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Ten tips on how to hit the right note with craft beer

Published:  05 August, 2016

The mighty craft pound has definitely paid off when it comes to specialty beer.

The mighty craft pound has definitely paid off when it comes to specialty beer.

With the category growing by 30.9% year-on-year and now accounting for 3.5% of the total beer market (CGA to September 2015), it's clear what having a good craft beer offering can do to add intrigue and boost sales.

We spoke to Carlsberg UK about how to make sure you're getting your craft range right.


1. Make craft accessible

Whatever the size of your range, make it easy for newbies to give it a go. Pretentiousness will only put off potential customers.

2. Get your 'menu' right

Putting together a craft beer list organised by country and style will help your customer to know where to start. It doesn't have to be formal and printed - a blackboard will do fine and is easy to update. Once a customer knows what they like, they can develop their tastes from there.

3. Don't go for the hard sell

The pub or bar that makes it easy for customers to discover new flavours in a relaxed setting will reap the rewards. Enthusiasm is great, but ramming new products down customers' throats is unlikely to get them coming back for more. Those who make it easy for customers to try new styles, find out what they like and build their knowledge will be rewarded with loyal fan base.

4. Let customers try before they buy

If someone wants to try something new, give them a taster. Letting drinkers try before they buy shows confidence in your drinks selection and it also opens up conservation, giving you the opportunity to steer them towards the right choices.

5. Get personal

Bar staff are the ones with the knowledge, so sharing personal recommendations is just good sense - and it is also what the customer wants to hear. They trust your opinion and your expertise, so don't be afraid to offer it.

6. Don't just serve the nearest thing to lager

Staff often make the mistake of trying to serve the craft beer newcomer with drinks which are closest to lager, with the lightest flavour. That's great if you're serving to a real fan, but not everyone is coming across from larger to craft.

7. Grow customers' knowledge

Consumers are crying out to know more about their drinks, especially when it comes to locally-brewed beer. Why not arrange for an expert or brewer to come in and give a talk on the subject, or hold tastings? A little extra knowledge will keep customers engage with the category and enable them to discover new flavours.

8. Refresh your range

It's always good to update your offering so there's something new to discover. Introducing seasonal specials or guest beers maintains the interest for regulars. It also gives you something to talk about on social media, which could lead to new faces at the bar.

9. ...but don't go crazy with mixing up your range

Although updating your range is a good idea, you don't want it to swell to a size where it unmanageable and confusing for the customer. A well-balanced range of half a dozen beers can satisfy any palate.

10. Get the right glassware

The glass is essential to getting the most out of the flavour and the character of a particular beer. Craft beers especially aren't meant to be necked from the bottle. There's plenty of information online about what glass is right for what kind of beer. You might not want to stock the full range, but a selection including pint, stein, tulip and pilsner glasses is a good starting point for providing a great craft service.