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Crafting the Perfect Beer Menu Using style and variety to maximize the profitability and appeal of your beer list.

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Presentation on theme: "Crafting the Perfect Beer Menu Using style and variety to maximize the profitability and appeal of your beer list."— Presentation transcript:

1 Crafting the Perfect Beer Menu Using style and variety to maximize the profitability and appeal of your beer list

2 No one would think to write a food menu like this… Menu Penne alla Bolognese Linguine alla Bolognese Fettuccini alla Bolognese Maccheroni alla Bolognese Farfalle alla Bolognese Fusilli alla Bolognese Rotini alla Bolognese Strozzapreti alla Bolognese Rigatoni alla Bolognese Capellini alla Bolognese Pappardelle alla Bolognese Tagliatelle alla Bolognese

3 So why do so many beer menus look like this? Beer List American Lager American Light Lager International Lager

4 Especially when they could look like this… Beer List American LagerGerman Pilsner Hefeweizen American LagerCzech Pilsner Belgian Wheat Beer American Light LagerBockBelgian Abbey Ale American Light LagerDoppelbock Belgian Specialty Beer International LagerBritish Pale Ale American Specialty Beer American Pale AleBritish Brown Ale Barleywine American Pale AleStoutScottish Strong Ale American IPAStrong Stout Fruit Beer American Amber AleSeasonal Beer Spiced Beer

5 Or this… Beer List American Lager Hefeweizen American LagerBelgian Wheat Beer American Light LagerBelgian Abbey Ale International LagerAmerican Specialty Beer Czech Pilsner Stout American Pale AleBelgian Specialty Beer American IPAFruit Beer British Pale AleSeasonal Beer

6 Or even this? Beer List American Lager American Light Lager International Lager American Pale Ale/IPA Belgian or German Specialty Seasonal Beer

7 Key Factors in Developing a Beer List in 2009 The Long, Lingering Death of the Brand Loyalist While “one beer, one brand” consumers still exist, they are fast becoming an endangered species. Today’s beer drinker knows more than just pale lagers and light beers. “Selection” no longer means just providing a single pale ale to complement the lagers available, but stocking a true variety of brands and, most importantly, styles. Today’s beer consumer expects selection, especially in urban areas.

8 Key Factors in Developing a Beer List in 2009 Themes Count Beers are now available from all over the world, so there’s no excuse for not continuing a restaurant’s theme over to the beer list. Italian restaurants tend to feature Italian wines, and so they should also highlight Italian beers, Spanish restaurants should feature Spanish beers, and so on. As a single Chianti would not be considered “featuring Italian wines,” neither does a token beer from the theme country stand for all that nation’s beers. Use available resources to find appropriate ales and lagers, especially Internet sites such as ratebeer.com and beeradvocate.com. Often entire sites are devoted to the beers of a single particular country.

9 Key Factors in Developing a Beer List in 2009 Food Counts Increasingly, restaurant patrons are showing interest in and demonstrating knowledge of pairing beer and food. In tough economic times, a premium bottle of beer, such as a 750 ml bottle of strong Belgian ale, may be seen by the customer as an attractive alternative to a pricey bottle of wine, less costly for them than a bottle of wine and more profitable for you than a glass of wine. Take note of food and beer affinities. A steak house, for example, should offer a variety of robust, steak- friendly ales, rather than just a meager selection of pale lagers.

10 Key Factors in Developing a Beer List in 2009 Show Off Your List Few managers would be willing to rely on the memories of their servers to promote their wine lists, yet many regularly leave it to staff to recite their beer lists. Saying “We have everything” might have worked at one time, but now the market is far too broad. Avoid “ghettoizing” your beer list to a tiny corner of the back page of your wine list. It trivializes the selection and disinclines customers to take it seriously. Think of inventive ways to categorize your beers beyond country and style. “Rich and Full-Bodied” and “Light and Refreshing” instead of “Dark Ales” and “Lagers,” for example.

11 Key Factors in Developing a Beer List in 2009 Educate Your Staff Customers have a right to expect a correct answer when they ask a server if such-and-such a beer is a lager or ale. Even today, servers often react slack-jawed to even such basic queries. Servers should be schooled on every style carried, from lager to pale ale to Belgian abbey ale. For best results, equip your staff to answer questions about which beers would best compliment specific menu items. Make certain that service standards are maintained for pouring and presenting beer, just as you do for wine service.

12 In the Long Run, Crafting a Successful Beer Menu isn’t Rocket Science, just remember… Don’t underestimate your clientele, they’re likely more beer savvy than you think; Do offer tastes of draft beers for people unfamiliar with the brands; Do incorporate seasonality into your menu via “Beers of the Month,” “Rotating Specialties” or “Bartender Selections;” Don’t worry about being different from your competitors, since specific beers unavailable elsewhere will keep customers coming back for more; Do make use of available information resources – web sites, beer magazines and books – and get your staff involved; Don’t be afraid of change; and Do think of how your beer list reflects the status and reputation of your establishment.

13 Presented by Stephen Beaumont Veteran beer and drinks writer; author or co-author of six books on beer, including the forthcoming beerbistro Cookbook; creator of countless beer menus for independent restaurants and large chains, including 2009 Beverage Excellence Award Winner, ESPN Zone; co-owner of acclaimed Toronto beer cuisine restaurant, beerbistro. Reach him at


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