There are now 559 pubs selling craft beer plus another 400 restaurants and off-licences.
“There’s room for 100 to 200 craft breweries,” stated Reuben Gray, Chairman of independent microbrewery consumer support group Beoir, addressing the Pubs Educational Programme at this year’s Alltech International Brewing and Craft Food Fair held recently in Dublin’s National Convention Centre.
“After all, in the 1890s this figure stood at the 250 level.”
But craft beer doesn’t sell itself. It often costs more and requires more work to sell through, he explained, “You have to actively sell craft beer as a publican”.
So how does one begin?
One can begin selling craft beer by creating a list of draught taps and calling the craft breweries and craft suppliers. Beoir keeps a list of these on its website – or you could contract the services of companies such as Vanguard to help out.
Staff training is also important, he emphasised.
“And then there’s more staff training,” he added, “There’s nothing worse for the consumer than walking into a pub with 25 craft beer taps and asking about them from a barman who’s little knowledge of them.”
The craft beer consumer wants to be able to engage with the bar staff about the beers.
He also warned against pricing down craft beers as it devalues the brand. In fact he suggested a higher rather than a lower pricing for craft beers.
In-house advertising should also be undertaken. Have a beer list up on the wall and have a menu of beers on tap and bottle.
In matching beers to food, a menu should explain what particular beer goes with a particular food. Staff should also be trained to recommend a particular beer to go with a particular dish.
Ruben also alluded to the ‘relative dearth of cask ales here.
“Cask or Real Ale has a live yeast, so a lot of care needs to be put into it,” he explained, “These ales need a high turnover, they need to be pushed by the bar staff but it can be a good seller for British tourists.”
As a marketing exercise, beer taps should also be rotated regularly, he suggested. You should let your customers know what you have on tap — and there’s no point serving craft beer too cold, he said. The serving temperature should be about 13 to 14 degrees C.
Craft beers & social media
There’s nothing more suited to social media than the beer industry, he claimed:
‘Such-and-such a pub has such-and-such a beer on tap. Going there tonight.’
Beer-related events are also particularly partial to spread by social media.
Perhaps, he suggested, you should even do the ‘unthinkable’, by taking out a regular tap that’s been there for decades and replacing it with a craft beer tap!
As to whether a pub should gamble on going “all craft”, it’s a question too of getting on the ‘map’.
Beoir has a directory for this in the Beoir Finder App.
Interestingly, Beoir found that 60% of the App downloads were to foreigners.