People love beer and we sell it! What we often don’t do is sell as much as we could and make as much from those sales as we should. The shame is that the knowledge necessary and effort required to maximize sales and profit are, respectively, pretty simple and relatively minimal. The key is knowing how to deliver quality beer while minimizing waste.
Cans and Bottles
Canned and bottled beer is relatively easy to manage. But there are still things you need to do to make sure your product isn’t spoiling and your customers are getting the kind of quality product that makes them want another.
1. Canned and Bottled Beer should be stored at or below “cellar temperature,” somewhere around 55EF.
2. Beer should be rotated using the first in first out (FIFO) method or the quality of beers that remain at the backs and bottoms of bar coolers or at the bottoms of stacks in storage will be compromised.
3. Storage coolers should be cleaned and sanitized on a regular basis.
4. Chest coolers hold a lot of product but they are difficult to clean and inconvenient for regularly rotating product. If you have them at your bar you should replace them. If you can’t, they need to be put on a regular cleaning and rotation schedule that is strictly adhered to.
Keg beer is relatively more difficult to manage, mostly because of the method of delivery – your draught system. The extra effort is well worth it because improper design, balance and sanitation are the cause of overly foamy beer, the single biggest waste of product at your bar. Statistics indicate that between 15% and 40% of the beer in a keg is lost as bartenders pour ounce after ounce down the drain in an effort to get a proper pour. These numbers are staggering and unacceptable, especially because you can easily capture those profits.
Direct draw systems, or kegerators, are simple and the most problem-free options for delivering draught. They are situated under the bar so the distance travelled by the beer is minimal. With a few beer options and sufficient underbar space, they are your best option. For smaller spaces or multiple draught offerings, they are not feasible.
Long draw systems are a necessity in many operations, especially those with multiple draught offerings. Kegs in a long draw system are typically stored in a walk-in cooler that is located somewhere other than the bar. The cooling, tubing, couplings and distance all make designing and balancing these systems tricky. Proper design and installation result in fewer problems and less waste and so are worth paying professionals for.
A balanced system is one that delivers draught beer at the appropriate temperature and level of carbonation. The settings for your system will be established post-installation based on a series of variables. These settings need to be constantly maintained and therefore frequently checked by you. It is imbalance that results in inferior beer and waste.
Many states require that your draught lines be cleaned once every fourteen days using caustic chemicals like sodium or potassium hydroxide. This is a good standard for you to use even if it isn’t the law. Additionally, the lines should be cleaned with acid once every three months. A cleaning schedule like this will keep lines free of proteins, carbohydrates and other organics. It is good for sanitation, flavor and for the flow of beer through the system.
The final step in the process is making sure your staff is properly trained in service methods that ensure quality product and minimize waste. Here are some tips.
1. Demand that your bar staff minimize the quantity of beer going down the drain. Put counters on your taps if you must and hold staff accountable for lost product. Some loss is acceptable, 40% is ridiculous.
2. Train bartenders to pour resulting in a one inch head, the point at which carbonation is best and aromas from the head create the most enjoyment. Beer without a head has too much carbonation in suspension that will come out in your customers’ stomachs! They’ll feel full and be less likely to order food or another drink.
3. Always serve a glass with bottled beers. Ask if you can pour. The agitation that comes from drinking from the bottle creates an inconsistent experience for the customer over the duration of the drink. Drinking from a glass maximizes enjoyment.
4. Always use “beer clean” glassware that is free from residue that dissipates the creation of foam and makes pouring to a one inch head impossible.
5. Your bar staff should not be adjusting refrigeration temperatures or gas pressure unless they are properly trained. An old trick for bartenders is to drop the gas pressure to completely eliminate foam. This speeds things up at the bar but results in no head or flat beer. That’s bad for business.