Technology is helping operators deliver more consistent pints, but there is still room for improvement
AS consumers continue to monitor their spending, it has arguably never been more important for outlets to offer quality and value for money.
Key to this is the ability to serve drinks at a consistently high standard.
The introduction of new technologies to the bar and cellar have helped operators to raise their game in recent years, but specialists say the standard of serves across the trade is still inconsistent.
According to Carl Goode, marketing manager at dispense gas supplier BOC Sureserve, publicans need to keep several things in mind when gauging the quality of their drinks.
“A number of factors impact on the taste and quality of beverages,” said Goode.
“For instance, there is the way a beer is pulled. The type of glass, and 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.”
Cleaning beer lines regularly is another must, said cellar management specialist Edward Theakston, who works with S&N Pub Company.
“The importance of line cleaning cannot be overstated,” he said. “If it is not done properly, customers will notice the decline in beer quality and just simply leave the pub. The issue is that the decline in beer quality is not overnight, but over a period of weeks or months. It is difficult to notice the difference from one week to the next, but over a couple of months there will be a marked difference.”
Although many outlets across Scotland are addressing these issues, it’s said there are still too many failing to deliver high quality drinks.
“The diversity and range of drinks available has never been better,” said Steven Alton, managing director of dispense specialist iDraught.
“The condition in which they reach the customer is hugely varied, and for every beautifully-kept pint of cask ale or perfectly-served cocktail, there is another that is not up to scratch.”
Alton added that the best operators tend to be those who have invested in technology as well as staff training.
“It is utterly crucial for a business to be known for the quality of products, and the care that an outlet takes in serving those products,” he said.
“It is one of the reasons that people go to a particular pub or bar. Obviously equipment and technology plays its part but the most important thing is the leadership within that outlet, and the standards that are set by that leader.”
It’s not just consumers who are tightening their belts at the moment, of course, and some publicans could see investment in technology as an unnecessary expense in a difficult climate.
However, Robert Morrall, managing director of business consultancy Route, argued that it is quite the opposite.
“Against such a turbulent economic backdrop, any operator concerned with improving their cellar management has two things in mind: saving time and saving money,” he said.
“The good news is that evolving technologies have created the potential to do both, to such an extent that it can have a dramatic impact on business operations and bottom line savings.”
Morrall pointed to increasingly efficient cellar coolant systems as an example of technology that can save an outlet money over the long term.
Images: Offering premium quality drinks is a necessity in the current climate, say dispense specialists. Unsatisfied customers will go elsewhere. IDraught MD Steve Alton said too many operators are failing to offer high quality products. But technology can help make the difference, he said.