Lifting the ale: Rise of tap rooms helping beer fans see behind the scenes
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
For aficionados, there's nothing like the thrill of going behind the scenes – and it's a technique artisan breweries are increasingly using to win over customers.
The growth of brewery tap rooms – bars serving the brewery's own beer on site – reflect a desire for brewers to find another way to get their products to market, at a time when the number of pubs is declining.
According to the Society of Independent Brewers (Siba), a third of breweries are now running tap bars, with most having on site shops.
Norfolk's thriving craft beer scene is no different with Norwich's Redwell Brewing Company having seen success with its own brewery tap.
The company, under new management after being bought last year, decided opening up to the public would help bring sales and improve links with the community.
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Being based outside the city centre, in Trowse, the brewery had to find a way to become a destination, and teamed up with pizza company Brick to offer food and beer on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Amy Hancock, marketing and events manager at Redwell, said: 'We have been overwhelmed by the success of our brewery taproom, so much so that we have expanded our outside beer garden four times to now accommodate more than 200 people.
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'Initially attracting our immediate Trowse community, word has spread like wildfire and we are now visited by families much further afield.'
The taproom has built stronger connections with customers and let them see behind the scenes by meeting master brewer Belinda Jennings, said Ms Hancock.
For Duration Brewing near Swaffham, becoming a destination to be visited is a key part of the business's vision.
Husband-and-wife team Derek Bates and Miranda Hudson are working to turn a stone barn on a farm in West Acre into a mixed fermentation brewery.
Ms Hudson said: 'Why should all the cities get the tap rooms? If we want to celebrate our county, agriculture and location why not try to drag those beer drinkers away from the city and get them closer to nature?'
She added that consumers wanted to see more of the process and where their food and drink was coming from – particularly when it came to artisan products.