Craft Beer

by Daniel Thor, Bellissimo Foods

The craft beer revolution started in 1965 when Fritz Maytag, grandson to the Maytag empire, bought 51% of Anchor Steam Brewery, a company that – before Fritz got involved – was going out of business.  Since 1965 the craft beer business has taken off in a direction that more closely mirrors the wine industry with smaller unique producers around the country putting their own personal touch on the classic beverage.  The common saying is that pizza and beer go hand in hand, but the realm of possibilities hasn’t even been touched until you’ve tried to pair your pizza creations with a good local craft beer.

In the United States today there are 3,464 breweries operating in America, a 50% increase in the last 6 years.  There are also 3 BILLION pizzas sold in America every year, and 350 slices eaten every second.  With the way these two items complement each other it’s no wonder restaurants all over the country are partnering with local craft breweries. Introducing craft beers increases restaurant traffic, bar revenue and overall profits.

The average guest check that includes food and a mainstream beer is on average $73, according to FSR Magazine, while it’s $86 for the same meal for the same meal with a craft beer.  Furthermore, FSR Magazine also estimates that the average mainstream beer drinker spends $0.80 per minute, while a craft beer drinkers spends $1.00 per minute.  That is a 25% increase.

The first step in introducing some new craft beers is often the easiest and involves exactly what you think – tasting and selecting local craft beers to use in your establishment.  With the help of your head cook/chef, sit down with some selections to see what opportunities there are between your current offering and the beers that you are tasting.  Create flavor synchronization between the toppings on the pizza and the beer you want to serve.  An example could be a meat pizza paired with a very hoppy beer, such as an IPA; while a vegetable pizza might go well with a darker beer such as a brown ale.  Also, as every customer is going to have a different opinion of beer, you should offer a wide variety of beers, with some that are well balanced to match a variety of tastes, some that match your climate and season, and some just for the adventurous.

When implementing new craft beers to your menu, make sure that your staff if well-trained in which pizza complements which beer.  Spicy goes with pales, lagers and pilsners for standard items, and stout/dark beers for lighter items.  You might also want to launch your new menu with the help of a local brewery.  Pint nights are very effective at picking up new customers.

Some people are obsessed with beer, while others are obsessed with pizza.  Why not marry the two for extra traffic and sales?

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