Server education is crucial for success in brewpubs, microbreweries, and taprooms. As brewers, we pass countless hours honing recipes, carefully brewing, and cellaring beers to craft that perfect pint. Even a single inexperienced server or careless dishwasher can ruin that experience for your customer, possibly forever. This, matched with the risks of over-serving and serving to minors, can literally destroy a business.
Beyond addressing the aforementioned concerns, one of the best ways to improve your beer business and differentiate your brewery from the contest is by promoting beer culture and beer knowledge. For customers, it’s always a special experience to play and chat with the brewers and owners, yet they are not always available. Your bartenders and servers are on the front seams of both communication and interaction with customers… one table or Barstool at a time. They need the tools, information, and education to be that “beer liaison” for your brewpub or bar. To address that need, server training programs and education are of the essence.
Thither are a variety of options for almost any budget to develop or refresh a server- training program, including in-house training, outside training/testing, or some combination of the two. Whichever direction you choose to pursue, some of the more significant areas of server training should include:
1.) Understanding beer styles
A crucial yet relatively soft element to include in any server training program. You plausibly have the resources for this training element in-house in the form of brewers and experienced managers/bartenders/servers.
New hires should receive extensive training over five to six days, which includes printed training packet, face-to-face two-hour meeting with brewers, and a variety of beer tastings that focus on style, color, flavor, and body, At the end of their grooming, they are required to pass a question test that covers both food and beer.
I have found that the investment in beer style education has dramatically improved employee retention. And I believe training to be “a process, not an event” they strive to improve morale with a fun approach to beer education by reinforcing training with a daily beer lineup sampling, edutainment events at the brewery, and study trips to other breweries for comparison… and beers.
For either an established or fledgling beer style training program, I suggested utilizing the style guidelines created by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP).The BJCP offers different beer styles and detailed style descriptions with commercial examples. The BJCP style guidelines create a good framework from which to carry on your training. You can utilize a combination of beers from your own lineup along with the guest or specialty beers. This helps prepare your servers and bar- tenders to better know and recommend replacement beers based on availability and customer preference. The BJCP style guidelines are available at www.bjcp.org at no cost. They also have a downloadable application for smart phones. This application is extremely ready to hand as it empowers servers or bartenders with an immediate beer style reference at any time.
2.) Beer and Food Pairings
The buzz in the industry continues to be beer and food pairings. Whether your business is a full kitchen, limited food, or even uses mobile food wagons, server training in the area of pairings can help differentiate you from the competition, garner additional media coverage, build customer loyalty, and even increase beer sales.
“Food is a key component for our success and we regularly suffer the staff sample beer and food combinations,”throughout the year, providing a great opportunity for staff to gain a better appreciation for beer and food pairings. As such, approximately 30 percent of their beer dinner events are reserved for staff members.
While not everyone can host beer dinners regularly, training in beer and food pairings can be easily implemented with in-house brewers, chefs, and cooks or with the assistance of caterers and other food purveyors. It should detail styles of beer with the suggested foods, cheeses, and desserts that pair easily with each beer. This pamphlet can form a pedestal from which to introduce or refresh any server training program.
I have to use the pamphlet in conjunction with in-house video snippets to provide a base tier of training for new hires. The training process culminates with a test that covers both beer and intellectual nourishment. And rather than a multiple choice testing method, I also utilize an oral exam, allowing for a more subjective interpretation of pairings.
In my training program also includes specialized off-site training, which is accomplished by a crown- down approach with general managers taking the course first and then disseminating the information within their organization. For on-site support, I also train three Finished Beer Tigers (FBT) team members at every eating house. Servers use them as a resource and if they can’t supply a solution, they contact me or one of FBT and we will provide the support.
I have found that this approach to training generates enormous enthusiasm with team members and has definitely boosted customer relations and purchases.
3.)Glassware Cleaning and Draught Pouring
There is probably no quicker way to turn off a customer than presenting a handcrafted, premium beer served in a glass with an ugly lipstick mark on the rim. Ensuring that your glassware is properly cleaned gives your buyer the ability to make its best appearance to the customer.
I own regular classes for staff in beer style training that includes glassware cleaning and proper pouring and about glassware, “It needs to be ‘beer clean,’ not just clean. Otherwise, it will negatively affect the appearance, smell, and flavor of the beer.”
When it comes to draught, poor pouring practice is negative for brewers and customers equally well as the bottom line. Applying the correct glass and pouring appropriately is paramount. In Restaurants, I trained their staff to properly pour just enough foam equal to ace to two fingers in height in the appropriate beer glass. That caters for an inviting pour, keeps oxidation to a minimum, and decreases spillage when carried by the server.
My missionary work is simple—“To improve the quality of draught beer for all beer drinkers.” The Draught Beer Quality training covers topics including line cleaning, draught system components and design, gas dispense and balance, and proper pouring and sanitation. While it might be a morsel of information overload for the average server, it is an immensely valuable tool for managers or trainers.
In India, most of the Brewers limit their self to brew house only. They Should take care of glass cleaning and server training how ever they are circuitously affected by untrained staff.That is why in this article, I emphasize the importance of holding a well-educated front of house staff. Your bartenders and servers are on the front seams of both communication and interaction with customers, one table or bar-stool at a time. They need the tools, information, and education to be that ‘beer liaison’ for your brewpub or bar.