Conformity and Creativity
“Each of our breweries is responsible for keeping the company standards—Hammerhead, Terminator, Ruby and the current seasonal offering-on tap at their locations at all times,” said John Richen of McMenamins. “They are also expected to fill tap handles with one Pacific Northwest style IPA, one porter and one wheat beer, all with recipes of their own design. That leaves them three or four extra taps to experiment with other styles.”
For McMenamins, having so many locations gives them a wider exposure for the brand. “We have a community identity across multiple and often vastly different demographics,” Richen said. “And we have the financial leverage from stronger performing locations to help slower locations get their legs under them initially.”
When it comes to overall beer sales, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery moves the most beer as a brewpub chain. The more than 53,000 barrels sold at BJ’s locations includes beer brewed in its brewpubs and beer made for the company under contract. BJ’s operates 109 casual dining restaurants in 13 states from California to Ohio.
In terms of market presence, brewpubs operated by CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, with dual headquarters in Louisville, KY, and Chattanooga, TN, have the largest footprint. How is the footprint measured: sales, volumn, reach?In 2010, Centerbridge Capital Partners formed CraftWorks by acquiring the Rock Bottom Restaurants and Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group. This brought together nearly 200 company- and franchise-owned brewpubs with brands including Rock Bottom, Gordon Biersch, ChopHouse and Big River. The Old Chicago chain is also in the mix which sprawl out over our country.
Both BJ’s and Craftworks did not respond to requests to be interviewed for this article.