At The Local Beet, Tom Keith talks about the return to prominence of the tap room, that is, the bar attached to the brewery or brewer store. He quotes a 2003 piece from Gapers Block to show the disrepute that the tap room (which differs from a brewpub in that it offers little in the way of food) once stood in in Chicago:
Just as no one ever enters a liquor store with anything but a cold six-pack or a bottle of wine or something harder on their mind, no one picks a tap room for a first date, or to wish a departing office colleague farewell, or to scope out members of the opposite sex. Tap rooms, even the nicest ones, are about drinking and nothing but.
A decade later, Keith sees the tap rooms sprouting up around brewers such as Half Acre and (soon) Lagunitas as having
evolved from a seedy afterthought in a down-and-dirty liquor store to a venue for local brewers to show off their best stuff... If anything, they have more in common with Napa Valley’s tasting rooms than they do with the corner bar.
It's the first of a series on how brewing and beer drinking in Chicago has changed and will change in 2012-2013. [The Local Beet]