When you think of a brewpub, the first thing you might envision is a microbrewery such as Devil’s Backbone, so first I will clear up that misconception. In sum, a microbrewery is simply the location at which the beer is produced, whereas a brewpub is an on-site restaurant where the microbrewery can sell directly to customers. Some states impose a three-tiered system under which the brewpub business model is prohibited. In those states, breweries must first sell to a wholesaler who then distributes to retailers such as bars or grocery stores.
The graph below exhibits the growth of microbreweries as compared to brewpubs across the US from 2007 to 2014. As you can see by the contrast in growth, the brewpub business model is not growing nearly as rapidly as pure microbreweries. A brewpub forces you to incur the costs of both a restaurant and a brewery, which is often too high for a smaller microbrewery to handle. However, as of late brewpubs are popping up more frequently and for good reason. Brewpubs allow microbreweries to market their less popular craft beer to new customers who may not want to make a trip to a brewery just to try a beer. Additionally, brewpubs allow breweries to inject some of their own identity in a restaurant that will attract more customers. It is safe to say that once more states lift their three-tiered regulatory systems brewpubs will be much more popular across the country.