“If you know what you’re doing in both food and beverage, it’s a good space to be in, especially if you don’t have to rely on building up a new brand,” she says.
“But I think people have to really have a passion for it, especially now.
“They try to have a hand or play an important role in the restaurant side, the brewery side, and on the management side, and they don’t delegate enough responsibility.
I think if you’re going to open a brewery or a brewpub, having enough quality partners, managers, or employees involved is really the key so that no area gets neglected.” Mark Hastings, cofounder and head brewer at Überbrew in Billings, Montana, has experience in all three areas—brewing, restaurants, and business operations.
PHOTO: COURTESY FUNKY BUDDAH BREWERY “My mom wouldn’t go to a brewery with me, but she would go to a brewpub,” says Scott Kerkmans, director at Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Brewing Industry Operations Program, which offers degrees in both brewery operations and brewpub operations.
“Brewpubs give you so much flexibility and so many opportunities to showcase your brand that a tasting room just doesn’t offer.“For me great food is a big part of my business plan,” Harris says.“I was tired of going to brewpubs and hearing people say things like ‘Okay, we’ll go here for one beer, and then we’ll go somewhere else and have dinner.’ I’m like, ‘why are you leaving?PHOTO: COURTESY ÜBERBREW/ YELLOWSTONE DESIGNWORKS “When I wasn’t brewing beer, I was managing restaurants,” Hastings says.“So when we were looking at coming into a crowded taproom market, food was going to be our niche.You’re also going to reach people who you wouldn’t have reached before, and I think you can also brew interesting beer.“I encourage our students to think more open-mindedly about brewpubs,” he says.“Überbrew is kind of our mission statement and our name all rolled into one.It reminds us what we’re trying to do every day, and that is to use the best raw materials and really work hard to make sure everything is the best that it can be.” The competitive advantages represented by brewpubs haven’t escaped some of the bigger players, including AB In Bev, which has invested in or acquired brands with a strong brewpub presence in recent years, including 10 Barrel Brewing, which operates five brewpubs, mainly centered in the West and on the West Coast, including a location in Portland, Oregon.Maybe it’s become a little more of our niche than what we wanted—about 65 percent of our sales are food—but it’s working pretty well.” Hastings says that in addition to providing a significant revenue stream in food sales and also helping to bring in a more diverse clientele, the food, beer, and entertainment options at Überbrew all complement each other in creating an overall pleasant and inviting atmosphere.“We believe that things such as atmosphere and service—even the music that’s playing when you’re enjoying our beer—only enhance the beer, and in the same way the food enhances the beer,” Hastings says.