Seems like this is as good a time as any, but given the Crafts Drinks Bill is heading to the 2nd stage in the Dáil this week, for me to take a look at, what makes a great tap room. I think I may have found it in the shape of Sentinel Brewing in Sheffield. I’ve written about this previously here
This is the brainchild of Alex Barlow, who many will know as one of the assessors from the Beer Academy sommelier program. Here we have what used to be a wine warehouse thats been transformed into a functioning brewery, tap room, event space, and casual eatery.
Lets take the beers & brewery first, you can see the brewery from pretty much any angle in the taproom. Let’s face it, stainless steel has a hypnotising effect and draws your attention immediately. Sentinel brew a wide range of beer styles, from tradition British styles, to other world styles. Served both in keg, and traditional cask. Also offering growlers for people to take home some of the beer for later on.
Located in central Sheffield it’s in a great location, however it’s clearly brought activity to an area of town that wouldn’t otherwise have many people around it. Taprooms like this bring people in from all over and could help with the regeneration of areas. Can you imagine locations in your town that could do with something like this? Given that a lot of Irish brewers are located in industrial estates on the edge of town, maybe having the options to open a tap room in town for easier tourist access like Cloudwater?
Now onto the food, obviously this might not be an option for a lot of Brewers, however they may choose to team up with local food trucks or producers for food options. But to those that do have the space and budget then it makes sense to match food with the beer options available (check out the menus here) Why not make it a destination people can call for lunch, or an early evening bite to eat. The talented chef at Sentinel made a specially created St Patricks Day menu to be matched with the Yellowbelly beers that were being poured that weekend.
Taprooms aren’t places to come and get trollied, so the option of getting everything in measurements in a third of a pint or above, help you to try more beers, and when there is as wide a range as Sentinel is a way to keep customers coming back regularly to see what’s new.
Beer tourism, is a growing trend worldwide, areas like Belgium have long successfully traded on their reputation as a beer destination, and with the advent of the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East we need to embrace the quality and variety of our indigenous food producers. Highlighting these to visitors, and spread the message of the food revolution here. In the US, 7% of all craft beer sales, take place at the source, meaning the brewery or taproom. Wouldn’t it be great for our brewers, cider makers, and distillers to get to keep the extra margin for themselves?
With the bill being debated at the second stage, you need to contact your local TDs to tell them to co sponsor this bill, and support it. Most TDs have a twitter account, so tag them in when retweeting this one from Beoir. This is a vital step in the modernisation of our archaic alcohol legislation – we need to be more like our neighbours and deal with alcohol like adults.