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Old 08-22-2014, 05:11 AM   #1
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Default Best way to turn people on to Local Craft Beer?

So I work in the hotel industry at an airport hotel and I'm the lucky guy who gets to run the food and beverage department and I'm looking to bring on a decent assortment of the local Chicago/burb beer. It's not a super happening night spot so I can't go crazy, and lets face it every weekend my reports are still telling me that BMC rules, although Stella is right behind the light beers.

I'm thinking of a line up of mostly gateway styles with some nice beers that would work for any beer geek. For any of those in the area, I'm looking to carry Finch's, Lake Bluff, Wild Onion, Metropolitan, Revolution, Lagunitas (welcome to Chi-town!), and Penrose. Mostly looking at carrying lighter styles (Golden Ale, Wit, and Belgian inspired beers that Blue Moon fans might be able to swing to, with a couple of IPA's and Red Ales).

So, challenge one, most of my bartenders have no idea about beer and challenge two what's the best way to steer out of towners into trying Local Craft beer? One of the real kickers is that there is no draft beers, so I don't even have the option of offering samples to guests to see if they'll go for it. So when someone comes up and asks for a Blue Moon and we upsell them to a Bottoms Up Wit, if they don't like it enough, I lose out big time.

I know it's easier to keep the national brands but with some really decent beers around, it's hard for me to not push it. I'm doing the same thing with a small craft distillery, I've met the owners and they make really good booze and it just doesn't make sense to me to push Absolut or something when I have this really great, fresh product available and it's even cheaper by a smidge. That's going to be easy though, because I'm just going to use it as my rail vodka instead of absolut.

The owners aren't big on marketing the bar as a drinking hole (no bar signs, coasters, no bar lights, etc) because they think it won't look as upscale. Of course I'm doing a beer menu, but I was thinking of bringing in some leaf hops, grains or something for show and tell with the bartenders for training.

So what styles can transition people best, and it shouldn't be hard to convince people to buy a beer that doesn't suck? Right now Finch's Threadless IPA sells pretty good in proportion to the BMC's, which I found really surprising so there must be some interest.

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Old 08-22-2014, 05:34 AM   #2
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The owners may be the biggest stumbling point.

Display the bottles in several spots along the bar. Get the customer interested.
Have beer menus on the bar and tables.
Have a cheat sheet for the bartenders for what the beer style is and what the basic taste is.
Sit down with the bartenders for sampling sessions. If a bartender does not like a certain beer they should be allowed to tell the customer exactly why, if they can verbalize the reason well. (Customer may decide it is exactly what they want.)

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