After working through openings with a bunch of folks, we’ve found the best time to start working on your menu is about 2 weeks before opening. (For some folks it’s more, for others it’s less.)
True, you probably won’t have your beer list finalized two weeks before opening. But by giving yourself this buffer you’ll be able to design a beer menu template that’s perfect for your business and not be stressing about it as opening day approaches.
This is especially important because—unfailingly—something else will come up, and if your menu isn't ready, you'll be scrambling.
Disclaimer: Some folks we know have waited until opening day to get their beer menu designed and ready for service. It’s sometimes possible to pull this off, but trying to nail your beer menu down while playing whack-a-mole with a million other things is not a good idea.
Given the stress you'll be feeling, your cardiologist certainly agrees.
What goes into building my beer menu?
In oder to get your beer menu ready for opening, it’s helpful to think of the work in two separate steps:
Designing your beer menu template
Adding your beers to your beer menu
Common question: How can I design my template without inputting my beers? How can I know everything will look right if I don’t do that?
Answer: You can't know, so you should use sample menu items.
Of course, if you’re adding sample menu items to a template, it can feel like a wasted time—these beers aren't going to be on the menu when we open, so what's the point?
It's not wasted time. Putting in a little time at this stage will pay off later because it means you won't be scrambling when opening day approaches.
Well, you won't be scrambling as much as opening day approaches. 😉
Hack: You can avoid adding sample menu items altogether by designing your beer menu template with BeerMenus Print Menus instead of designing it yourself. As soon as you start designing your beer menu template on BeerMenus, sample menu items will automatically appear on your template.
This frees you to focus on designing the perfect beer menu template for your business without having to add a single beer to your menu.
Get started with BeerMenus Print Menus now:
Step 1: Design your beer menu template
Before you even go about designing your beer menu template, you need to be clear on a few items regarding your menu. Namely:
Do I want this to be just my beer menu? Or do I want to include other menu items (e.g. cocktails, wines, etc.) too?
How many beers do I want to fit per page? (Note: Have I considered readability for my guests?)
Are there any colors I want to use? Where should I use them? (In the menu’s fonts? In the header?)
Where do I want to work in my branding? Logo in the header? Should I use specific fonts in the menu? Which fonts?
Should I include beer descriptions on the menu? (Note: If you want higher check sizes, then the answer is yes.)
Is there anything I want to advertise on my menu, like happy hour, flights, or social media handles?
How do I want to organize my beers? By style? Alphabetically?
Once you have clarity on these items, you'll have established the basic parameters for your menu template. This will make the template designing process much easier.
OK, I've got the parameters set and I basically know what I want from my menu. How long will designing my beer menu template take?
It depends how you go about designing your beer menu template.
➡️ I'm designing my beer menu template myself
If you’re designing the menu yourself or you’ve hired a graphic designer, then it can take a significant amount of time (especially once you throw in the time it takes to add sample menu items).
If you’re going this route, you should build in at least a 1-2 full work days (8-16 hours) to design your template. You'll need to allot yourself even more time if you’re looking for an exceptionally stylized menu.
➡️ I’m going to use BeerMenus Print Menus to design my beer menu template
If you use BeerMenus Print Menus to design your beer menu template, you'll have your beer menu template designed in about 10 minutes.
If you'd like to get started, just add your business to BeerMenus:
As soon as you get started with BeerMenus, you can choose your template’s main look and feel from a series of professionally designed themes.
Since sample menu items are already available to you, you can make sure you nail font size and the number of beers per page without having to input a bunch of sample menu items on your own. You can make all these adjustments by using your Print Menu settings.
So you know: You can also design a totally custom beer menu template—we’re more than happy to help you out with design at no charge to you. Here are a few custom designs we’ve done lately:
If you'd like us to design your menu template from scratch, just schedule a call with one of our design wizards or witches. We'd love to help!
Step 2: Add your beers to your beer menu template
Once you know what beers you’re going to have on opening day, you need to add them to the beautiful menu template you've designed.
How long will this part take?
Again, it totally depends on how you’ve decided to build your menu.
➡️ I designed my beer menu template manually
This part will probably take between an 1.5-2.5 hours.
For each of your beers, you have to:
Type the full beer name (triple check your spelling!)
Search on Google for the beer description, ABV, and any other info you want to include
Copy and paste the info into your beer menu template
Add size, container (e.g. draft, can, bottle, etc.), and price
Make sure the menu template design doesn’t break when you add all of these pieces (formatting can be very fragile in Microsoft Word, InDesign, etc.)
That adds up to about 5 minutes per beer (on the conservative end). If you have 20 beers, then it will take you around one hour and 40 minutes. If you have 30 beers it will take you around two hours and 20 minutes.
➡️ I used BeerMenus to create my menu template
It depends how many beers you have, but this should only take you between 5 and 8 minutes.
When you’re using BeerMenus, you add beers by visiting your update menu page. There, you begin typing the name of the beer you’re adding and select it from the dropdown, then add size, container, and price:
Click "Add to menu," and all the relevant info—from beer description to price—gets pulled over to your beer menu template:
This takes about 15 seconds per beer. If you have 20 beers, it will take you about 5 minutes. If you have 30 beers, it will take you between 7 and 8 minutes.
What happens when I need to update my menu items?
➡️ I designed my beer menu template manually (~5 minutes per beer)
If you're not using BeerMenus, you'll need to find your menu file on your computer, open it, then find the menu item that's no longer available. Delete that menu item, along with all the information about it.
After that, you'll need to add the new menu item. Unfortunately that means you've once again got to search out all the beer information:
Beer name (correct spelling!)
Where it's from
Some of this information will be on hand—you might know where the beer's from, and many times you'll know how the beer name is spelled. You also might be able to pull the ABV from the bottle or keg collar.
That means you'll likely need to Google the description. You can usually find a good one on the brewery's website or another site, and once you do you need to copy it, then paste it in.
But you're still not done. Because some descriptions are longer than others, you have to verify your menu formatting is still good.
Once you finish all that, you'll be ready to print your updated menu. Provided nothing blows up, you'll be pushing print in about 5 minutes (if you're changing just one beer).
➡️ I designed my beer menu template with BeerMenus (~20 seconds per beer)
If you're using BeerMenus, it's a simple 3-step process to update and print your updated menu.
Step 1: Visit your BeerMenus update menu page to remove the menu item that's no longer available
Step 2: Add your new menu item
Step 3: Print your updated menu
Here's a video of doing all 3 steps (in just 20 seconds):
After that, your updated menu is ready to roll. Just push print and you'll be back up to speed as soon as your printer finishes the job.
Can BeerMenus design my new beer menu for me?
There are three ways to get that ball rolling: schedule a call with one of our design whizzes, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or click that little blue help icon in the lower right portion of the screen to start a chat.