Whether you run a brew pub, a sports bar or a restaurant with a bar in it, it is likely that you offer a selection of beer on tap or in bottles. Some restaurants experience the majority of their sales volume in beer sales, although beer may not be as profitable as well drinks or specialty cocktails. Learn how you can reap the most profit and repeat business from your beer sales with the following tips and suggestions.
1. Offer a Variety
These days, there are so many different types of beers out there that offering a variety should be easy to do. 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. »Learn How to Create a Restaurant Concept
- Cater to your clientele 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 establishment expecting to buy a bottle or two of your finest imports—and you need to know what to offer. » What is Target Marketing?
- Change with the seasons. 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 bottles of wheat beers and pilsners.
- Offer something new. 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.
2. Set Up a Working Draft System
Some operators have a stigma against serving beer on tap. To them, it may not be the biggest seller, or operators may find that they are experiencing draft system issues affecting quality or cleanliness. They may find that the only time they are able to sell beer on tap is during low-priced happy hour specials. For bar operators 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 do the following:
- Choose 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. »Create a Successful Draft Beer Program
- Keep the beer lines clean.
Make sure to regularly and properly clean and maintain your draft system to prevent bacteria growth that can adversely affect quality and sales.
- Use the right gasses and pressure.
Using the wrong gas blend to propel beer from your kegs can ruin the taste of a beer, while the incorrect pressure can cause a 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.
3. Serve at Proper Temperatures
Beer connoisseurs know that the temperature of a beer can vastly affect the overall taste and experience for your 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.
Lagers, pilsners and wheat beers are best served well-chilled, between 45-50°F
- Ales, Stouts and IPA's are best served between 50-55°F, around cellar temperature.
- Strong, dark ales are best served at room temperature, between 55-60°F
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 situation. 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; stay within the above guidelines for the best results for your beer, your customers and your business.
4. 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 your most profitable beers 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 giving yourself the opportunity to make a higher profit on beers that provoke curiosity.
Group your taps together.
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.
5. 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.
Many bar operators make the majority of their profits on beer, simply because of the volume of beer sales they do. If you have more beer drinkers, you will likely make more money off beer than off well drinks. Even if you sell a lot of beers during happy hour or similar promotions, you can make a good profit if you have enough people buying.
Check out the competition.
Learn about what restaurants and bars near you are charging for their drinks before you settle on a price for yours. >> How to Gauge Your Restaurant's Competition
Keep your cost low.
Beer, like other alcohol, is known for having a low beverage cost, and 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. You can charge more for more expensive beers, of course.
Tailor your prices to your clientele.
It is important to price your beer at a level your customers are willing to pay, but do not be afraid to raise your prices if your ambience, service-style and overall perceived value allow for it.
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.
More from Five Tips for Making the Most of Your Beer Sales...
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- Serving Organic Wine in Your Bar or Restaurant
- Hosting a Wine Tasting at Your Bar or Restaurant
- How to Host a Cocktail Party
- Easy Cocktail Recipes
- Basic Types of Beer
- Creating a Successful Draft Beer Program in Your Bar or Restaurant
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