Keep up with connoisseurs

Bartenders need to stay abreast of beer market trends

Different types of beer
As with many categories, beer drinkers are expected to move onto darker, heavier styles.

THE beer category has experienced a rejuvenation in recent years; while lager continues to be a top seller in the on-trade, there has been an organic move towards different styles, from pale ales to full-flavoured stouts.

With new brewers popping up all over the country and customers increasingly wanting to learn more about the beer they drink, breweries told SLTN that staff need to be clued-up so they can best serve Scotland’s beer connoisseurs.

“Consumer knowledge of beer has increased greatly over the past five years,” said Andrew Chapman, director of sales and marketing at Keith Brewery.

“They are more selective on what styles of beer they drink and are interested in how they get their unique taste.

“Therefore, it is important that bar staff keep up with the current market trends and consumer knowledge so that they feel comfortable when engaging with the customer.”

While acknowledging that consumers are more aware of the category, customer marketing manager at Tennent’s, Fi Leonard, said that far from having non-negotiable favourites that they’ll stick to, beer drinkers are still strongly influenced by recommendations from a venue’s staff.

“Consumer knowledge is constantly improving with the amount of information available online and through various apps and tools accessible on smart phones,” she said.

“That said, evidence suggests that consumers are far more likely to try something new if it’s been recommended by bar staff. Staff who can make informed recommendations can have a real impact on sales, especially over the busy Christmas period, which is just on the horizon.”

Given December’s significance to the on-trade and the significance of beer within the drinks split, Jerry Shedden, on-trade category and trade marketing director at Heineken, said operators need to make sure their beer range is diverse enough, in style and in price, to tempt an array of beer lovers – with options available should they wish to trade up.

He said: “It’s important to stock a range of different styles at different price points to ensure you’re catering for all tastes and preferences.

“Consumers are often up for trying something new so your range needs to spark their interest.”

And with the festive season upon the trade, Chapman of Keith Brewery said licensees should expect to see variations in drinker’s choices.

He said: “The general trend for seasons tend to see darker, heavier beers during colder months. However, it’s important that licensees do not disregard the lighter beers altogether in order to maintain a range of styles.”