I am a fan of many styles of beer. There are very few that I do not like. I prefer “cold” or “free” but when I do buy a beer, I’m game to try something new. Lately I am seeing more and more bars and restaurants that are flirting with serving craft beer and putting in additional draft lines. I love it! Nothing like having a great selection to choose from. However, many of these establishments are committed to only bringing in very rare beers or beers that you’ve never heard of and they are just rotating beers through their taps. While I like the idea of mixing it up a bit, I’m afraid that this practice leaves the average beer consumer in the dark.
There are a few local bars that I frequent where EVERY TIME I go in there are new and different beers. The problem with this is sometimes I want to drink what I had the last time that I was in. I ask the bartender, “What happened to such-n-such Ale that I had last time I was in”. The response has been, “Well that beer was so popular that we sold through a keg in 2 days!” OK….so you took it OFF TAP? That’s like your favorite restaurant taking a steak off of the menu because it sold so well. I just don’t get it. While it is fun to surf around and try new things, it’s important for “beer bars” to include the more popular brands on tap to satisfy the consumer that just wants to come in and have what they know they like. Sure I’ll drink ONE of a specialty beer….but like most beer drinkers I will then tend to migrate towards one of my old favorites.
Another thing that I see some bar owners doing is pushing a draft line-up that consists of many big, Imperial, high-alcohol beers. While having one or two of these on tap may makes sense, tying up multiple draft lines with these beers actually slows beer sales by leading the consumers to drink less and stay at the bar for a shorter duration. Many bar owners fail to realize that their bar stools are actually money-generating real estate. What’s better if you’re a bar owner? Having a patron stay for 2 hours and drink one, maybe two $7 Imperial Pints? Or having a patron stay 2 hours and drink four or five $5 sessionable Ales?
I think the ideal draft line up should have a variety of the most popular STYLES such as a Stout, an IPA, a Wheat Beer, ect. It certainly should include some of the proven sellers on tap such as Guinness Stout, Sam Adams Lager, Harpoon IPA, a local favorite, and yes…Coors Light. Why? Because beer drinkers’ spending habits dictate that they WANT these beers. Sure, save room for a couple of rotating taps to keep it interesting and occasionally bring in some big beers. And it’s always good to have a couple of taps to dedicate to great seasonal beers. But make sure that when a customer comes back for a return visit that the beer menu hasn’t changed completely. People tend to want what they are familiar with. Oh yeah…I also think that any bar with 8 or more draft lines should also feature a Cider. They are delicious, pair well with many foods, and they can be used in many mixed drinks.
I’m sure there are a lot of opinions out there on what should be on tap in the bar. If you had 8 draft lines in your place, what would you put on tap? Talk to me people…..