Drafting a Plan At a time when the beer market is booming and the sheer number of offerings available to the on-premise can be staggering to both bar owners and their patrons, sometimes you need to put the focus on the “little things”—like service, promotion, and your own passion for beer. By Chris Ytuarte
ndisputably, beer is the basis of the bar industry. From the earliest Egyptian watering holes, which evolved into the 16th century European taverns that are the blueprint for today’s bars, they all served beer long before spirits and cocktails were ever discovered. Naturally, the market for this barley beverage has continued to grow since those ancient days, and both the number of beers available and the amount of consumption expands daily.
So how is a bar owner expected to maintain a working knowledge of this enormous beer category, not to mention the kind of passion for the product and its service that will allow them to create an overall beer program that keeps patrons coming back? “It’s about enhancing the experience of beer, and whether its draught or bottle, it’s about what the location can best do to optimize that experience,” explains Scott Blazek, Senior Vice President of Sales at HEINEKEN USA. “One of the big initiatives we’ve undertaken in terms of enhancing the beer experience is what we call Passion4Beer, which is a dynamic training education program. It’s all about reigniting the passion for beer, and doing it in a way that bartenders and bar owners can use to enhance the quality of the beer experience for people in their establishment.” Indeed, there is a lot to experience. The overall beer market remains a juggernaut, both on-premise and off. This past August, the annual Consumption Habits survey was released by Gallup, stating that 39% of those polled said they drank beer more often than other alcoholic drinks in the past year, compared to 36% the year before. Similarly, The Beer Institute released new data that shows the value of beer sales in restaurants rose more than 9 percent in 2011, totaling about $23.6 billion in sales. And the National Restaurant Association expects 10,000 new eating and drinking establishments to open this year, bringing the industry total to 970,000 locations. To keep pace with such demand domestically, beer production is ramping up as well. According to the Brewers Association, the U.S. now boasts 2,126 breweries— www.barbizmag.com
an increase of 350 breweries since June 2011. The organization also tracks breweries in planning as an indicator of potential new entrants into the craft category, and lists 1,252 breweries in planning today compared to 725 a year ago. “Beer-passionate Americans are opening breweries at a rate faster than at any time since the day Prohibition ended,” says Paul Gatza, director, Brewers Association. “There is nearly a new brewery opening for every day of the year, benefiting beer lovers and communities in every area across the country.” Overall, beer sales rose more than 2 percent in 2011, surpassing $98 billion in total sales, highlighting beer’s continued strength within the alcohol beverage sector. According to market research company Nielsen, the increase in sales revenue can be attributed to the high-end beer business. The sale of imports, crafts and above-premium beers sold offpremise was up nearly 3 percent. And therein lies a niche in which bar owners can focus in order to keep their beer program contemporary and competitive. “We feel that the upscale beer segment, even though it’s growing very quickly, is still somewhat underrepresented,” says Blazek. As defined by BusinessDictionary. com, “upscale” means “Having the feel, image, look, and price-tag of something designed to appeal to the well-to-do urban segment of the population. Combine that notion with the growing popularity of such products within a young, diverse group of American drinkers, and the beer market has found a welcoming target.” “We want to be the undisputed thought leaders within upscale—retail, bar owners, off-premise, and on-premise, they’re coming to HUSA when they have questions, thoughts and insights about what’s happening within upscale,” continues Blazek. “In the multi-cultural Millennial demographic, for example, 43% are consuming upscale draught. The younger African-American, Hispanic, Asian, Mexican, Jamaican, and Dominican demographics are drinking this category extensively. So there is a lot of October 2012 Bar Business Magazine
Published on Oct 23, 2012