In a word, yes. I have visited several dozen brewpubs in seven states and am beginning to tire of the same old, same old format of restored historic building, wood floors, big screen TVs, brick walls, lots of noise, standard pub fare, gift shop, and dim lights. Don’t get me wrong – I like most of these individual features, but there has to be a limit on how many places can resemble one another before the general public rebels. I for one, like uniqueness and see standardization as a threat to future growth – no way do I want to see brewpubs become McDonaldized across the landscape. It is the individuality of the craft brewers that sets it apart from the industry giants. When the “theme” gets too standardized (or commonplace), the uniqueness dies and so will the boom in craft brewing.
There is nothing wrong with individual cities having brewpubs that feature some or all of the qualities I listed above, but must nearly every brewpub have the same characteristics?
- Why not one that features art deco or mid-century modern architecture?
- Why not one that is Jetson’s cool futuristic?
- Why not one that is stylistic?
- Why not one that is colonial or Old West?
Must all brewpubs been a carbon copy of one another? The most impressive brewpubs to me have a subtle theme, but not overly so like a Disney park can be. Both the Mitten Brewing Company (Tigers baseball) and Brewery Vivant (European) in Grand Rapids do a nice job of distinguishing themselves from the pack in this manner. That said, they still incorporate many of the repetitive characteristics noted in the first paragraph.
Just some words of caution mull over while sipping a tasty pint of summer brew at your local hangout.