How-to guides, insider tips, and data-driven insights for breweries and beer-focused bars and restaurants.

A simple strategy for beer-centric places to run a [very] profitable wine program

Last updated February 02, 2023 · By Dylan Blake

Zach Mack owns a beer-centric store in Manhattan—it's called Alphabet City Beer Co., after all. He sells 450 SKUs of beer to go and his 11 taps are reliably the best 11 taps you're gonna find in NYC.

But even though you wouldn't know it (I definitely didn't), he's got a sneaky-awesome wine program that's simple, makes him some great incremental profits, and actually has gotten him a fair amount of wine-drinking regulars at his beer bar.

Here's how he thinks about having a great, simple, profitable wine program at a beer-centric place:

Link cider to comfort and nostalgia and you'll sell more of it

Last updated January 26, 2023 · By Dylan Blake

Kyle Sherrer is the owner of Backpack Brands of Newburgh, NY, which puts out three craft brands:

  • Graft Cider, a craft cider that innovates on flavors. Think cutting edge craft beer, but for cider.
  • Hudson North Cider, a hazy dry cider brand that's lower in sugar than their competitors (like Austin Eastciders, for example).
  • Ritual Hard Kombucha, a west-coast style hard kombucha made in NY.

Kyle's been in the cider game for a long time, so it was super interesting talking to him about how bars and restaurants can sell more cider. In Kyle's mind, cider's seat at the beverage table comes from its inextricable link to comfort and nostalgia. That link means bars and restaurants are in a great spot to sell more of it.

How a craft bar can effectively train & educate even the most novice servers and bartenders

Last updated January 19, 2023 · By Dylan Blake

Darian Everding manages London Underground, a craft beer and whisk(e)y bar in Ames, IA.

Like so many places in the industry, London Underground has seen an uptick in staff turnover in the last couple years. For a craft bar, that kind of turnover matters: you often have to do a lot of training with new folks to get them up to the necessary knowledge level.

During this period Darian has found a formula for staff training and education that's brought London Underground success with all their staff—from the most novice all the way up to the beer and whiskey nerds.

Check out the interview video and read on to learn 8 ways Darian educates staff and gets them invested in London Underground's bar success.

Brave New Bar 6: The 5-step process for handling angry guests in 2023

Last updated January 12, 2023 · By Dylan Blake

Having an angry guest is a difficult situation. They're unhappy. Your server or bartender isn't happy. You're not happy.

It sucks when no one's happy.

Add to that the fact that everybody's stress level has been ratcheted up these last 2.75 Covid years and you're looking at a tinderbox. When you intervene, you really do need to thread a needle.

Josh Hurst, industry veteran and current Director of Operations and Hospitality Josh Hurst for Pies & Pints has a playbook for threading this needle, whether the angry customers have complaints in-store or via their website or social media.

Check out the post and clips below to learn all about Josh's process.

10 best beer menu board designs of 2023

Last updated January 09, 2023 · By Dylan Blake

This year we've helped bars, restaurants, and breweries from Alaska to New York showcase their craft beer tap list in just about every way possible, from modern to sleek to chalkboard-inspired.

In this article we highlight the 10 best digital menu board designs we made this year. Enjoy!

Treat your staff well so that you're always well-staffed with bar owner Ben Wiley

Last updated December 29, 2022 · By Dylan Blake

Ben Wiley is an owner of some of the best beer bars in Brooklyn. (In my opinion, they're the best.) Bar Great Harry and Glorietta Baldy are institutions, places you can always drop into for the best draft beers in NYC and an awesome, adventurous wine and cocktail list.

When I first started going to Bar Great Harry and Mission Dolores (another bar of Ben's that recently shuttered), I thought the top-tier drink selections were the reason those places flourished.

But after dozens and dozens of visits, I've come around to a different understanding. The drinks are key of course. So are the bars' consciously designed spaces. But what really makes Ben's bars so special is the staff. They're friendly. Knowledgeable. Helpful. But maybe most importantly, they seem happy to be there.

This isn't an accident. It's by design. Ben goes out of his way to treat his staff extremely well, because he knows it's one of the most important things you can do to make your business thrive and to make your life easier.

He was kind enough to share some tactics for how to treat your staff well—check out the video clips below to learn what they are!

Is the beer bar dead? with veteran bar owner Zach Mack

Last updated December 21, 2022 · By Dylan Blake

Is the beer bar dead?

Last year writer Josh Bernstein posed the question in the New York Times, and it's something we've been thinking about ever since.

So has Zach Mack, veteran bar owner and industry expert. Check out the clips below hear his point of view, how to operate in a changing beer world, and whether it's such a bad thing that the beer bar as we knew it is on the outs.

How to deal with new competitors (with Pies & Pints Director of Operations and Hospitality Josh Hurst)

Last updated December 13, 2022 · By Dylan Blake

When a new competitor opens up it's easy to get scared or preoccupied, especially if they're trying to do something similar to you.

But getting preoccupied with the new competitor is exactly what you shouldn't do.

In the video clips below, Josh Hurst, industry veteran and current Director of Operations and Hospitality Josh Hurst for Pies & Pints, lays out the case for why when a competitor opens up nearby, the very best thing you can do is stay focused on your own business.

You need to continue doing what you do best, no matter how hard it might be.

Create a digital beer menu with one click

Last updated December 08, 2022 · By Dylan Blake

Digital beer menus are attention-grabbing and easy for customers to read. This makes life easier for your bartenders and makes the entire ordering process more efficient, which drives a significant increase in beverage sales.

But questions abound: how do I even create a digital beer menu? How can I actually get it onto a TV? And how can I avoid going through a whole updating rigmarole every time I kick a keg?

TV Menus from BeerMenus make it extremely easy.

How to nail supplier relationships (with bar owner and podcaster Zach Mack)

Last updated November 28, 2022 · By Dylan Blake

Supplier relationships are hard. Deliveries go wrong, a keg doesn't show, the wrong wine gets delivered. It's frustrating, especially since you're relying on accuracy and efficiency to run your bar or restaurant effectively.

So, what should you do when it goes wrong? How can you prevent it from going wrong in the first place? And where is that box of Cab you ordered from your distributor 6 months ago that was allegedly "delivered"?

Veteran bar owner and industry expert Zach Mack knows his way around these problems. In the below excerpts from our conversation with Zach, we cover:

  • What to do when a delivery goes wrong
  • When to cut ties with a supplier
  • How to make sure you're first in line for limited releases
  • The first things you should do when starting a new supplier relationship

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