Hosting pop up events is a great way to drum up even more business, especially on a slower day of the week. The right event can motivate your less outgoing fans to pop in on a weekday or possibly draw in customers outside your usual base. Some classic examples include art shows, charity events and WWE watch parties. (OK, that last one isn’t classic, but it should be.)
But here’s another approach to think about: Make your beer the pop up event. Tap rooms are already strong drivers of brewery revenue these days, and beer festivals and tasting events always draw crowds, so the idea here is to mush those two things together and pop up a tasting room of your own outside your normal confines.
A super elaborate version of this is Deschutes Brewery’s Street Pub that road tripped across the country (photo above). We went to one when it stopped in Cleveland in 2015, and it drew in hordes of people into a part of town no one would ever be otherwise and was super fun. Here is how Joe Pleich, director of the Deschutes Street Pub Program, explained the concept at the time:
We knew we wanted to elevate our field programming to do something big, but ultimately relatable. As I thought back on how it all started for us, I realized the first chapter that makes Deschutes Brewery special is the Pub. We started 27 years ago in Bend on Bond Street with a mission to brew damn tasty beer, serve inspired local grub and create a community gathering place to simply bring people together. Coming together to share stories, catch-up, debate and laugh over a pint is what makes drinking beer at the pub such a memorable experience.
Then, it hit us: Let’s take the Pub to the people! Street Pub is meant to emulate that pub culture in every way. For the last five years that I have worked for Deschutes, there is one question I would hear every day: “When are you building a pub in our town?” Street Pub is the answer. We are building a Pub. In your city. For one day. In its practicality, Street Pub is a huge block party but with, high-end culinary demonstrations and barrel-aged reserve beer releases. In addition, the bar is built from local reclaimed oak and 100% of the proceeds go to charity, so it is much more than just a block party. It’s a fun way to share our passion for community, quality, sustainability and celebrating the culture of beer altogether in one event.
Assuming you have fewer resources than Deschutes, here are two recent small-scale examples of this strategy in action.
Upslope Brewing’s Backcountry Tap Room
Upslope Brewing Co. is a Boulder-based craft brewer known for its mountain culture and a passion for the outdoors, and it will be hosting its fourth annual Backcountry Tap Room on Oct. 6 in Fraser, Colo. The experience offers craft beer fans and outdoor enthusiasts a rustic, pop-up taproom on a mountainside in Colorado’s backcountry — perfect for toasting to the fall season.
By way of marked trails (~5 miles out and back), attendees will enjoy a family-friendly, day hike to soak up some brews and beautiful views while also getting a sneak preview of Upslope’s new winter Limited Release Spruce Tip IPA. There will be games, Steepland String Band onsite, and leashed furry friends are encouraged to attend
“Through our 10-year history, Upslope brews have been largely inspired by the outdoors lifestyle,” said Matt Cutter, founder at Upslope. “With Colorado’s backcountry in our DNA, we look forward to sharing a day outdoors with our friends, both new and old, each year. For our fourth annual event, we’re excited to give our fans a sneak peek at our brand new Winter Seasonal Limited Release — Spruce Tip IPA.”
Pike’s pop up inside its production facility
This is one I’d encourage more production brewery’s to steal from time to time. Over select weekends in August and September, as a quasi-Labor Day celebration, Seattle’s Pike Brewing opened the doors to its production brewery for a popup Brewery Beer Garden.
“We want to offer visitors a new way to experience Pike beer and the brewery itself,” said Gary Szeredy, general moanager of The Pike Pub. “While guests visiting each floor of our restaurants can view aspects of Pike’s gravity-flow brew system, opening up the brewery lets them see firsthand where the process begins.”
Pike already has a great tap room elsewhere, The Pike Pub and Tankard & Tun, but sometimes it’s just more fun to sit on kegs and drink off of barrels among the brewhouse itself. Again, just that small tweak and someone who has been to the usual tap room a bunch of times has a new reason to leave the house and experience Pike beer in a different way.
Are you doing a cool pop up tap room?
Let us know! Would love to gather and share other creative successful examples of this concept in action. You can send them to [email protected].