But running a tight ship in the cellar can also have a major bearing on a business’s bottom line.
Cellar management experts contacted by SLTN say the cellar is one of the key areas in which operators can make savings while simultaneously improving the quality of their product.
Steve Lakin of Innserve said best practice in the cellar can have a knock-on effect for the business as a whole.
“With consumer spending under continued pressure, when people spend they want the best value and quality for their hard-earned cash,” said Lakin,
“Effective cellar management is a key ingredient to serving a great pint, alongside great customer service.”
Keg as well as cask brands should be treated as food products.
Lakin highlighted the twin benefits of good cellar management – reducing waste and improving quality –suggesting operators should ensure all staff are knowledgeable about best practice in the cellar.
“Training all staff in cellar management and beer dispense will add value to your business through improved customer retention and satisfaction, while reducing wastage,” said Lakin.
“Awareness in Scotland is good, but in these straightened times, licensees are sometimes making bad judgement calls, like only cleaning beer lines every two weeks; this will have a huge impact on the beer they serve and lead to the loss of custom and higher levels of wastage.”
A clear schedule of cellar maintenance should be a staple of any outlet, according to Lakin, who highlighted routine as “very important”, particularly when it comes to beer lines.
“All lines and cellar cleaning should be completed on the same day each week, this ensures line cleaning doesn’t slip beyond every seven days,” he said.
“The day before your delivery is due is usually best as your cellar will be at its lowest stock point and make it easier to clean.”
Steve Comerford of BeerTech agreed, describing the condition of beer lines as the “single most important part of cellar management”.
“There are many other aspects of this that follow, but if the primary product for the site is of poor quality, then the resultant lack of custom will render the other areas irrelevant,” said Comerford.
Staff attitudes towards cellar management can also have an impact on quality, according to Lakin, who said all employees should have an understanding of the hygiene standards required.
“Keg as well as cask brands should be treated as food products; think how you look after your kitchen and apply the same standards to your cellar,” he said.
Temperature is another important factor to consider, according to Michael Cosham of UK Cellar Cooling, who said a cellar should be kept between 11°C and 13°C.
“Cellar cooling is essential for the correct dispense of beer, especially so for cask ales which sometimes have no secondary cooling applied,” he said.
The arguments for higher cellar management standards are not falling on deaf ears, however.
Carl Goode, marketing manager for industrial gas supplier BOC Sureserve, said a growing number of operators appreciate the importance of good cellar management.
“In recent years quality has moved from being just an issue for the brewer to one that concerns all landlords,” said Goode.
“The whole dispense process needs to work seamlessly and produce a consistent product – the way a beer is pulled; the type of glass, nucleated and shaped so the carbon dioxide gas breaks out of a lager in exactly the right way; the way it is presented to the customer with the right head, at the right temperature, and with the right clarity and drinker appeal.”
Goode also highlighted the importance of safety in the cellar, advising operators to check that gas cylinder labels carry all the necessary information: size, quality standard, nominal weight, nominal pressure, safety advice, dangerous goods information and suppliers contact details including emergency telephone number. He also warned against over-stocking CO2 cylinders in the cellar.
“Too many cylinders will compromise space in the cellar and if not properly secured can be a tripping hazard,” he said.
“Keep only the amount of cylinders suitable for your business needs.”
Well maintained gas equipment should not require routine replacement.
The good news for publicans looking to cut costs is that, according to Goode, gas equipment should not be a regular purchase provided operators exercise due care with their cellar maintenance.
“The dispense gas equipment in the cellar should not require routine replacement,” he added.
“We would only recommend changing equipment due to an increase or change in demand.
“There may be a better dispense solution available for a changing business. It is critical, however, to ensure that your supplier has arrangements in place to maintain the equipment and a plan to conduct Written Scheme Examinations (WSE) when required.”
Image – Specialists contacted by SLTN saw cellar management as a key component in ensuring a quality serve that would boost customer retention.