Social Spaces: Brewpubs for the 21st Century


Despite being in the food and beverage category, brewpubs follow a much more relaxed design approach than their restaurant counterparts. In most restaurants, the space is designed to make sure that the patron and staff areas, especially the kitchen, do not intersect. In the brewery, that’s a plus! Many breweries want to highlight the production process of their creation and engage with their clientele. Glass enclosures around the brew tanks and bottling areas are designed to let the drinkers watch their brew being made and serves as part of the interactive experience that attracts many.

Keeping the design simple is not only the best way to ensure a comfortable experience, but also the ideal situation to add natural elements into the space. That said, if you’re looking for a relaxed environment to enjoy with friends, your local brewery may be the right spot! Let’s have a look at why this may be.

Brewery History

Carried over from the traditions of the English and Dutch, the pub has been a social space for New Yorkers since the first European settlers made their way to New Amsterdam. In fact, those old stories about colonists drinking more alcohol than water (there is even some evidence that the first colonists landed at Plymouth because they were running out of beer) has a basis in truth. About a century after the American Revolution there were 4,131 breweries operating per 40 million people. Compare that to 3,464 breweries in 2014 per 318 million people and you get the idea.

Brewpub: Mayflower with Speech Bubble "Just Stop Here! We Need More Beer!"

To Your Health!

Strikingly different than a loud club, the brewpub may actually be your best option to enjoy a drink with a friend. Studies have repeatedly found that loud clubs and bars lead to more anxiety prone behaviors and less meaningful socialization. Dr. Marc Galanter from the NYU Medical Center comments on the role of loud music and over-stimulation in bars, saying, “Anxiety puts [patrons] in a frame of mind where they’re distracted and not as capable of controlling their behavior and moderating their drinking.” Well, that doesn’t sound good. However, the brewery offers a healthier alternative to this situation without having to ditch leaving the house to grab a beer.

A recent study revealed that groups of men 28 to 52 years old who engaged in safe and moderate social drinking actually increased their overall mental health due to a community of sharing and open discussion. The authors of the study note in the article on Medical Daily that, “Men frequently reported increased feelings of looking out for one another, opening up as a result of laughing and joking, and feeling compelled to uplift each other in the process”.

A similar study found that “Women who reported moderate consumption of beer (once or twice per week to once or twice per month) had a 30 percent lower risk for suffering a heart attack compared to women who drank beer several times per week or didn’t drink beer at all.” The brewery is a perfect environment for offering these types of atmospheres due to its quieter and more engaging design.

Brewpub: board of health beer ad

Designing for You and Your Neighborhood

Breweries were initially designed in a humble fashion because they were typically started in garages and basements; the idea of anyone coming to drink the beer right at the source was somewhat of an afterthought. However, adapting that principle to the growing and modern brewpub is key component to offering a comfortable environment to socialize in after work and on the weekends.

Taken into perspective, breweries clearly have a lengthy and special connection with America’s history. Design experts say that adding some antique and local elements to a space helps to bridge the gap between the old and new world while providing an interesting discussion topic for patrons.

Brewpub: beer

David Owen Rozzi, Senior Associate and Design Director at HLW International, offers his expert advice on designing these spaces, “When designing a pub or a brewery, I think it’s about that authentic local feel. It’s about the neighborhood or specific region. It’s about something that is made special, specific, or unique, not mass produced. You want the materials, and interior design to reflect that. It also great if the designer can have a say in the selection of the space. It’s great to find a space that is true. We can build upon what is there, as opposed to creating something artificial and forced. I think the patron recognizes when underneath it all the space is a bit unauthentic and contrived.”

Next time you need a night out on the town, check out a local brewery. You might even learn a thing a two about your neighborhood and its history. Let us know what you see on Twitter and follow us on LinkedIn for more interesting designs, builds, and ideas.