Running a successful beer program is no easy task, and Kip Snider, director of beverage for Irvine, Calif.-based Yard House chain knows this first hand. With nearly 30 locations nationwide, Yard House emphasizes its comprehensive seasonal and craft beer menu in every location. For Snider, communication with the brewer/distributor is key, especially when regional guest preferences dictate selection. But Snider understands that knowing what works best for each market will ultimately garner higher profits for each restaurant. Here are some tips from Snider on creating a well-run seasonal beer program:
1. It’s important to have the right information about seasonal brews, such as knowing what’s available, in what states it’s available and when the product availability ends.
2. Look at what’s in a brewer’s program, and make sure they’ve been consistent with it throughout the years. Two companies Snider views as well-run machines are Boston Beer Company and the Craft Brewers Alliance, a national sales and marketing company consisting of Redhook Ale Brewery, Goose Island Beer Co., Kona Brewing Co., and Widmer Brothers Brewing Co.
3. Training for staff and product education, such as tasting notes with flavor profiles and characteristics, are vital to sales success, he says.
4. Really examine a brewer’s program. Look at how they forecast production and make sure they don’t run out of product.
5. Keep it reasonable: Offering more than four seasonals on a menu gets complicated.
6. Communicate open and often with brewers/distributors so everyone is aware of release dates.
7. Communicate with staff. Let them know tasting profiles, price points and pairings ahead of time so they can sell the product and get behind the program.