A Brewpub On Every Corner?
Far from reaching a saturation point among craft breweries, we may never hit 33,000 or even 10,000, but I predict we’ll bust through the 2,000 mark as early as 2013. Of the new breweries that are sparging fast and furious, dozens are looking at easing in via the nanobrewery route. Mike Hess brews on a 1.6 barrel system at Hess Brewing in San Diego County, already home to three dozen breweries. By contrast, their largest neighbor, Stone, brews on a 120-barrel system. The Hess Brewing blog lists every nanobrewery they know of, which is over 60 already licensed and operating and nearly 50 in the planning phase.
The most popular model, though, is the brewpub, with over a thousand nationwide. Portland, OR, is awash in roughly 40 breweries, hence the Beervana nickname. Scott Lawrence is the co-owner of Breakside Brewing, which opened last year in the Woodlawn neighborhood, which, tragically, was brewpubless. They’re already looking at a second location in an underserved hood.
Others in town open up directly adjacent to other brewpubs—sort of the gas station effect. Intersections with gas stations (or coffee shops) on every corner sell more fuel than those with just one. A brewcentric hood could prove magnetic. There are already half a dozen brewpubs in Portland’s Buckman neighborhood. And not 10 minutes by foot from Amnesia is Lompoc’s 5th Quadrant (with Lompoc’s Sidebar attached)… where Hopwork’s Bike Bar just opened an adjacent pub.
Given that every city has more than 80 restaurants, Lawrence feels Portland “could support 80 brewpubs. We could have 200 brewpubs.” And while Portlanders’ love of local beer is magical, there are 30 US cities with larger populations, whose denizens might not mind a short walk to a local brewpub. Maybe there’s not really room for 33,000 or merely 10,000, but if those 30 cities opened 40 breweries to match Portland’s, I just found another 1,200 right there. If you don’t already have one, how would you feel having a brewpub in your neighborhood? If you do have one, how ‘bout one across the street?