When Jacqui, Tom and I bought Tom’s Tap and Brewhouse back in June we had a choice of closing for a couple of weeks to “make the place our own” or carry on opening and get to know our customers.
Fortunately we chose the latter. We gradually took down the Offbeat branding replacing it with our own and, at the same time, forging a bond with our customers most of whom seem as equally invested as us in making it a success.
So, six months down the line, what have we learned?
We learned that, even in a heatwave, if it is going to rain, it will rain on a Friday evening when you have a band booked. If it does rain, there isn’t enough room in the bar for everyone to sit comfortably.
We learned that, due to the position of the bar, we can’t see customers as they walk in when we’re behind it. Furthermore, if we need to change a keg on a busy Friday night we have to fight through crowds and past a band to get to the cold room, then come back carrying said keg before moving more customers when going through the line cleaning/rinsing and keg changing process.
We learned that the leaking plinth the brewery kits currently stands on wasn’t as big a pain in the bum as we’d anticipated but that malt dust gets everywhere on a brewday, including on the glassware.
We learned that the chiller in the cold room was considerably past its best and was going to cost £2500 to replace. Ouch.
We learned that supposedly competing businesses are actually great allies and that everyone we’ve spoken to in Crewe wants us to succeed, but also that our location means we have to reach out to people rather than wait for them to find us.
So with that knowledge safely stacked in the bank we were faced with some challenges but also an opportunity.
Last month we received the keys to unit 6, the unit that originally housed Offbeat brewery and that has the drainage already in place for a brewery to function well.
This will allow us to
- Open the taproom while we are brewing
- Increase seating capacity in the taproom
- Secure the yard outside across all three units, particularly important in the summer months.
- Build a direct draw cold room that will allow us to change kegs with minimal disruption as well as keep a wider choice of beer and serve it at its best.
- Increase brewing capacity should we decide that we want to sell more beer outside the tap room next year.
Obviously it is a pretty exciting time for us and we hope that we will be able to do the bulk of it without closing the taproom but that rather depends on time and money. The support we’ve had from you, our customers, has been without parallel and it is clear to us that you share our vision of making the taproom the comfortable community-focused space we believe it could be.
Work starts this week with preparing the floor in Unit 6 but keep an eye on our socials for updates. We’ll be open during our normal winter hours (5-11 Thursday and Friday, 12-11 Saturday, 12-6 Sunday) throughout January so do come in and see the transformation develop.