Lesson 3: Navigating the Taproom

Welcome back! Hope you enjoyed last week's overview of what's in that glass of beer you've been waiting to have. You all did very well and have now earned a proper drink. (Oh wait, you have been already?). This week we're crossing the threshold of one of beer's most sacred spaces: the taproom. You can now officially enjoy this amazing beverage.

There are no better places to drink than in the taproom of the brewery itself. There’s been an explosion in the taproom in the UK recently, and it makes perfect sense. Breweries are realising not only can they make money straight out of the brewery, but it can really be an expression of the brand itself. Their customers will experience the brand as a whole, rather than a label on a can or a short visit to a website. 

Yet for us, the drinker, there are few better places

Lesson 3: Navigating the Taproom

Welcome back! Hope you enjoyed last week's overview of what's in that glass of beer you've been waiting to have. You all did very well and have now earned a proper drink. (Oh wait, you have been already?). This week we're crossing the threshold of one of beer's most sacred spaces: the taproom. You can now officially enjoy this amazing beverage.

There are no better places to drink than in the taproom of the brewery itself. There’s been an explosion in the taproom in the UK recently, and it makes perfect sense. Breweries are realising not only can they make money straight out of the brewery, but it can really be an expression of the brand itself. Their customers will experience the brand as a whole, rather than a label on a can or a short visit to a website. 

Yet for us, the drinker, there are few better places to taste the beer of the breweries we love. In the taproom, not only is the beer fresher, but brewers will often hold something back for the taproom. You’ll often find amazing collaborations, the experimental beers that were made on the pilot kit and those that quickly became extremely hard to find. It’s also here you may find yourself at the bar with the head brewer. 

Yes, you can tell, we are fans of the taproom, and when you have them as beautifully designed as, say, Magic Rock or Northern Monk, or perhaps the fun space of Camden Town Brewery, Moor Beer in Bristol, or Mondo in Battersea, it becomes a bit of a pilgrimage. And that’s already before we touch upon the likes of Brew By Numbers, Fourpure, The Kernel and seemingly a dozen more in Bermondsey, so popular on a Saturday afternoon. 

NAVIGATING THE TAPROOM 

Landing in the taproom can be a daunting experience - dozens of beers on, seemingly all of crazy strengths, and not quite knowing how to attack them. There are a few tips however:

1. Go tasters. Many taprooms now offer tasting 1/3 pints, usually on a nice wooden paddle. 

2. Go rare. This the opportunity to get all those rare beers that you can’t often get anywhere else. Time to leave it in the bartender's hands – ask advice, get the stuff you can’t get anywhere. Put it on Untapped and make friends jealous. 

3. Start low. Just as you would in a tasting, start with the lower alcohol beers. Common sense really - that 11.5% imperial, barrel aged stout first out may ‘cloud’ the next couple of hours. 

4. Hit the food truck. It’s going to be a long day.   

OUR FAVOURITE TAPROOMS RIGHT NOW

Enjoying a beer in a brewery's taproom is an experience in and of itself. As mentioned, a brewery taproom is not just a couple of taps on a wall, rather it's the complete expression of the brand. It's where you get to see and feel (and taste!) everything that's important to the identity of a particular brewing company. Now that we're all good and thirsty here are a few of our favourite taprooms in the UK where you get a really good feel of a brewery's personality, which, we think, makes the beer taste even better.

MAGIC ROCK

This is perhaps the loveliest taproom in the country and we’ve heard of people travelling from afar to visit it. Sat by the barrels of the brewery, you can sit and enjoy that Un-Human Cannonball in perfect condition in the perfect glass while chatting to other enthusiasts. A beery heaven.

NORTHERN MONK

Northern Monk’s Refectory (see what they did) is a great little spot in Leeds to try some of the award-winning beers from these guys as well as enjoying some good food. There’s around 20 beers on tap and plenty more in the fridge.

CAMDEN TOWN BREWERY

Camden Town Brewery know how to have a good time. Their brewery bar has become a focal point for all manner of events and launches and there’s always some interesting beer on tap and in the fridge, whether it’s an unfiltered Hells or a barrel-aged IHL. In the summer, when the party spills onto the terrace, it’s one of the best places to drink in London.

MONDO BREWING

Mondo’s taproom in the glamorous destination of Battersea (maybe not) is a beery oasis among the industrial units of the area, but a very worthwhile destination in itself, not least of all because of the number taps they have on offer. Given Mondo’s love of worldwide styles you can travel the world from the confines of this lovely space.

While these are all incredibly exciting places to grab a beer in the UK, don't forget to add a taproom to your travel itineraries: Cantillon in Brussels, Founders in Grand Rapids and even Birra del Borgo in Italy to name a few. It's nigh impossible to find a place more representative of the local culture than enjoying a beer fresh out of the tanks. Some of them have been there for centuries anyway!

Ok, grab your beer and come have a seat and join us next week as we work through how to really taste that beer. We'll be using Rooster's Yankee to discuss the topic so maybe think about grabbing one so you can follow along. Cheers!