Sales of craft beer have more than doubled in the past two years, with one in five drinkers surveyed by AC Neilsen and Mintel saying they’ve tried them.
- Offer your customers a choice. There are all sorts of different craft beers available, so stock a selection.
- Merchandise! Make it easy for customers to see what’s available by having a craft beer menu, complete with tasting notes and ABV information.
- If you serve food, make sure the menu has information on which of your craft beers goes best with certain dishes. And don’t forget to have beer pairing suggestions on your specials board.
- Keep your offering fresh by having guest beers. Your supplier will be delighted to help you, so ask!
- Make sure your staff know the beers you have in, what foods they go with and what they taste like. Your customers will appreciate the advice and comments that properly briefed and enthusiastic staff members can give.
43% of drinkers state that they’re willing to pay a premium, meaning Craft Beer can command an additional 75-90p per pint.
And now with campaigns like ‘There’s a Beer For That’ promoting beer and food matching in pubs, there’s never been a better time to expand your offering
What to Stock?
An incredibly diverse category, encompassing pale ale, bitter, saison, golden ale and extra special bitter (ESB), all are typically golden to copper coloured and brewed using an ‘ale yeast’.
Also includes India Pale Ale (IPA) – originally brewed in 18th century England for consumption in Colonial India, these ales were traditionally highly hopped so as to preserve their distinct taste whilst being transported by ship.
Many pale ales now come from the USA, where craft beer has really taken off.
Glass: stemmed tulip or straight pint
American IPA – Smoked beef brisket, hamburgers, grilled lamb, southern fried chicken, Mexican food, very sweet desserts, strong blue cheeses
IPA – Curry, strong spicy food, BBQ steak, carrot cake
Bitter/ESB – Fish & Chips, roasted white meats, mild cheese
Saison – Salmon, aged goats cheese, fried fish, spicy sausages
Golden ale – Chicken, salads, salmon, bratwurst, Monteray Jack cheese
Porter & Stout
A porter, traditionally English, a dark, full bodied ale, with more roast taste than a brown ale, less than a stout.
A descendent of porter, stout is a stronger, roastier, ‘stouter’ version. Lots of variants. Russian Imperial Stouts are a must have – serve in a brandy balloon to properly showcase big, intense flavours.
Glass: straight pint, tulip or goblet
Oysters, meat stews, fried steak, sausages, grilled Portobello mushrooms, blackened fish, chilli and chocolate desserts
Brewed using large amounts of wheat and barley. German Weissbier has notes of clove and banana, while Belgian Witbier is more citrusy with a hint of spice, giving the beer a strong tang. Both are cloudy, and a great summer drink.
Glass: Weissbier – Weissbier glass. Whitbier – stemmed tulip
Spicy foods, eggs, salad and fish Lighter food – salads, seafood, sushi, goats cheese and strawberry shortcake
A category of seriously strong ales that includes Barley wine, Vintage, Abbey and Trappist ales.
Vintage ales are designed to be aged, just like wine. Trappist ales have to be brewed to exacting standards by monks or within the walls of an accredited Trappist monastery, Abbey ales are in the same style, but can be brewed outside of a monastery.
Glass: Because of their strength, a brandy balloon is recommended for all of these ales!
Barley wine – Stilton and rich, sweet desserts
Vintage ale – Roast beef, lamb or game
Trappist ales – Sausages, cheese, salmon
Abbey beer – BBQ, meat stews, steak
Lager & Hybrid Beers
Different from ale by virtue of the use of slow-acting yeast that can do its stuff at very low temperatures and the fact that it’s traditionally conditioned for longer, lager is the world’s most consumed beer.
The range includes Bock, Dortmunder, Dunkel, Helles, Märzen, Pilsners, Rauchbier, Schwarzbiers and Vienna lagers – and colours that range from pale gold through to dark brown. There are so many possibilities.
And on top there are hybrid beers, which are made with lager yeast but fermented at ale temperatures. Look for Altbiers, Kölsch, Cream Ales and Steam Beers.
Glass: tall stemmed pilsner glass or stemmed goblet
Pale lager – Salmon, chicken, sushi, fried fish, pizza and tandoori dishes
Dark lager – Spicy food, BBQ, sausages, roasted meats
Dry, complex, delicious and challenging. Sour beers encompass names like Berliner Weisse, Framboise, Gueuze, Kriek and Lambic.
Fermented with wild yeasts and bacteria, these are beers for the true enthusiast.
Glass: Champagne flute or Brandy balloon
Gueuze – Mussels, shellfish, cheese plate, tomato salad
Kriek – Goats cheese, fruit pie, bakewell tart
Berliner – Salty foods and cured meats
Weisse – Duck and salty foods
Forget the insipid non-alcoholic ales of past times. Demand has seen an ever increasing choice being made available to the UK on-trade. Ask your specialist supplier.
Spicy food, pizza, fried fish and eggs
Until the 1960s, Mild was Britain’s best selling ale in pubs, typically being lower in alcohol and darker than the other stalwart, Bitter.
And think of brown ale and while ‘Newkie Brown’ will undoubtedly come to mind, there are a number of British and American versions on offer, often with a nutty, caramel taste.
Glass: straight sided pint or a tulip
Brown ale – BBQ, roast meats, (especially pork), smoked sausage, grilled salmon or halibut, crumbly cheshire, cheddar, Gloucester cheese and cheesecake
Mild – Mushrooms, wild game, mild cheddar and dark fruit tart
Beer matching via Twitter
#BeerMatch is a unique Twitter service developed to give you instant beer recommendations from Britain’s best beer experts, for hundreds of the nation’s favourite foods.
How does it work?
Simply tweet the name of a food to @BeerForThat with the hashtag #BeerMatch for an instant reply. You’ll get a brand, and the style – so you can find a beer in your stock that works with the dish!