Beer is one of the oldest prepared beverages on Earth. Where would you as a bar professional be without your brews as a revenue catalyst? Building an impressive beer program is essential in order to squeeze every cent from behind the bar. Nightclub & Bar spoke with Nahem Simon, the Beer Director of the Jack Rose Dining Saloon, to get his expert advice on how operators can build a better beer program.
The Jack Rose Dining Saloon is a whiskey and cocktail focused establishment in Washington DC. The saloon sports five areas for consumers to taste and enjoy, the dinging saloon, open-air terrace, balcony room, tiki bar and whiskey cellar. While the Saloon is focused primarily on cocktails, Simon assures us that the beer program is just as important. In fact, Jack Rose recently went through a system rebuild to improve their program.
“During the rebuild of the system, we got rid of the old towers and installed all surgical grade stainless steel towers. Beyond that, a 10 product trunk line was run to complete the missing 10 draft lines that were not featured on the terrace, thus you have the same draft beer selection on both floors,” Simon explained. “Also, I built a cleaning system that allows for as many draft lines that need to be cleaned are, and it allows for the cleaning of all components."
“We pride ourselves on representing the brewery properly by cleaning the draft line anytime we are switching to a new beer, or after 3 kegs on a set draft line,” continued Simon. “During this we are also cleaning the faucets and couplers to make sure that there is nothing that can alter or compromise the flavor of the beers.”
Simon clarifies that bars should use all draft lines that are available behind the bar; Jack Rose has 20 lines with 20 beers on tap, between 8-10 canned beers due to football promotions and also a small offering of unique 12 oz. bottled beers. As for bottled and canned beers, Simon explains that the appropriate amount of beers to carry consistently depends on the season. He goes on to say that more bottles come out in the wintertime that are higher in ABV which become part of the Jack Rose’s cellar in order to age them for future years to enjoy the complexity and longevity of the beers. They also have an assortment of interesting larger format bottles.
“Other places will focus their attention of volume of products they have, or the rarity,” states Simon. “We make sure that every beer is poured by the staff correctly so that the beer never touches the faucet, and the customer receives the appropriate amount of head.”
It is us, as the retailer, states Simon, with a draft system that is that final stage of packaging of the hard work and passion that goes into brewing beer. Brewers go into brewing not to make billions of dollars, but because they love it. “And we are responsible for respecting and maintaining that passion, from the brewery, and their keg, to the glass through our meticulous upkeep of the draft system,” Simon said when explaining what makes the Jack Rose’s beer program different from their competition.
Simon goes on to advise operators struggling with their beer programs that you must be doing it for the right reasons. The craft beer market is a booming one having expanded with 1,200 new breweries between last year and this year. Operators who are attempting to create a craft beer program should not be in it solely for the money, they must dedicate the time and energy it takes to represent the beers properly and not taking the brewers for granted. Simon explains that it is essential to know your product and seek out the knowledge to maintain your product.
“It is such a diverse world that often, with all the new releases and beers popping up, it can be easy to keep a steady line up,” reiterates Simon. “Beer is about relationship building and you don't always have to have what is new and cool. It is about making sure that you have offerings that are new and cool along with offerings that are flagship beers of the breweries you are working with because those smaller batch rarities come from the sales of the "regular beers". Also, if you don't get your hands on a rare beer, don't make a stink out of it. There are always opportunities to get other interesting beers.”