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15th Ave Taphouse Pouring beer


Some servers don’t know the first thing about beer. “It’s hoppy and light-colored,” is the best you can expect when you ask for a description. How many self-respecting restaurants or bars would have servers talk about wine that way?

As craft beer continues to take the country by storm, customers have higher expectations. Many patrons enjoy making drink decisions based on information and recommendations from staff. On top of that, a smart drink recommendation makes a much better customer experience.

When you enable your team to make engaging and suggestions, customers get a more personal and enjoyable connection to your restaurant or bar. It can also increase sales. Use these 6 practical ways to train your staff on selling and recommending beer to your patrons.


  • Make sure your staff has access to the basic information about the beer
    • Where is the beer from?
    • What style is it?
    • What is the ABV?
    • What is the IBU?
    • How does the brewery describe the beer?
    • How popular is the beer?
    • Is it a seasonal?
  • Hold weekly beer meetings


Start by sampling and discussing the beers on tap. If servers are asked about their favorite beer, they’ll be prepared to answer. Next, go over sales reports to see how beers are performing. Invite staff to discuss why. Is a lighter beer more popular during a hot summer week? Did a brewery just win an award and make the news? Finally, discuss feedback from staff and customers.


  • Take a team brewery tour

Learn the brewing process from a professional brewer. Try asking one of your brewery reps if your staff can take a tour of a brewery. Take notes on how the beers are made and the ingredients that create each beer’s unique flavor. Your servers will be prepared to pique any customer’s interest with a story.


  • Keep your tap list updated


Either make sure your printed menus and Chalkboards are regularly updated, or use a service like Taplister. Taplister offers printed menus with QR codes so even if the print is out of date, customers can scan the QR code for real-time information. Many restaurants and breweries have successfully used Digital Beer Boards, which show your live tap list in plain sight, including delicious details about each beer.


  • Learn about home brewing


Go to a home brew store and take a look around. Home brew stores are great because you have direct access to hops, yeast, malt and other ingredients. Encourage your staff to smell, see and touch the ingredients to get a real understanding of how they impact the beer and give it character. You might be able to take a home brewing class, or look into brewing your own beer!


  • Get an industry certification


Consider signing up for industry-recognized online or offline training programs, such as Cicerone, MBAA or BA. You can learn all about the history of beer, the brewing process, beer styles, the importance of cleaning tap lines, proper glassware and how to pour beer like a pro. The BA program is $15 while the other programs are several hundred dollars depending on which level you take.

Whether you’re focused on selling craft beer or not, your customers will expect your staff to be able to offer information and helpful suggestions. Use these tips for novice servers as well as experienced bartenders. If you have other creative tips, share them in the comments below.

Looking to simplify the way you educate your customers and staff on craft beer? Click here to learn about Taplister’s practical business tools.

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