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Common Traits of High-Volume Breweries

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Justin GuinnAuthor

The one common trait amongst all breweries is beer. Aside from that, brewery businesses can vary wildly between offering a full food menu, being a hot spot for live music, offering merch and selling it online, and more.

The same variations can apply to brewery operation technology stacks. Most breweries are using software these days to assist with the actual brewing process, but what about the customer and business operations side? 

There are tons of tools that can help make brewery staff more efficient while also helping improve guest experiences.

Toast is the point-of-sale system (POS) built for your operation. To better understand all the factors that can help breweries succeed, we analyzed commonalities of high-volume breweries1 that use the Toast POS platform.

In this article, you will learn about common traits of high-volume breweries that use Toast POS — including tactics to increase sales as well as strategic tech adoption.

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How to run a brewery successfully

According to the Brewers Association, brewpubs, taprooms, and microbreweries grew from 2021 to 2022. There’s tons of competition out there for on-site brewing sales — which means it’s essential to differentiate your operation to attract customers and keep them coming back.

Good beer is a prerequisite. While yours is probably all delicious, what if the brewery's next door is too? When great beer is table stakes, how can you capture and retain a consistent customer base?

Successful on-site brewery operations are more than their beer. They offer great guest experience in a way that encourages increased sales, manages labor hours, and promotes greater profitability. Successful breweries engage guests across various sales channels to try and stay top of mind and help drive demand.

These brewery operations may have any number of strategic and tactical tricks up their sleeves. Rather than speculate, let’s look at what a collection of the highest-volume SMB breweries that use Toast POS are doing.

Common traits of high-volume breweries that use Toast POS

As you think about starting a brewery or optimizing your current brewery, here are some operational and tech-focused commonalities we see from high-volume breweries on the Toast platform.

1. All breweries we analyzed use point-of-sale systems and maintain active websites

Along with using Toast POS, all of the breweries analyzed have an updated website.

As we state in Toast’s guide to setting up a brewery website:

Websites can do a lot more than just deliver information to customers. It’s a digital destination for people to discover your brewery. A website can help expose your brewery to new customers, wholesalers, and exciting opportunities — all things that help make a website an invaluable asset to your business.

2. Most breweries we analyzed sell takeaway beers onsite

Selling beers to-go is a tactic that 96% of breweries we analyzed are employing.

Selling beers to-go can be a great source of additional revenue for your brewery. Operators should consider how to best sell takeaway beer — options include typical prefilled cans and bottles as well as growlers and crowlers poured at purchase.

While every state does allow breweries to sell their beers to-go in some capacity, it’s important to confirm that your permits allow you to sell retail beer for off-premise consumption.

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3. Most breweries we analyzed provide some form of food for guests

While they may try, guests can’t live on beer alone — especially those guests that aren’t imbibing. That’s why it’s essential for breweries to have some sort of food offering for guests.

High-volume Toast breweries seem to agree — 96% offer some form of food — whether it’s a full in-house menu, limited snacks menu, or via food trucks. Offering food at your brewery can be a great way to get folks to hang around longer rather than having them leave to grab a bite to eat elsewhere.

Toast’s Online Ordering is another commonality that exists between those breweries managing food in-house, as 82% of Toast breweries with a full menu are using Toast’s Online Ordering.

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4. Most breweries we analyzed have implemented handheld point-of-sale systems

Handheld POS systems are popular amongst the high-volume breweries we analyzed, as 96% use Toast Go® handhelds to run their operation.

The combination of Toast Go® handheld POS devices and Mobile Order & Pay can help unlock a New Steps of Service for your brewery. It’s a service model that enables guests to take the reins with ordering and paying their tab — while your servers and bartenders are able to spend more time on the floor with customers, as they have a POS on their hip.

5. Most breweries we analyzed regularly use social media

Social media can be a great way to reach more guests while staying engaged with past ones. 

Hence, we see 92% of high-volume breweries analyzed are posting regularly on at least one social media platform — while 79% are posting on at least two.

Maintaining an engaging and compelling social media marketing program may seem daunting. One tactic that may help ground your program is to make it about people — you, your staff, your customers, and the community at large.

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6. Many breweries we analyzed provide gift cards to help drive demand and bring back loyal customers

With 88% of breweries using the Toast Gift Cards program, gift cards are a popular tactic to boost sales and generate repeat business.

While gift cards can provide value year-round, our restaurant gift card guide highlights the seasonal nature of gift cards, which demographics are buying gift cards, and tactics for increasing gift card sales.

And keep in mind that gift cards can also work in multiple ways. We’ve seen breweries in the past that have used Toast offer quarterly gift card stipends to employees.

7. Many breweries we analyzed sell brand merchandise — in-house and online

Great brewery branding can help leave a lasting image for past and prospective guests. It can also look great on hats, t-shirts, glasses, and other merchandise — which may be why 88% of the high-volume breweries we analyzed are selling merchandise.

And of those breweries that offer merch, 86% of them are selling it online in some capacity. Similar to gift cards, an online merchandise channel can be a great always-on channel to help lift revenue.

8. Many breweries we analyzed are consistently hosting live music and other weekly events

Breweries typically require a lot of open space for the actual brewing process to operate undisturbed — but most breweries aren’t brewing beer 24/7. So what to do with the empty space?

Breweries can put their abundant space to work by hosting live music, comedy, trivia, and other events. This is precisely what the high-volume breweries we analyzed are doing, as 83% of them are hosting a combination of these events on a weekly basis.

9. A majority of the breweries we analyzed allow private events to rent some or all of their space

Whether monetizing empty space or providing exclusivity to the entire brewery space, 72% of the high-volume breweries we analyzed offer private events at their brewery.

Private events can be appealing, as brewery operators get to set their prices for renting out the space. If your operation averages $5,000 in sales on a Friday evening, you can charge near there to secure the space. From there, you can offer specials on beer and food. 

The food is where private events can become especially appealing to breweries. Catering is another sales component where you get to name your price, allowing you to know what your margins should be for the effort — and it may be worth bringing on a specialized catering and events tool to help manage inquiries, set calendars, send invoices, and receive payments.

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10. Most of the breweries we analyzed are capitalizing on guest engagement tools to foster demand and generate retention

A majority of the high-volume breweries we analyzed are using both email marketing (58%) and customer retention tools (54%) via Toast guest engagement tools.

Email marketing tools can help simplify powerful brewery marketing tactics, such as hosted events, campaign marketing, local partnerships, and more.

Loyalty programs can also incentivize guests to return again and often to your brewery — while also providing a reason for outreach so that you keep them engaged with your brand.

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Priming your brewery operation for sustainable success

Hopefully, these common traits of high-volume breweries have sparked some ideas of your own. It’s important to state that none of these tactics or technologies are guaranteed to help your operation — though they can all be a jumping-off point from which you can create or optimize your own brewery business plan.

And if you’re ever ready for a strategic investment in technology designed specifically for your brewery, Toast is here to help.


1 Methodology: High-volume breweries in this context were calculated based on the quantity of annual gross purchase volume (GPV) transactions at the time of analysis for businesses classified as “SMB” and “brewery” in Toast’s system as of Q3 2023. Additional data was gathered from the websites and social media accounts of the high-volume breweries we analyzed.

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DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only, and publication does not constitute an endorsement. Toast does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained within this content. Toast does not guarantee you will achieve any specific results if you follow any advice herein. It may be advisable for you to consult with a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor for advice specific to your situation.