Dispensing knowledge

Tennent’s Lager Care Programme, a free-to-access training service for trade staff, aims to improve the quality of pints poured across the country. SLTN recently stopped by Tennent’s Training Academy to see the course in action

STACKED glassware, incorrect nozzles on taps, an out of date keg of beer and a disconnected pump. These are just a handful of faults – both behind the bar and in the cellar – purposely set up in a ‘lock-in’ cellar-themed escape room at Tennent’s Training Academy to test trade staff undertaking Tennent’s Lager Care (TLC) programme.

With a total of ten faults to identify – five behind the bar and five in the cellar – the latest batch of bar workers, who have undertaken the day-long training course covering all aspects of best practice and cellar management, are split into two and, taking it in turns, have ten minutes to put their newly acquired knowledge to the test by identifying the various faults as quickly as possible.

With both teams uncovering all ten mistakes with relative ease – with 2 minutes 18 seconds and 4 minutes 28 seconds to spare respectively when SLTN stopped by to see the course in action – it’s testament to the TLC programme, which in a nutshell aims to educate bar staff and improve the quality of pints poured across the country.

A free-to-access training service provided through the Tennent’s Training Academy, with follow-up support through the MyTennent’s trade website – an online portal for customers, including marketing advice – the programme was developed by Stevie Dickson and Paul Welsh from the quality team, along with former technicians and members of the training academy team.

And Kenny Macdonald, who is responsible for delivering the programme, believes it is an important step towards achieving better practice both in the cellar and behind the bar.

Looking to dispel cellar management myths and instil good practice in trade staff, Kenny said: “The problem is people don’t know what they don’t know,” adding that one of the big problems when it comes to cellar management is the passing on of incorrect procedures and bad practice.

“Unfortunately, it’s one of the things in this industry where there are so many myths and half-truths and pseudo experts who claim to know everything,” he explained.

“And people who are coming in fresh to the industry, they have no background knowledge to stake that against. So they take it as gospel and then suddenly that becomes the information that’s passed on and on; and that’s how bad practice spreads.”

That’s where the TLC programme comes in.

Kenny takes each round of trade staff over everything there is to know about achieving the perfect pint – from cellar management through to the pour.

Kicking off the day with a tour of Wellpark brewery, the team are then taken through every single piece of equipment in the cellar, with Kenny explaining what each piece of equipment is, what it is designed to do and why it is required. 

“Explaining things like Cellarbuoys, explaining things to do with the remote cooler and how to check everything’s good with it – and getting it into their heads that in the morning, the cellar is the first thing you check; because if that’s not operating right, you’ve bought yourself time to get it fixed,” said Kenny.

“I get them all to change a keg because it’s one of the worst performed activities that you’ll see; between people not turning gas off first, people doing it one-handed, people holding on to the gas line as they turn – all of these are just bad habits [bar staff have] picked up.

“So you explain not only how to do it properly, but why they’re doing it properly.”

Kenny added that the comprehensive approach to the cellar helps staff take a more analytical approach to any future issues and helps solve issues at the bar, too.

“We go right through everything in there, we talk about different things that they’ve got to ask themselves if things aren’t going right because the whole point of this is not just best practice but an analytical approach, a pro-active approach; what’s wrong? How can I put that right?” said Kenny.

He also believes that licensees have a responsibility to good cellar management when it comes to pouring pints.

“I always say to them – ‘you’ve got a duty of care towards that brand, because while Tennent’s gives you that brand, you’ve got stewardship of that – it’s up to you to make sure you present it in the best possible way’,” said Kenny.

“And also it’s the only way that it’s going to be financially viable for you – so it benefits everybody.”

Ultimately, the course, which continues to be in high demand, is an important step towards raising standards across Scotland’s hospitality industry.

“Everything that we’re trying to do is looking at best practice; at how to do it as professionally, as welcoming, as financially viable for all of us and it means that the customer benefits – but that you benefit too,” said Kenny.

Within the first year of the TLC program Tennent’s are expecting to train hundreds of bartenders from across Scotland. To date over 40 people have been through the doors since May, and escaped the cellar and bar lock in! The Swan Inn, Eaglesham said “Delighted to send two of our team along to the TLC program recently. They found it really interesting and had lots of fun too. They have come back to the business full of energy and confidence having re-learned all the basics such as changing kegs, cleaning the cellar and pouring the perfect pint. They also learned new skills. They’ve each taken on new responsibilities within their roles. Their overall experience was nothing but positive and not only will we be happy to send more of our team, they are all asking to go. Cannot recommend this enough, 5 stars from us”

Tennent’s are already hard at work planning more quality training for 2019.

To find out more about Tennent’s Lager Care head to www.MyTennents.com