How OPA Design Studio Makes Austin’s Elite Brewery Taprooms

Stephen Oliver does his tap dance

Imagine a time when a Texas brewery couldn’t sell its own beer to its own visiting taproom customers. There was a loophole breweries cartoonishly tiptoed through like top-hatted, waxed-moustache bootleggers in order to get their product in front of gawking tourists and local beer fans, and that was to peddle a logo souvenir glass to their visitors populated with a few “free beer fill” coupons inside. And while giving away all that liquid profit in exchange for moving a lousy $10 pint glass sounds like a super lucrative endeavor for small breweries statewide, it was joyously celebrated when the Texas legislature finally and legally allowed direct-to-customer taproom sales in 2013.

Taprooms themselves weren’t necessarily emphasized as a brewery feature before then, where the tasting room highlights entailed picnic tables scattered around the fermenting tanks with maybe a crowd puller of spent bourbon barrels decorated in 1990s vintage microbrewery cliches like dried wheat sprigs in mason jars; just a real golden age of beverage industry design. But as a result of 2013, Texas breweries began to focus on the whole customer experience, moving beyond just the quality of the beer and further into the quality of its overall taproom culture.

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