SIBA: brewery taprooms can replace community pubs

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Filling the gap: brewery taprooms can benefit communities
Filling the gap: brewery taprooms can benefit communities

Related tags Public house

Brewery taprooms are helping to fill the void left by community pub closures, according to a new report released by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA).

The body’s Brewers in the Community​ report was compiled from SIBA's annual members' survey results, which was completed by almost 500 of its 850 brewery members.

It showed 10,000 pubs have closed in the past 15 years, many of which were rural and suburban community pubs.

SIBA said brewery taprooms can fill the void for a community to socialise in, particularly where the last village pub has closed.

One brewery, which has tasted success with its taproom is Unity Brewhouse in Suckley on the Worcestershire-Herefordshire border, on a working hop farm.

Co-founder and brewer Sarah Saleh hailed the taproom a focal point for the countryside community.

Importance of provenance

She said: “On-site brewery taprooms are popular because people love being able to drink beer directly from the source and our brewery has the added benefit of being where the hops are grown and processed.

“A lot of our customers are not pubgoers, but love having somewhere to meet where they can share a drink with friends and neighbours.

“Being in a rural community, people are keen to support local business and are interested in the provenance of what they consume and we are now getting a good crowd in on Friday evenings, sometimes more than 100 people.

“Our taproom has been an excellent vehicle to spread awareness of our brand, including to local licensees who have been subsequently interested in serving our beer in their pubs.”

Similarly, Brixton Brewery in south London has a taproom and is part of a growing number of railway-arch breweries in the capital, opening its doors on a Saturday to give beer lovers the chance to try something a little different.

Brixton Brewery brewer Xochitl Benjamin said: “Having a Saturday taproom is a great way for people to see what we’re about.

“People really like the experience of sitting among the tanks and equipment of a working brewery. You get a proper sense of where your pint came from.”

Place and demand for all

The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Kate Nicholls lauded the boom in brewery taprooms and hailed it a “good example of how eating and drinking-out businesses have adapted to legislative and financial pressure, and changing customer tastes”.

She added: “The increase in taprooms is also likely to be linked to rising property costs for pubs and restaurants and the associated costs savings that come with being attached to a brewery.

“We should be pleased that taprooms are becoming more popular, but shouldn’t dismiss increasing financial burdens that are being placed on traditional outlets.

“There’s a place and a demand for all types of outlets, so it’s important that we focus on those property costs that are burdening traditional establishments, as well as welcoming new formats.”

British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds echoed Nicholls’ comments and outlined that taprooms and pubs can work together, to help each other.

She said: “Taprooms are a great way for breweries to showcase their beers, but I would see this as complementary to pubs, rather than a form of competition, given the vital role of pubs in our high street and communities, and the wide offer that comes with today’s pub, especially food.”

Menawhile, the number of craft brewers has stabilised after years of growth,​ according the data from the latest edition of The Brewery Manual​. 

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