There are a lot of people who will tell you that growing your company, and in turn, changing your business is hard. If you want to know the real truth, though, constant growth and change while trying to keep it all grounded in the existence of who you are as people, as a brand, as a family is the real difficulty.
I know that you’ve read the other “real” news outlets telling you about this expansion. Hell… if you’re a geek like me, you’ve been talking to your friends about this big rooftop expansion for quite a while now over a pint or two. But I haven’t seen enough people really digging in and discussing the story the way that I read it, yet. Before we dig in too deep, let’s take a look at the surface of it all – because it’s good.
Braxton’s Covington ‘HQ’ taproom is their home, and they’ve made that really clear. Last year they outright purchased their building, cementing in stone their intent to always call that space home, regardless of how full of tanks it might be, already.
The plan for growth now becomes focusing on experience in that taproom (in addition to labs, of course). The brewery has been looking deeply at what makes the taproom experience in Covington great, and even deeper at the places that it falls short for their fans. Space is at a prime, and more is desperately needed. Speaking specifically about rooftop space, or outdoor patio drinking space in Covington, it’s well underserved all around the neighborhood.
Braxton teamed up with local architects to put the ball in motion (Actually… we should give that a big mention, too. The brewery tapped Hub-Weber to plan the expansion. They are Covington’s oldest architecture firm… keep it local!). What they came up with was a plan that not only adds 5,000 square feet of space on the roof of the building – it also adds somewhere between 10 and 20 beer taps, and an expanded cocktail menu. Even more noticeable, you’ll see a new atmosphere to the taproom that is more open, airy and provides access via steps and elevator to the Loft (event space) and the new rooftop.
The expansion also sets up the brewing team with some new equipment that will allow them to do more, more efficiently – they’re getting even more serious with their product line (if that was possible). The real story, though is a little deeper. It’s not punctuated by new canning lines, rooftops, or open, airy taproom atmospheres. As any decent brewery will tell you, as nice as your space is – you’ve gotta tap into something deeper.
Who You Are Should Define What You Do
If I could give new (or old) breweries any advice, (not that I’m some sort of expert by any means) it would be to figure out first who you are as people, then figure out who you are as a company. Only then should you figure out what that means for everything else. What you make, how you make it, and how you present it to your fans should all come after you figure the core of your “Brand” out. I think that there are few places in Cincinnati that have this figured out better than Braxton does.
When you watch their decisions as they grow, it’s easy to see how they fall in line with the direction that the company should go.
It’s fun to watch this industry grow, and at times it seems like there are breweries that are managing a wild animal. You can see a business trying to hold the reins of growth and not let it tear them apart in the process. The art of managing that beast while directing it to fall in line with a bigger plan is beautiful when done right.
Specifically looking at this news from Braxton – $5 million dollars is a big investment that a lot of places would say isn’t the space you should be in. You can get a bigger, more open production facility up and running that will facilitate bigger numbers in coming years. But that’s not really the core of who Braxton is. It might seem a little cheesy – but that ‘Soul’ of the company is real.
The Garage. Evan. Jake. Their parents. Richard as the mentor. It’s all pieces of a very real puzzle. When you step into the Covington taproom you can feel something that you won’t get if you stepped into a Braxton production facility, and they know that.
So yes. I’m excited that they’re going to add a ‘Backyard’ to the roof, but I’m even more excited that Braxton feels the same today when I sit on that big leather couch as it did when I first plopped my butt on it in March of 2015.