This will always be a difficult one to conclude especially when describing it to a beer civilian after all we are essentially looking at two bars within a chain…aren’t we? You would anticipate that walking into a Brewdog bar would be the same wherever you are, however, what they have maintained is their individuality.
The context of each is obvious to see. Shoreditch located in the self-professed hipster area of East London and Norwich within the city of ale and a pub on every corner.
Walking into the Shoreditch bar after passing along the stretch of window which gives full view of the bar itself my eye was caught by the large coolers holding the in house range plus guests. If you are not able to have your fill then there’s always the take out! Coming out of the wall on the left is the bar and on the right American diner style booths. As always the lists of the current offerings hang above the bar which in this case is almost bigger than the bar which is where my first comparison starts. At Norwich you are presented with a long substantial bar with taps along the wall whereas at its counterpart fonts separate the bar staff from the punters…perhaps that’s an East London defence method! But size can’t be the only criteria and in any case Shoreditch comes up trumps with a downstairs bar albeit with an edited version of the beer list upstairs. So they seem to be sizing up so far.
Food is available in both with Norwich providing a an area with tables which seems to lend itself to eating although games were being played around me quite skilfully despite the thirst quenching going on. If food is your thing then Norwich may be nudging ahead.
This is where we start getting down to the bare bones. What really discerns these two bars?..the customer experience. Yes, the very thing which fills Operations Directors, Marketing Departments and bar Managers with dread. That often intangible element which marketers love to use but companies fail to live up to. Sounds dramatic but it actually comes down to two simple things: the bar service and the bogs! Here is where Shoreditch manages to get one up on Norwich which is perhaps down to experience. Norwich is the baby opening this year against the elder four years ago. Bar service is critical to the punter. Nobody likes to wait too long and definitely not feel as if they have been ignored. Despite the length of bar available Shoreditch operates well with staff darting behind each other eager to serve working as a team. It is simplicity itself.
Now I’ve thrown that grenade in I’ll walk away and let them fight it out! Don’t rely on my criteria. Go visit them yourself!
If you are wondering where I sit with Brewdog bars? I love them. Jet Black Heart all day long!
51-55 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA
1 Queen Street, Norwich, NR2 4SG