Perfecting Your Pour

With the help of industry experts, we delve into the premium and craft beer category, sharing how your venue can tap into this demand and elevate the beer-drinking experience for guests.

With the premium and craft beer category continuing to grow, and consumers’ demand for a quality, and great tasting, pint following suit, it is essential that your bar stays ahead of the curve and ensures its beer offerings are up to scratch! This includes expanding and promoting your range of draught, canned and bottled beer, as well as ensuring its quality is maintained to a high standard through regular maintenance and on-point pouring.

Martyn Railton, Director of Euroboozer Limited, shares some insight into the expanding category. He says: “The premium beer and craft beer sector has been growing well over the past few years. Especially the premium beer sector, with data showing that consumers have been looking for ‘Super-Premiumisation’.”

Similar to the premium beer sector, craft beer has been another driving force in the growth of the category as a whole. Jez Galaun, Co-Founder and Managing Director at Brixton Brewery, explains the reason for this growth, explaining that: “Craft beer is now worth over £1.1 billion, and continues to grow YoY, which is +7% of where the category was pre-pandemic. This is largely due to brands like Brixton gaining greater distribution in the market, as consumers seek out recognised, trusted brands for a quality experience while at the pub.”

Aligning your venue with the growing category and consumer demand is crucial in providing a positive experience for guests, and achieving increased footfall and revenue. Martyn explains how venues expanding their beer offerings, specifically premium and craft variations, can benefit their bar financially. He says: “The demand is there. To put it simply, it just makes sense for venues to stock more premium and craft beer brands. With consumers prepared to spend more per serve on the ‘better beers’, if the same gross profits are applied, the venue will be making more cash margin per pint, than on standard beer.

John Price, Head of Marketing at KBE Drinks, agrees, advising operators to seize the opportunity and meet consumers’ demand for a quality and authentic pint: “Based on recent CGA data, operators can charge £1 more per pint for super-premium brands, when the incremental cost for the operators is on average £0.34 per pint, so driving better profit margins for you, whilst keeping your customers happy.”

Another reason to expand and embrace your beer offerings, particularly premium and craft ranges, is the wide range of consumers that they appeal to, which can further boost footfall and sales at your bar. Jez reveals the wide audience that craft beer attracts, dismissing claims of the category being limiting for venues: “The target demographic for craft beer is often thought to be quite niche. However, we are seeing that Brixton appeals to a broad audience of drinkers aged 18-45, as consumers look to elevate their drinking experience and try out brands with a purpose behind them.

“Brixton Brewery’s intentions are to be a brand that anyone can enjoy – from those who are just getting into beer to craft lovers seeking new flavours. We want to change the perception that craft beer is for a certain type of drinker, and our Coldharbour Lager and Reliance Pale Ale are two of our most popular beers for any consumer looking for an easy drinking, premium option,” he adds.

To maximise opportunity, and to ensure you are appealing to a wide range of tastes and demographic, variety in your beer offerings is essential.

Martyn mentions beer’s versatility therefore, why expanding your offerings to a wider selection is important. He says: “Lots of people think they don’t like beer based on having tried something in the past, but there are so many varying styles that I honestly believe there’s a beer for everybody.

“Having a good selection means there’s more likely to be something for everyone, to drum up excitement, but ultimately to keep people coming back,” he continues.

With so many varying styles of beer in the premium and craft sector, from bottled or canned to draught offerings, it can often be overwhelming trying to curate the perfect range for your venue. So, how do you strike a balance? Well, it really depends on your venue – its size, the bar’s tone and audience.

While draught beer can be deemed as the more authentic beer drinking experience, bottled and canned beers can be employed in your fridges to effectively expand your range, capitalise on consumers’ demand and maximise space. Martyn explains: “With packaged beer, you can really offer an excellent range without needing the throughput that you would have to have if it was served on draught, so there is a massive role for both.

“It all comes down to conditioning and convenience, really. In some respects, you can’t beat the taste of draught beer, but that’s also because it’s so commonly associated with going out to drink beer. Cans and bottles are great for filling the gaps in the range, and ease and speed of serve, draught is great for drinking at On Trade venues, and bottles (especially brown ones) just keep beer in great condition,” Martyn adds.

Before delving into ensuring a quality and authentic draught experience for guests, are there ways you can further elevate the quality of a bottled or canned beer? Tom Wheatley, Senior Commercial Manager at Estrella Galicia, says there are, and offers advice on how to maximise the experience for guests who prefer a bottled brew.

“It is important to decant bottled beers into the right glass, at the right pace and angle, to ensure you don’t lose too much fizz and get the right head of foam to give the best aroma along with the taste of the beer,” explains Tom.

While bottled and canned beers ensure quality with little-to-no intervention, draught beer is considerably more dependent on maintenance and technique to ensure a great beer-drinking experience for guests. And while the guest experience is of utmost importance, ensuring quality in your draught offerings is essential.

Alex Radcliffe, Head of Marketing at Greene King Brewery, comments on the importance of quality in guests’ experience. He says: “Quality is also extremely important with beer, ensuring that the customer gets a perfect pint each time, as this will add to the experience of their visit, and ensure they return.

“Greene King offers expert cellar training and support for all its customers, along with 24/7 support with its online portal, Beer Genius. The online portal offers helpful videos and tips for venues to ensure they offer the best quality beer to their customers.”

Regular maintenance, line cleaning and changing is essential to provide guests a quality pour, and should not be overlooked. A poor beer system can be the difference between a good or bad pint for guests, and can be the deciding factor in their return. Moreover, an efficient and in-order beer system also provides your business benefits, including reduced wastage and costs.

Rich Stephens, Head of Technical Services, HEINEKEN UK, introduces HEINEKEN SmartDispense® as a system that can both ensure a quality pour for customers and improve efficiency for venues.

“HEINEKEN SmartDispense® is a cutting-edge draught technology solution that supports operators in delivering a consistently top-quality draught product, while being more sustainable versus traditional dispense systems. The SmartDispense® CellarPro system reduces up to 85% of water, beer and cider wastage, saves 156 line-cleaning hours and provides peace of mind for operators,” says Rich.

He continues: “SmartDispense® customers receive an ongoing six or 12-weekly proactive service and quality visit, which includes a line-cleaning service and 24-point quality check on the system, cellar and taps. This minimises breakdown calls and disruption, and frees up time for staff to focus on other duties within the venue. To make sure staff are upskilled on all elements of the perfect serve, we also provide free access to staff training platform, Hello BEER, meaning existing staff or new joiners can study anywhere, any time.”

Ensuring guests an elevated beer-drinking experience from draught offerings is something that The Steel Keg Association, a non-profit marketing organisation on a mission to shine a light on the benefits reusable steel kegs deliver, promotes to operators.

Dan Vorlage, Executive Director of Steel Keg Association, explains: “Consider the fact that today’s consumers seek unique experiences, authentic and fresh products and sustainability bona fides – these can all be found in draft beer from reusable steel kegs and casks. 

“They provide an experience consumers can’t get at home, delivering beer in the freshest way possible (the closest to how a brewer intended) and are the original reusable containers, saving billions of single-use containers from waste streams. By proudly serving fresh beer from reusable steel kegs, venues are elevating guests’ experience,” Dan adds.

With business costs increasing, from energy and water to labour costs, employing a beer system that both elevates the customer experience and saves your venue pennies can be a real benefit to your bar. Peter Robinson, UK & European Director of Operations and Sales at Drink Command, explains how their innovative beer-pouring technology can do just this!

Peter reveals how the advance taps provide guests a unique beer-drinking experience. He says: “The new self-serve beer and cocktail taps at Brigadiers allow guests to choose their beverage, pour it themselves, and pay seamlessly. The self-serve systems reduce wait times for customers, with a total interaction time of under 30 seconds, so guests can get back to having a good time without having to queue or wait on staff.”

While elevating the customer experience, the taps also benefit venues by reducing wastage and labour costs: “Drink Command’s technology ensures that every drop in a keg is paid for. The self-pour system eliminates waste and over-pouring with the use of Drink Command’s ultra-sonic flowmeters and solenoid valves. In addition, with the use of credit card and contactless payment options, transaction times are significantly reduced, as well as labour costs.

“Venues are looking to increase their margins, and implementing self-pouring systems will aid this and ultimately increase their profit,” Peter finishes.

While having a well-curated and appealing beer offering, as well as ensuring a quality serve, it is also important that your venue is promoting this and maximising on the opportunity. We speak to Andrea Sollevanti, Operations Manager at The Italian Job Pub, who shares insight on how food pairings can further elevate and promote your beer offerings.

“At The Italian Job, we consider beer and food to be inseparable companions, with each element enhancing the qualities of the other. Our menu is carefully crafted around Italian dishes, designed to harmonise seamlessly with our beer selection.

“Every dish is created to match with our drinks selection and elevate the overall dining experience, taking our customers on a culinary journey that combines the best of both worlds,” Andrea comments.

Creating food pairings that compliment your beer offerings is the perfect way to promote and further elevate the guest experience. Offering delicious and appetising eats, that can be recommended with a certain beer, invites guests that wouldn’t normally drink beer to explore the category and elevates avid beer-drinker’s experience by presenting them with something new.

In summary, expanding and embracing the premium and craft beer category is essential in meeting the growing demand for guests. While providing an elevated beer-drinking experience for customers benefits the guest, it too can offer your business benefits by boosting footfall and revenue.

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