What Top Breweries Are Doing Right: Winning Strategies To Grow Taproom Sales Recap

Keep reading for an in-depth recap of some of the trends and strategies that top performing taprooms are using to stay ahead of the game. 

Level Up with Arryved Webinar

Let’s talk about what makes the best breweries and taprooms stand out in today’s competitive market. In What Top Breweries Are Doing Right webinar, Brewers Association’s VP of Strategy and Chief Economist, Bart Watson, analyzes Arryved POS data to reveal the latest taproom sales trends and growth drivers. Using data from Arryved, a leader in point-of-sale systems for breweries, he uncovered some interesting trends and strategies that top performers are using to stay ahead of the game.

If you missed the live webinar, you can watch the recording here. Or, keep reading for an in-depth recap of some of the trends and strategies that top performers are using to stay ahead of the game. 

Diving into the Data

First things first, let’s talk numbers. The data used in Bart’s analysis comes from two main sets: 

  • The total Arryved POS data set which includes more than 2000 taprooms across the industry 
  • A same-store set which includes 555 locations across 47 states, with continuous sales data from January 2021 through March 2024

So, when we say these trends are solid, we mean it!

Now, here’s where it gets interesting: we also looked at the top performers–those breweries and taprooms in the top 10% for year-over-year (YoY) growth. Specifically, we compared their performance from January-March 2023 to January-March 2024. These high achievers aren’t just doing well, they’re excelling compared to the industry average. By analyzing what they’re doing differently, we can glean some valuable insights into their success, as well as ideas on how you can do the same in your own business.

Retail Sales: The Shift from Beer to Food

One of the big takeaways is how retail sales are evolving. Draft beer sales are on the decline, but don’t panic just yet. What’s picking up the slack? Food! That’s right. Food sales have jumped from 15% in January 2021 to over 20% by March 2024. This shift shows that having a killer food menu is a game-changer for keeping customers happy and coming back for more

On the other hand, non-beer alcohol sales (think wine, spirits, and seltzers) are creeping up slowly, while merchandise sales are slipping. The top 10% of locations, those high-flyers, are seeing even more success with food. They’ve figured out that a mouth-watering menu can really boost their bottom line, and bring more customers through the door.

If you’re looking for tools to help you with a smooth operating kitchen, look at your POS system! Arryved POS equips you with the toolbox to serve food just as well as your beverages with features like digital menus, robust reporting, contactless ordering, and more. 

Raising the Tab: Bigger Bills, Bigger Smiles

Overall, the average tab size at breweries has been climbing. But guess what? The top 10% are seeing the biggest boosts. Why? They’re selling more food. These top spots also seem to be offering more discounts, especially during the holiday season in December. It looks like a smart way to draw in crowds when the festive spirit is high.

When it comes to pricing, things are a little more complicated. While pint prices have gone up, they haven’t kept up with inflation. So, in today’s world of rising costs, a pint of beer is actually a pretty good deal. This could be your cue to encourage customers to enjoy a few more pints–responsibly, of course!

Timing is Everything: Sales by the Hour

Let’s break it down by the clock. Sales patterns show that different products peak at different times. Non-beer alcoholic beverages peak later in the day, while food sales hit their stride around midday and again in the evening. Knowing these trends can help breweries optimize staffing and promotions to match peak times and drive additional business.

Merchandise sales, though trending downward as a whole, peak between 2 and 4 PM. Breweries might want to focus their merch promotions during these golden hours. Maybe offer some fun incentives for both staff and customers to boost those sales, and send customers home happy with something tangible from their favorite brewery.

Service Models and the Customer Experience

Here’s a nugget for future exploration: Service models. The top-performing breweries might be onto something with their service styles. Whether it’s mobile point-of-sale systems, QR codes, or just giving customers more ways to order, reducing friction seems to be key. Making it easy for people to get their food and drinks can seriously elevate the customer experience, and let even a smaller staff manage more customers than ever before. 

And remember, the more ways that customers can order from your business, the more opportunities there are to add just a little more to that average ticket size. Flexibility can make all the difference between a customer sticking around for just one more beer, or heading home early.

Looking Ahead: More Than Just Beer

As we look forward, it’s clear that breweries need to think beyond just beer. Creating a welcoming atmosphere, offering top-notch service, and providing a variety of options can set a brewery apart. Non-alcoholic options are also becoming more important as consumer preferences shift, and food is quickly becoming a necessity instead of just another option

In a nutshell, the path to success in the brewery world involves constant reinvention and adaptation. By learning from the top performers, other breweries can find their own ways to thrive. Whether it’s ramping up food offerings, tweaking service models, or creative pricing strategies, there’s plenty of room to grow and to innovate. Cheers to that!

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