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Ideas for the Hardywood tasting room?

on Tue, 05/24/2011 - 9:53pm

As we're in the midst of designing and building out our tasting room to make it more enjoyable for visitors, we're trying to carefully consider what it could become from a functional standpoint.  It's a 1,000 square foot space right at the entrance of our building - initially it was a pretty sterile space with grey vinyl floors, white walls, a red desk, and bright flourescent lights.  We'd like to make it an ideal tasting room and would love some suggestions from Richmonders on what you'd like!  Here are some of our guidelines and questions.

First, we want to create a great environment for sampling and collecting feedback on our beers (particularly new beers we'll brew on the pilot system).  We'd also like to sell beer to go - primarily in growlers and bottles, and of course, some Hardywood gear - tee shirts, hats, openers, and such.

Next, a number of you have suggested you're planning to ride your bikes to the brewery - that's awesome!  In respose, we just ordered a recycled bike rack.  How can we encourage a lot of people to ride their bikes to the brewery?  Should we sell growler carriers for bikes?  Any suggestions on where to get one made or customized?  What other gear should we sell besides beer, shirts, and hats?  Bumper stickers, cycling jerseys, fancy insulated stainless growlers, patches, etc.??  Other cool "gear" ideas?  What else would interest you? How often should we be open?  During what hours?  How many beers would you like us to offer?  What tour schedule should we plan - weekly/bi-weekly?  If so, when is the best time?

What about set-up?  Should we keep the room wide-open?  Tables and chairs?  More casual - sofas and armchairs?  Would a window or glass door overlooking the brewery be appreciated?

Beer education is really important to us, and we've got a ton of books, educational materials, and an eagerness to put ourselves, our beer savvy colleagues, and fellow brewers who travel to (or live in) Richmond in front of people who are interested in learning more about the exciting world of beer.  Would Richmonders be interested in attending educational sessions?  If so, what subjects would be most interesting?  Beer and food, cooking with beer, beer history, brewing process, beer styles?  Depending on the time/energy/resources put into the classes, would people pay to participate?

What about a name?  Simply "tasting room" or "beer library" or "beer sanctuary" or something along those lines?  Other ideas?

We've been really grateful for the great feedback we've received in our earlier forum posts - please keep it coming!!