Is the UK facing a Taproom Takeover?Edit Post
Contributed by on Nov 21, 2018
Two readers love this post.
There’s no arguing that craft beer has taken over the UK. In 2017, it was reported that the number of breweries had risen to over 2,000 (a growth of 64% in just five years), with tax breaks encouraging more and more micro-breweries to spring up all over the nation.
This trend is so prevalent that even the big beer companies have been investing heavily in their “craft style”
offering in an attempt to compete. If they’re not bringing out their own IPAs in illustrated can sleeves, big
breweries are investing – or simply buying out – popular independent breweries. A fair slice of Beavertown
is owned by Heineken. Camden Town Brewery was purchased by AB InBev. Meantime now belongs to
Although this muddies the water (or clouds the beer?) of what makes a craft ale, there are still volumes of
genuinely independent contenders vying for space in the market. Fortunately, they’re mostly aimed
towards a market that is prepared to seek them out. So, how can these micro-breweries compete amongst
bar taps crowded with big beer brands?
The answer is, they don’t.
Instead of competing on supermarket shelves and pub taps, an increasing number of micro-breweries are
investing in their own taprooms, creating cost-effective destinations for craft beer devotees where their
own brand gets to be the headliner.
What’s the difference between a pub and a taproom?
Let’s break it down to the basics. Pubs and bars serve a wide range of beverages (mostly alcoholic), where
adults go to let off steam and, typically, get drunk. Maybe your local pub hosts live bands or does a stellar
Sunday roast – we’re making a generalisation here.
Taprooms, on the other hand, serve the brews of one company. They’re usually in close proximity to where
the beers are actually made – either in a nearby building, an adjacent room or even the same room, if it’s
big enough. The space is not only intended for customers to enjoy a beer, but as an extension of the
brewery brand itself.
What makes taprooms better?
Nobody is saying that taprooms are better than bars, they just serve a different purpose.
Okay, no, wait – we are. We are saying that taprooms are better than bars. Here’s why.
UK taprooms are a fairly new thing, which is why they’re usually designed to modern standards and
social expectations. You’ll typically find them easy to access and welcoming to families and dogs (at
least at certain times).
- Knowledgeable staff
Fed up of having your pint poured by a bored-looking student who exclusively drinks alcopops
(probably)? At a taproom, you’re going to be served by people who are passionate about the beer
and the brand. They’ll know everything there is to know about each specific beer, offer
recommendations that are actually based on something other than guesswork, and be able to
provide witty answers to all of your stupid questions.
- Excellent food
Never again will you have to suffer microwaved meals or overpriced crisps just to eat something
while you drink. Taprooms tend to have on-site kitchens that cook up the best food to accompany
beer (like Tex-Mex, burgers or pizza), or partner with a local food truck or restaurant willing to
- Relaxed atmosphere
Everyone at a taproom is there because they appreciate beer. You know this because if they just
wanted to get drunk, they’d be at a bar. As a result, there’s usually a chilled-out, communal vibe. A
lot of taprooms double up as community hubs, hosting various events and live music. Plus, you’re
often sat in amongst all of the mash tuns and kettles, which is pretty cool in itself.
- A chance to get to know the brand
Not only will the staff be able to tell you more about the beer selection, but the whole venue will
reflect the essence and culture of the brewery. Presumably, you’re only at the taproom because
you like the beer and the brand, so this can only be a good thing. Plus, you can usually pick up some
cool branded merch, like t-shirts, growlers and glassware.
Where can you try one for yourself?
Excellent question. Here’s a list of some of the top taprooms already open in the UK, but it’s definitely worth checking online to see whether a local team or your favourite brand are planning to open a taproom any time soon. Don’t rely on discovering one at random – taprooms are usually tucked away and require a little bit of prior knowledge to find… but once you have, it’s totally worth it.