Building the Ideal Beer List: How to attract a beer drinker…
Welcome to the dawn of a brand brew horizon…
There’s a unique shift in today’s beer drinking culture that has migrated away from simple offerings, limited style selections and flavorless taps. Chances are, they have already researched your beer list too. Today’s beer drinker carries a sophisticated pallet, lust for explosive flavor and passion to try as many “new beers” as they possibly can. You can usually spot them in a crowd: shaggy beard, vintage glasses, swirling and sniffing before swishing each taste around their mouth… a true connoisseur of the craft.
Let’s take a look at what restaurants can do with this new crowd to build the ideal beer list and – more importantly – what that could mean to the bottom line.
The Golden Rule for building the ideal beer list is to understand who is drinking your beer!
If we take a step back and truly evaluate the beer drinker, there are only three “types” that encompass a bulk of the beer drinking population: the “casual” drinker, the “craft” drinker and the “beer geek.” Building your beer list to entice each group is the balance you need to keep them coming back, not only for another round but for another visit. Let’s profile these beer drinkers:
- The Casual Drinker - enjoys the cold lagers, pilsners, ales or lighter drinking beers (Pass them a Budweiser or Coors Light and they are golden all night…)
- The Craft Drinker – seeks hoppy, high ABV (Alcohol by Volume) beers like dank IPAs and unique flavors like malty browns, banana-clove hefeweizens or chocolate stouts.
- The Elusive Beer Geek – usually wanders in and reads every beer list before ordering (because, chances are, they have already tried it). This unique group seeks the rare and unusual taps… barrel aged sours, DIPAs / TRIPAs, funky tart-fruited ales and heavy nitro stouts.
Dividing your tap handles to accommodate all three types without stacking them to be too “casual drinker” or “beer geek” heavy is the perfect way to introduce new beers to each category while adding value to each ticket. Today’s beer drinker has no problem paying a premium to enjoy a good beer of their preferred style. By expanding their palates to new brews, you’re offering a memorable experience that resonates when they crave a good beer with their friends on a Friday happy hour excursion.
Let the flavor dictate what hits the tap… Cater your offerings to your beer drinkers!
The worst thing you can do is to put a beer on tap without first tasting it yourself (before you even order it). Beer distributors are incentivized to push certain brands out there and, understanding there is more than just the big macro-brewed beers is what will make your beer list pop. A strong suggestion is to explore like styles from different breweries that complement, expand or enlighten all three types of beer drinker. Perhaps offer a locally brewed lager beside the “usual” lager offering and suggest it to the casual drinker looking for something light and crisp.
Expanding your own beer palate will help guide you towards selecting the beers that will best fit the requirements of your beer drinkers. If you can’t keep that hoppy 7.5% west coast IPA on tap, why not offer 3 taps of different types within the same genre? Bring that tart and funky sour or crisp cider to the taps as well for the geeks (and gluten-free drinkers.) A good beer rep will offer you a wide selection of what works, so it’s up to you in selecting the right lineup that will satisfy your thirsty regulars yet appeal to those looking for something different than the bar down the street.
Never underestimate how powerful your unique beer list can be when it comes to complementing meals…
Truth is, if you have a good “first beer” experience (it’s ice cold, in a clean glass and SOOO refreshing), chances are high there will be another round ordered. If you’re anything like I am (someone who teeters between “craft drinker” and “beer geek”), you’ll have a few rounds, mixing and matching styles, types and flavors based on what you’re eating. A fruity IPA with a plate of fish tacos is about as natural as a chocolate stout with my dessert. A well balanced, diverse tap offering could be the difference between a “one and done” spot versus “hanging for a few rounds” type of environment. And don’t forget: We can hook you up with a killer tap handle menu that will be as unique as your beer list! Drop us a line and we can chat about it over a cold-cold one (or two.) Cheers!