Customers at a small local brewery might enjoy seeing how their lagers and pale ales are actually brewed. That’s what the folks behind Random Row Brewing Co. were betting on when they designed their tasting room on Preston Avenue, which opened in mid-September.
Gleaming metal tanks are a major design element in the space, which combines brewery with tasting room as seamlessly as possible. The building is a simple, concrete-floored structure that’s served many purposes over the years, mostly industrial ones. “It was a blank slate where we could come in and make our mark,” says Kipp.
One lucky break: The building has a slanted roof, so there’s a high end (handy for fitting large pieces of brewing equipment) and a low end (better for an intimate indoor biergarten). An L-shaped bar defines the brewery zone as distinct from the customer zone, but it’s not meant to act like a wall.
“We hope customers want to ask questions,” says Kipp. Putting people in touch with the brewing process is built into the architecture here. Even before entering the front door, customers can see the tanks from the street; when they do walk in, they’re hit with a heady fragrance of fresh beer ingredients being put to use just a few feet away.
Element Construction helped the brewery team on the design end. “We tried to keep a very clear, basic palette,” says Element’s Justin Walton, “[with] reclaimed wood, concrete and steel.” All the materials repeat multiple times throughout the room, and they all play a role in the bar, where beer and beer-drinkers come together. The concrete floor is echoed in the poured concrete bartop. A steel frame and cold-rolled steel panels make up the vertical section, while I-beam columns anchor the corners, just like the ones that hold up the roof.
And, in homage to the property’s history as the King Lumber Company, reclaimed wood is used for benches, wall panels, trim and furniture. Log slices from enormous trees top coffee tables. They’re a play on the brewery’s logo, which is rendered with another log slice above the front door.
Lighting works to delineate different zones: barn lights over the tables, single-bulb pendant lights (like stars against the dark-blue “sky” of the ceiling) over the biergarten and spotlights on the brew tanks to show them at their best.
The Random Row folks are mostly parents of young kids, and wanted to create a family-friendly destination. “I have three boys, and a sit-down restaurant is a nonstarter for us,” says Kipp. Here, kids can move about, play cornhole or make art on the huge chalkboard wall across from the bar.
Along with tasty beverages, the building is meant to draw people in. “We wanted to make this inviting and educational,” Kipp says.