70 Rotating Taps – Our Logic
As the bar manager, I am often asked how we decide to put a beer on the menu, or why we carry the beers that we do. I used to work with wine, and I approach our beer menu in much the same way as a well curated wine list. My goal is to provide choices that will appeal to a broad category of individuals, from novice to expert, first time craft beer drinker to seasoned enthusiast.
With 72 draft lines, I feel this is possible but also very challenging. There are no shortage of options for craft beer drinkers, with over 70 breweries in the State and about 3,000 nationwide. Each brewery may have half a dozen or more year round products, supplanted with seasonal, limited, and rotating offerings.
In the United States, we in the restaurant business have to work through what is called the Three Tier System. This includes producers/importers, distributors, and Off and On premise retailers (restaurants and liquor stores). If I want a certain product, I have to go through the proper legal channels. This means that if an item is not represented in our area of distribution, we cannot legally carry it.
There are minor exceptions to the Three Tier System, such as brewpubs being able to sell growlers directly to consumers, and small breweries that self-distribute. Many small breweries do not have the infrastructure or production capacity to sell in our area even though we would like them to.
Very often I look at trends, to see which kegs we’re moving through the fastest. Since our opening April 1st, 2015 this has been Pilsner/Blonde/Lager beers and certain Wheat, Cider, and Amber options. I’m very happy to say that we have no issue turning product over, which was initially one of my greatest fears.
The Beer Judge Certification Program beer style guidelines have been of great help in defining categories. By studying this document, I try to keep an even distribution across broad styles. Inevitably, there are times when the list is skewed in one direction. The goal is always to get back to a level of homeostasis, while working with the beers and distributors that are available to us at any given moment.
Remember that our list is dynamic, updated on a near daily basis in store and online. If you do not see your favorite beer, do not fear! There’s a good chance that we will have a tasty option that is similar.
At the end of the day, it’s impossible to appeal to all tastes all the time. Our hope is that you’ll come in and be able to ask with confidence which beers may appeal to you, and that you’ll find a new (or old) favorite to enjoy.
Note: We only carry craft beers on draft. If you are looking for domestic light options, we have several to choose from in bottles, in addition to our specialty selections.