Opening A Taproom Tips – Go Bigger

This post is offering “opening a taproom tips”. Well kind of anyway. All will be revealed…

Furthermore, playing round with the format today. I’m doing a lot of travelling for work. So this has been written on a mobile phone.

It is essentially an answer to a post on Reddit/TheBrewery. The original post was:

Opening a Taproom Tips

I decided to write a reply. Adding to some good advice written by others.

The original post can be viewed here.

I decided to answer, it might of become a bit of rant. But all the advice was from the heart and what I tell my clients on weekly basis.

Later, I’m doing a co-written article with a equipment supplier where we go into more detail about sizing a brewery. It will include key factors to consider the brewhouse design phase.

However, I think the answer I gave has some good take-ways for aspiring brewery owners. Plus please follow the link as other people have given some good advice too.

Opening A Taproom Tips – The Answer

As others have said, there’s a lot going on here.

My first thought is, you don’t know malt prices for a commercial brewery. That scares me…I think you need to do a lot more research.

You should be costing everything out now. Figures don’t have to be spot on but…you should be building relationships with your suppliers today.

You’ve been given some great advice here by people that know the business. I’ll just add to what they are saying.

As a reference, I’m a career brewer whose worked in many different countries. It’s my guide sticky’d to this forum, explaining how to get into the industry.

I now work as a brewing consultant, having this exact same conversation on a weekly basis with people who want to start too small.

I still don’t understand why people always go small. When they’ve been through this forum and probably others with everyone advising not too.

Being Too Small – Opening a Taproom Tips

1BBL isn’t enough. You’ll biggest seller is say an IPA, the turn around time is say 3 weeks. If you’re getting 275 glasses at a time (with beer losses – probably less).

You’re going to be chasing your tail and taking up a lot of your tank space for one beer. Lets not get to lagers, that need 6 weeks!

You’ll spend more in costs on everything…

From raw materials due to less efficiency of small scale systems, to spending more on chemicals when cleaning per bbl brewed.

It takes almost the same amount of time to brew 1bbl as it does for 10bbl. You don’t want to be brewing more than 3 times a week. There’s a lot more to brewing than just your brew days.

Also pricing isn’t scalable a 1BBL system isn’t 5 times cheaper than 5BbL system. A 5Bbl system isn’t half the price of a 10Bbl system.

You need jacketing on your FV’s, so you can control each brews temperature individually. You’re home brewer, you know a saison and a lager ferment a different temps.

I could go on and on…

How Many Taps to Start With?

Yeah 16 taps is insane…

You want to have good through put when you start out, to keep beer fresh. You also need to learn you local market and what they like.

Start with some cores say 4 and do say 2 to 4 rotating. Get your cores locked in so, regulars know what to expect when they order.

Craft Beers on Tap
Craft Beers on Tap

You don’t want to be taking care of 16 taps when you start as you’ll have other issues to be dealing. Do less beers but do them well.

As other have said, have a growler machine at least for take-aways. Even if it’s just a can at time from the taps.

Have cold storage for kegs and if you want to save money have the taps coming directly off the cold room.

Putting beer into kegs frees up tank space.

Opening A Taproom Tip – Main Take-aways

My main opening at taproom tips for new clients are:

-> Start with a minimum of 5HL

-> Oversize your glycol and cooling system to add tanks later.

-> Leave room for double batch tanks for expansion, if possible on buy on start up for what will become your biggest sellers (again bigger tanks aren’t scalably more expensive).

-> Plan for 5 years as you want your original brewhouse to last 5 years if possible. You can work with a equipment manufacturer to add an extra tank to make a 2 vessel system a 3 vessel system at a later date for 30% of your original cost rather than buy a whole new brewhouse.

-> If you really want to do smaller batches buy a few 250L FV’s for a 5HL system. So you can two styles of beer of one brew. Say a fruited sour and a SOUR IPA.

-> They are many ways to skin a cat if your until brewhouse design is good


Overall, spend extra at start-up and work with a consultant if you’re unsure of initial brewhouse design. That extra money spent will set you up much better to succeed.

It’ll save you money down the line and allow you to grow organically much more easily. Please listen to all of what the others have said.

If you’ve some initial follow-up questions please feel free to reach out on DM’s (this was for Reddit) or email me at (for people reading this article):

I wish the best of luck to anyone who enters this industry. It’s hard work but can be rewarding…

But if you go in thinking; ah, we will be fine and don’t plan properly…there will be heartbreak ahead.

So yes, I might of got carried away. However, I feel sometimes people go into the brewing business without the correct tools to succeed.

So there you have it…

As I say I will be drilling down on this subject with a brewing equipment suppler. To explain how good design can save you money down the line.

I hope this article helped you, have a good day and happy brewing!



Here are a couple of testimonials from people I have worked with:

Here are some more articles that you might find useful:

–> The minimum equipment list, you need to start your brewery, on a budget – Minimum Brewery Equipment List

–> How much it costs to start a brewery – Microbrewery Set Up Costs Lowdown

–> Preparing a building for a brewery install – 8 Brewery Building Preparation Tips

–> What to lookout for when buy Chinese Brewing Equipment – 5 Tips When Buying Chinese Brewing Equipment

Neil Playfoot

Neil is a brewer with 25 years international brewing experience. Based out of China (first came in 2010) he works as a brewing consultant helping brewers with their projects and brewing processes. To find out what services Neil can provide your brewery please click here. If you'd like to contact Neil you can email at
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