Getting in on the craft beer craze: Giorgio’s corner
If your patrons are requesting local craft beer, listen to them and do your research. Photo: Fotolia
Craft beer has risen in popularity in recent years and demand for unique beers isn’t showing signs of slowing down. I often have patrons ask me for something locally brewed.
The trial-and-error process and dedication involved in achieving a perfect creation is what I think is most special about craft beer. With every creation the inventor works like a mad scientist until they reach a eureka moment and – voila! – their vision has to come life.
Creating anything is truly an art form. Craft beer is exactly this. I am a supporter of local companies and wanted to offer my patrons the craft beer they crave, without the financial risk and elimination of other crowd pleasers from my bar menu.
Local craft beer is requested more and more by my patrons. There are now so many local breweries that it’s hard to decide which one will be the right ones for your restaurant and customers. My advice is to listen to your patrons and do your research. Go online and research the makers and what kind of craft beer they are creating. Find out what ingredients they are using and the brewing process and decide what will mesh best with your menu.
Once you have a potential list, contact the owners and sales team to see what the terms are. Some breweries will let you have products on a trial basis before establishing a steady order. Breweries may even let you order based on supply and demand. Both options are ideal for testing a new product with minimal risk. This allows you to determine which brew is best for you and your customers as well as how much of it you can actually sell.
Another advantage to using a local item is that you may be able to minimize your shipping costs and avoid minimum order amounts. Minimum amounts tie up your resources and force you to over-buy. By offering craft beer, you are offering something your customers have been asking for and this will show them that you as a business owner care about their suggestions. It also will show that even though you are technically a little guy you can still stay on point with industry trends. The ultimate bonus is that you will enjoy the taste-testing process and meet incredible people in your community.
Once you have selected beers, make sure you introduce them correctly to your patrons and pair them wisely with the pizzas on your menu. As with wine, you and your staff should be able to answer basic questions about the beer, its taste and what food it would pair well with. An easy introduction can be made via social media, inside signage and by telling your servers to mention it to all patrons.
Another great way to spread the word about new beers on the menu is to host a sampling event. Inviting the breweries, your patrons, family and friends for a sampling event will not only bring the community together but also educate everyone on what craft beer is. The taste testing is an easy way to allow everyone to taste the beer without committing to a full glass or bottle. This event is also free market research. It will help build demand, provide great exposure for the local breweries and possibly convert an imported beer lover to a local beer lover.
It’s also smart to create new dishes using craft beer. Integrating the beer into a stock item as a special promotion or weekend item is inventive and exciting. Some ideas: a limited and special supply of beer-based dough or a beer glaze for cooking. It’s important to know exactly what it consists of and its compounds.
Adding craft beer to your menu could expand your customer base and be a great collaboration with the breweries.
Giorgio Taverniti owns Frank’s Pizza House in Toronto, which has been in his family since 1990. A graduate of George Brown College’s culinary management and Italian culinary programs, Giorgio helped found a popular pizza-making workshop at the college and ran it for three years.
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