One key element of the modern brewery to me is a sense of place. I mean that the brewery itself is in a sense the social object. A center where people can travel to, gather with others, and enjoy this shared bond of liking this breweries beer. I see it regularly here in North Carolina with Big Boss having close to 500 people on their monthly tour, Fullsteam has a number of community events weekly, or Mystery brewing having movie nights.
Let’s consider back the first generation of craft brewers in the 1980, two companies I can think of started out both contract brewing their product. They both grew to national attention and grew at a good pace, eventually one established a permanent home, with smaller test batch system and place for public to visit and tour, Boston Beer Company. While the other Pete’s Wicked Ale did well initially, never established a ‘home’ and eventually was spun off from Pete Slosberg to be killed off by Gambrinus years later. And yes there were more factors going on but this sense of place to put a face on the company is a factor among them.
Have you driven past a InBev or MillerCoors plant? Is there anything compelling or could it be any other industrial plant along the highway? Even Guinness for how much it has grown and been acquired it still has the old brewery for tour and a shrine that many of my friends have gone and taken the tour and enjoyed a few pints.
From Magic Hat’s quirky taproom to visiting the iconic Anchor brewery, it’s a sense of place that helps people find a connection to the beers they love. With all the debate of Craft vs ‘Crafty’ the last few months, this remains in my mind at least a touchstone that helps define what a brewery is.