In the world of beer, there are a number of different establishments where beer enthusiasts can sample the goods. Some may visit bars or beer gardens which keep a substantial number of different brews on tap or in bottles. Others may frequent a local microbrewery or craft brewery, where trained brewmasters make small batches of fresh beers for in-house consumption or limited commercial distribution. One alternative that is growing in popularity, however, is known as a brewpub.
A brewpub combines the efforts of a microbrewery or craft brewery with the concept of a traditional English pub or "public house." Brewmasters work within the confines of a pub-style restaurant in order to provide customers with unique beers on tap. Restaurant owners provide traditional pub grub or regional favorites to accompany the beer samplings.
It can be challenging to distinguish a true brewpub from a local microbrewery, but many times the name of the establishment will provide clues. A typical brewpub might call itself "John Barleycorn's" or "Hopper's Pub," or else it will advertise itself directly as "Maggie's Olde Towne Brew Pub." Local microbreweries may also offer pub grub or a limited food menu, or they may simply lease space to a separate restaurant operation.
Most brewpubs must adhere to laws which limit the total ratio of beer sales to food sales. A brewpub cannot be considered a bar or beer garden which offers a limited amount of food or limits the restaurant's hours of operation. It must operate as a public restaurant which happens to offer a wide selection of microbrewed beers. Bars and other drinking establishments without food service must obtain a different type of operating license than restaurants which serve alcohol to customers.
Brewpubs can be found in a number of countries in Europe, especially those with a rich tradition of craft breweries and other local beer brewing operations. Brewpubs are not as common in the United States, but their numbers have grown in recent years. Brewpub owners tend to locate in upscale sections of larger cities in order to attract a customer base willing to try alternative or microbrewed beer varieties along with an eclectic food menu.