Training paramount at award-winning outlet. Dave Hunter reports
CONSUMERS are demanding more when it comes to beer.
That’s the view of Dennis Forsyth, owner of Cheers Cafe, Bar & Tavern in Fraserburgh – winner of the 2012 SLTN Beer Quality Award, in association with Tennent’s Lager – who reckons people’s expectations of beer quality – and their level of knowledge – have risen dramatically in the last few years.
It means the pressure is on licensees to up their game, he said.
“Over the last two or three years customers have become a lot more switched on to what is a quality pint,” said Dennis.
“They expect the effervescence to be there. They expect the foam on the head to go slowly down, leaving the ring marks. If they don’t get their lager in a proper glass there’s a frown.
“Customers are far more knowledgeable and I don’t think a lot of licensed premises are aware of just how much more knowledgeable they are.”
Dennis has steadily built a reputation for beer quality at Cheers since he bought the pub out of receivership in 2005.
He has expanded the draught range to include Tennent’s Lager, Budweiser, Stella Artois, Cobra and Carling, as well as Guinness, Caledonia Best and two guest ales.
The venue, which comprises a bar and restaurant with accommodation, function room and 300-capacity outside area with its own bar, has also been altered with beer quality in mind.
In 2011 a high-spec beer cellar was built, which was backed up by an increased focus on staff training, including Cask Marque’s Bar Excellence and Cellar Management programmes. Currently, Cheers employs 14 staff who have gone through one or both of the courses.
Dennis hasn’t stopped there, however. Every Friday a retired cellar technician, formerly of Innserve, comes in to inspect the cellar and clean the lines.
Beer quality, said Dennis, is of “paramount” importance.
“The quality of your beer is the one consideration you’ve got to put at the top of the priority list.
“That doesn’t just include what comes from the cask or keg; the lines have got to be perfect, the beer has got to be poured in the right glasses, the staff have got to be very knowledgeable in the product.
“To get the quality you need the equipment, you need the expertise to supervise the equipment and the product, plus you need the staff training in place.
“Measurements have to be in place and we’ve really reinforced that with quite a lot of training.”
It was this level of commitment that impressed the judges of the SLTN Beer Quality Award, according to Tennent Caledonian managing director John Gilligan.
“For the Beer Quality Award Tennent’s Lager and SLTN were looking for absolute dedication to cellar management and the ability to serve an outstanding quality pint, every time,” he said.
“The attention to detail at Cheers Cafe Bar, from in-depth training to professionally maintained beer lines, ensures that every pint is of the very highest standard.
“Tennent’s Lager looks forward to raising a glass to the Cheers Cafe Bar and we wish them all the best for the future.”
Images – The bar at Cheers and the team collects the SLTN Beer Quality award.