Developing a Profitable Beer Program
By Doug Radkey – 07/28/2017
You could try and make everyone happy by offering hundreds of beers at your bar, but for many, that’s likely not going to happen due to space restraints.
A bar needs to carefully consider their beer program and offer one that is balanced, targeted, and one that fits their concept to maximize its potential.
A great beer program should have the same respect as a carefully drafted wine or cocktail program. Don’t build a beer program based solely on the recommendations of a brewery sales representative.
Outside of advanced bar design, adequate refrigeration, and proper draught lines etc., here are some helpful tips for you to consider, when designing a new or revised beer program.
Assuming you know the targeted demographics of your bar and the hyper-local area surrounding your bar, you first need to develop a program that speaks to them and your concept.
- Is the beer intended to compliment a meal or simply promote a refreshing, good time?
- What are the age brackets, income levels, and number of men vs. women?
- How long are your guests intended to stay?
There is a difference between a sports bar and a neighbourhood pub or a bar & grill. Knowing this data will help determine the next steps.
Craft vs. Big Brand
Once you know the above, you can then focus on styles and not necessarily brand names. We can all agree that the craft beer ‘movement’ isn’t going anywhere, but don’t just create a craft beer program because everyone else is. Know the market, know your customers, know your flavour profiles, and create a mix of known brand names and local craft beers, with the right balance of styles.
As it’s noted, focus on styles and flavour profiles. If you have an excellent food program (let’s hope you do), you can effectively pair beer with your food menu just as you would with wine and cocktails to create a full sensory experience. You can also step up your beer program by offering seasonal beers that rotate while keeping your program fresh and exciting. If each beer program has at least one of the following, there should be enough options for proper pairings; Pilsner, Amber, IPA, Farmhouse, Wheat, Pale Ale, and Stout.
When it’s time to choose your preferred breweries for the beer program, remember that quality must be kept top priority. Not only in taste, but the breweries customer service and delivery logistics. This is especially important with craft beers and how quickly they’re emerging. Visit the brewery and have a tour while you discuss their product, their recall program, delivery schedules, pricing, and emergency calls (example, you’ve ran out of beer before the next delivery).
Once that is all solidified, all of the service staff and bartenders need to be educated on each of the beers. They should know the beers history, ingredients, flavour profile, and correct pouring methods and its required glassware. This will go a long way in the overall guest experience and up-selling of the product.