases will cause people to be stepping all over one another to pour a pint.
Here's the brew house layout that is implied by the taproom layout:
The walk-in cooler that supports the taps will be approximately 8'x10'. In this layout, it's over in the right corner of the brewery. Its placement there seems to offer a more open brewery layout. We're planning to eventually have a 15 bbl brewplant and this layout seems to allow us to have reasonable access to the 10' garage doors that exit the building. Prior to launch, we're intending to purchase four 15bbl unitanks. The diagram shows an additional two fermenters that may be 15 or 30bbl.
We also have additional space off to the left of this floorplan where deliveries are accepted, grain is stored and two large walk-in coolers hold filled kegs for conditioning until they're ready for our taproom or distribution to your favorite taproom or restaurant. We also have a small bit of storage space we can also repurpose for a small office/lab, though it seems far from the taproom and brewery.
Ok. Onto Plan B. As mentioned before, we're concerned about contention in the taproom for access to the taps. This layout seems to nicely address that issue:
In this layout, we get rid of the large window and adjust the taps to be in the middle of the bar. This seems to offer a better symmetry and balance and probably offers an easier workflow for times when there are multiple people manning the bar. We love hanging out at Bond Brothers Brewery in Cary and their taproom bar with its centered taps are beautiful and functional.
However, in this layout we lose the ability to see through the large window that was previously there. We're weighing whether to add two smaller windows that flank each side of the taps. At only 24" wide, they might not add much in the way of sight lines to the brewhouse. They might bring more light into the taproom. Or they might just make the wall look cluttered.
Here's how this taproom layout effects the brewery:
In this layout, the 8'x10' walk-in cooler moves to the left on the wall to support the beer taps. In this case, we might be able to capture the space to the right and build a small lab that would double as an office. Additionally, we could consider having a window from the taproom into the lab space. Another window or even a glass door into the lab from the brewery might offer some sort of sight line from the taproom into the brewery. We'd have to keep the lab/office clean and uncluttered!
Other implications of this layout are that the cooler encroaches more into the area where the fermenters will reside. We might need to push the brewplant back a bit more towards the garage door. Somehow, it seems like this layout might effect our ability to add fermenters down the road.
So there you have it - a complete brain lock on our part. In sum, we thing the pros/cons look like this:
Windowed Taproom -
Preserves a large window into the brewery area
May offer more space in the brewery for equipment and fermenter expansion
Lacks the symmetry of the centered taps
May make it more difficult for bartenders to serve our patrons
Centered Taproom -
Seems to offer a better symmetry or balance of items on the wall behind the bar
Better supports the workflow of multiple bartenders
Allows us to have a lab space more accessible to the brewery and possibly offers us a view into the taproom while working
We lose the large window into the brewery area
Might consume space in the brewery that would better be put towards expanding fermenter capacity