Some things change, some stay the same – and while the face of beer may have morphed in recent years, from the rise of craft beer to the resurgence of ale, it seems the pint persists as a big hitter for publicans.
According to figures from CGA Strategy, traditional lagers and keg ales continue to dominate in terms of beer sales in Scotland’s pubs and bars, although more and more variety is filtering into the on-trade.
And it seems the broadening range of strengths and styles available is good news for publicans.
Kathryn Purchase, customer marketing director at Carlsberg UK, said the landscape for draught products has “shifted dramatically” in recent years, with the category now attracting a broad range of drinkers.
Purchase said stocking a range of keg beers which offers enough variety is key.
“From familiar big brand draught lagers, to on-trend craft, to traditional ales – it’s important that choice is at the forefront of any venue’s offering,” said Purchase.
“Today, consumers are being offered greater choice when it comes to keg beer, and craft is playing a major role in this increasing demand for variety.”
While many customers in the on-trade might know their Saaz hops from their Amarillos, it’s not just the craft beer aficionados that offer publicans the chance to up-sell; premium world beers are also proving popular, according to Purchase.
“Alongside craft, there is also a real buzz surrounding the world beer category, as consumers are increasingly aware of beers from other markets and are eager to experiment with the different profiles on offer,” she said.
“Operators should continually monitor these trends and stock draught and bottled variants accordingly.”
Getting the range right is one thing, but even the most premium pint can leave a bad taste in the mouth if the serve isn’t up to scratch.
Brian Bagnall, operations director for Belhaven pubs, believes that of all aspects of training, “serving a consistently perfect pint is one of the most critical and that begins with impeccable cellar management”.
Sam Rhodes, director of customer marketing at Miller Brands UK, agreed that quality is key to any draught offer.
Rhodes said that to guarantee consistently good quality beer publicans must regularly clean draught lines; maintaining clean glassware is also crucial.
“Good quality, clean branded glassware is extremely important, even more so for premium beers,” said Rhodes.
“If a consumer is paying a premium, the serve and experience should reflect this. In warmer weather, consider chilling glassware to provide a cool, refreshing serve.”
Quality is crucial, but it’s of no use if the customer isn’t enticed into choosing a pint in the first place.
While Kathryn Purchase at Carlsberg UK agreed that “knowing the technicalities of serving is essential and effectively demonstrates a venue’s credibility”, she added that training staff on the profile of the beers on offer “is equally vital”.
“The entire team at a pub or bar should be able to talk knowledgeably about the range, as this will significantly impact consumer choices,” she added.
“It’s important to remember that drinkers are willing to trade up for a particularly special product, and if staff are able to confidently promote such beers it will help entice the customer into selecting something more premium – amplifying revenue as a result.”