THE power to deliver a great tasting pint – it’s one of the few lasting advantages pubs have over the off-trade.
It’s also one that’s arguably been pursued more intensely by operators since the economic downturn put pressure on margins and caused them to battle harder than ever to keep customers coming through the door.
Yet the art of serving a quality pint rests on many variables, as Carl Goode, marketing manager at dispense gas supplier BOC Sureserve, explained to SLTN.
“A number of factors impact on the taste and quality of beverages, for instance, there is the way a beer is pulled,” he said.
“The type of glass, how it is nucleated and shaped is vital in making the carbon dioxide gas break out of a lager in exactly the right way.
“Then it has to be presented to the customer with the right head, at the right temperature, and with the right clarity and drinker appeal.
“BOC Sureserve fits into this equation too, as all these elements can stand or fall on the quality and type of the carbonating and nitrogenating gas used. The quality of the gas is an obvious consideration – if there are impurities in the gas there could be an impact on the taste and quality of the drink presented to the customer – and you should always use food grade dispense gases.
“Always use the correct type of gas to dispense your products. The different dispense gas mixtures available can have an effect both on the taste and the presentation of the drink.”
Bar owners with a draught offer should approach the subject from the drinker’s perspective, according to Edward Theakston, who provides cellar management training to Scottish & Newcastle Pub Company lessees in Scotland. And they should ask themsleves some searching questions.
“As a landlord you should be brutally honest with yourself,” Theakston said.
“Do the taps pour to the breweries’ correct specification? Do the taps on your bar work properly or do you struggle to pour a pint? Are your glasses clean?
“If the answer is no to any of the above your beer won’t perform. It should be bright and clear and in striklingly clean glasses.
“Make sure you know how to serve the perfect pint and work back.
“Ongoing temperature monitoring, maintaining equipment and keeping the cellar clean are all part of the mix, but they are part of a bigger picture which goes beyond the cellar itself.”
While outlets can build a reputation around the quality and presentation of their draught beer (a branded glass and a proper head are also a vital part of the package), those who fail to look after their cellar are likely to see business suffer.
“With many people nowadays hard-pressed for cash and more choosy [about] how and where to serve it, operators need to stand out amongst competing venues by being able to serve a top quality pint of draught beer,” said a spokesman for iDraught, a bar and cellar management system said to give operators a “window on every part of the draught beer journey”.
“If the quality of a pub or bar’s draught product is poor or inconsistent, many consumers will choose to drink elsewhere, potentially costing an operator thousands of pounds in lost revenue.
“The key to serving a great tasting pint is to pay closer attention to a bar’s ‘engine room’ – the bar and cellar operation.
“Too many operators are still choosing to neglect this crucial part of their business, but by cutting a few corners in order to try and save a few pennies, operators will end up losing a lot more than they can afford.”
It’s for this reason that InnServe, the drinks dispense solutions provider, emphasises the importance of equipping staff with cellar skills.
The company, which serves 75,000 outlets across the UK, says the benefits of staff training extend beyond serving a quality pint to improving profits, cutting waste and improving yields by 3% and sales by 7%.
“Serving good quality beer is becoming increasingly important, particularly as pubs try harder than ever to encourage customers to leave their armchair and head down to their local pub,” said Steve Lakin, business support manager at Innserve.
“We want to help licensees achieve this, which is why we offer training packages like our InnSitu package.”
Innserve is currently on the hunt for the UK’s top draught beer operators – the closing date for entries for this year’s Best Cellar Awards, which offer a range of national, regional and newcomer prizes, is on May 25.