With the continued growth of the craft beer movement, sippers are moving from their favorite bars and breweries and are adding smaller, more intimate beer-experiencing venues into their repertoire, like microbreweries and brew pubs.
While they may sound like interchangeable names for a place that distributes or brews smaller batches of beer, the two are actually quite different, says Gabe Haim, president of Oyster Bay, New York-based Oyster Bay Brewing Company.
“A microbrewery—or as I’d like to say, a craft beer brewery—is a production brewery that makes beer to be consumed onsite, for distribution, or both, and for all intents and purposes, is the sole business at that location. A brew pub, basically is a microbrewery that has a restaurant attached to it and predominantly brews for onsite consumption. The main thing here being a restaurant on site would make it a brew pub,” he explains.
One of the benefits to a microbrewery or brew pub, he says, is that since both venues brew for on-site and small batch enjoyment—although microbreweries do have a distribution model to plan for—beer makers can get creative with ingredients and infusions, try new brewing processes and provide consistent and quality beer for those who are clamoring for the next best thing in craft brews.
“You can definitely get more creative brewing things for consumption on site—they go faster, you don’t have to worry about stale product on a shelf, you don’t have to package it, and you don’t need the Federal Government’s approval for labels for a small batch beer that you aren’t distributing,” he says.
Haim adds that microbreweries and brew pubs have a different business model as well, although there are exceptions to every rule. For example, a microbrewery will brew beer that will land on store shelves, most likely regionally or even nationwide. However, you would be hard-pressed to find beer from a brew pub more than a state or two away, he says.
And while the brewing process is the same in both production (micro) breweries as it is in brew pubs, there is one added benefit that sippers have when visiting on-site locations of either—getting more immersed in the brewing process.
“The brewing process is the same in a brew pub as in a production facility. In a brew pub, you might be able to see the tanks, and feel more part of the process, where a production facility is just that—production. With it being easier to see the process, it probably helps the customer understand that process better, so [brewing itself] is probably better understood today than it was 10 years ago,” he says.
And, he adds, while the growth of microbreweries and brew pubs may mean increased competition among beer makers, it also means that brewers will look to continue to elevate the craft.
“As brewers improve processes, listen to consumers, market themselves, and focus on quality—the beer drinking community should continue to grow and support the local breweries,” says Haim.
Check out the Best American Beer Fests of 2019 for when you’re on the go.
Related Video: All Beer is Ale or Lager
Header image courtesy of Oyster Bay Brewing Company