Whether you run a brew pub, a sports bar or a restaurant with a bar in it, chances are you’ve got a pretty solid beer selection. Some businesses make the majority of their profit from beer sales. However, it’s a bit more common to experience a higher profit with cocktails and liquor. If you want to up your beer sales game, then take a look at these tips. You may find that beer is the next big thing for your bar or restaurant.
Offer a Variety
The spectrum of beer styles and flavors just keeps getting broader and broader. You have seasonal ales, microbrews, tried-and-true domestics, and a wide variety of imports to choose from. Think about your bar or restaurant’s concept, your clientele and the types of brews you might want to offer to stir interest in your drink menu.
Know Your Concept
When thinking about the types of beers to put on your menu, consider your concept and any important themes. For example, if you run an English pub style bar, you would do well to offer a variety of imported beers from the UK.
Cater to Your Market
Your guests will get to know your bar based on the types of food, drinks and ambience you provide. If your target market is a group of people without much disposable income, a selection of inexpensive cans or bottles might go over well with that customer set. Likewise, if you target a clientele looking for a swanky four-star experience, they will come to your business expecting to buy a bottle or two of your finest imports—and you need to know what to offer.
Many bartenders like to change their beer menu with the seasons. In the winter, try offering a hearty stout or dark ale on tap. In the summer, update your selection with wheat beers and pilsners.
Offer New Items
Do not discount your guests’ zeal for trying something new. Try to offer a variety of well-known names as well as lesser-known beers from craft breweries. Unique beers can stir curiosity and provide a good opportunity to sell your guests on something they may have never tried before.
Set Up a Working Draft System
There are some business owners that don’t care much for draft systems. They either experience issues with the draft system or feel that draft beers only sell well during low-priced happy hours. This thought process can be detrimental to your bottom line because there are a vast number of customers who prefer draft beer.
For bar owners who do draft beer the right way, there is actually a good deal of profit to be made. In order to get the most from your draft beer sales, make sure you’ve got these steps covered.
The Right Draft System
There are a few common types of draft systems: direct-draw, air-cooled and glycol systems being the most popular. The system that works for you depends on where your coolers are located, the space you have beneath your bar and how many drafts beers you can feasibly carry.
Keep the Lines Clean
Make sure to regularly and properly clean and maintain your draft system to prevent bacteria growth that can adversely affect beer quality and sales.
Gas & Pressure Matter
Using the wrong gas blend to propel beer from your kegs can ruin the taste of a beer. The incorrect pressure can cause beer to go flat or turn excessively foamy as it nears the bottom of the barrel. Keep the gas flow regulator properly adjusted to prevent lost profits.
Serve at Proper Temperatures
Beer connoisseurs know that the temperature of a beer can vastly affect the overall taste and experience for customers. If you are selling beer on tap, it is essential that your keg refrigeration system is at the right temperature. Serving bottled beer at the right temperature is important, too. Successful bar managers maintain the proper temperatures for their beer, whether it comes from the tap or from the bottle. This table helps break down the recommended serving temperatures for various types of beer.
|Type of Beer||Recommended Serving Temperature|
|Lagers, pilsners and wheat beers||45-50°F, or well-chilled|
|Ales, stouts and IPAs||50-55°F, or cellar temperature|
|Strong, dark ales||55-60°F, or about room temperature|
Some brewmasters will get into even more detail, suggesting precise temperatures for individual beers. However, this may be difficult or impossible depending on your refrigeration system. The right temperature is also essential for draft beer systems, since the wrong temperature can adversely affect the consistency of a beer after pouring. Throwing warm, flat beer down the drain means you are losing out on beer that could have made you a profit. Don’t be that business owner.
Use Tap Space Wisely
Many bartenders find that their brews on tap get more attention than their bottled beers. Your draft system has the potential to bring in a good deal of profits—bars typically charge more for draft brews since the beer is fresher, tastier and often served with a garnish.
Put the Best Sellers on Tap
If you have several mass-market brews on tap, consider removing them and serving them in bottles only, in favor of craft beers or microbrews which you can sell at a higher price. This is a way of holding on to your old reliable brands while still keeping up with the trending brews that your customers want.
Group Your Taps
Some bars have taps across the entire expanse of the bar service area. With these set-ups, bartenders have to run from tap to tap to fill different orders. When beer towers are grouped closer together, or when there are several faucets coming from one tower, bartenders can fill multiple orders more efficiently. In the beverage business, speed and efficiency gains repeat business, resulting in greater profits.
Price Your Beer Competitively
After you have figured out the types of beers your customers want, the variety that you need to sell, how to maintain a draft and bottled beer system at the right temperatures, and how to make the most of your space, you have to price it accordingly.
If done correctly, beer sales can be one of the major profit centers of any bar operation. Draft beer, bottled beer and even canned beer afford you thousands of options to please just about any customer. When you run a good system and manage your beer program wisely, you can enjoy a hefty return on investment to keep your operation running smoothly.
Check the Competition
Learn about what restaurants and bars near you are charging for their drinks before you settle on a price for yours. Go in and have a couple brews for yourself. Check out the menu. Think about what your competition is lacking price-wise, and see if you can do better.
Keep Beer Costs Low
Beer, like other alcohol, is known for having a low beverage cost. In order to make the most profits, it is important to keep these costs as low as possible while still putting out a quality product. Don’t be afraid to charge more for beers with higher beverage costs.
Tailor Your Prices to Your Market
It is important to price your beer at a level your customers are willing to pay. But don’t hesitate to raise your prices if your ambiance, service-style and overall perceived value allow for it. As we stated earlier, if you’re an upscale, four-star establishment, your customers are going to expect to pay a little bit more.