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Ideas for adding food to the menu at your brewery's taproom and patio

As breweries continue to position themselves locally and focus on building out their craft and their brand, they are also adapting their business and offering their customers not only a great sampling of craft beer, but a variety of food options as well.

There are a variety of foodservice opportunities for breweries and the benefits of adding food can be compelling. Embracing a brewpub-style model, gives customers more of an all-inclusive experience. This update in service is paying off for craft breweries across the country and resulting in greater customer loyalty and an increase in return visits.

Breweries that have chosen to partner with a restauranteur – a fairly common relationship in the industry – are able to offer their customers the option to order from a nice selection of menu options alongside their newest craft beers. This arrangement allows the brewer to continue focusing on their craft beer skills and not be bogged down with the day-to-day operations of running a restaurant.

Of course, it’s also not uncommon for craft breweries to go all in and develop, staff and maintain their own kitchen and menu. This might be a more involved process that takes longer to develop and nurture but, for many, it places them on the path to reaching their ultimate business goals.

Regardless of the food choices that are made, quality remains as the number one concern for the brewery owner. Where they were previously focused exclusively on the quality of their craft beer – ensuring that taste and freshness are consistent– they must now also focus on the quality of their food.

All it takes is one bad experience to lose a customer. And the fear of losing additional customers based on word of mouth and the swift role social media plays in these situations can be devastating. Thankfully, the opposite is just as true. Customers that have a memorable experience will help solidify your standing among the competition and often turn first time customers into regulars.

Beer and Food

Not to be overlooked or ignored is the added appeal of fresh air, sunny skies and clear nights. Taking advantage of warm weather and providing additional seating options with an outdoor patio space often results in increased business and a greater opportunity to turn more tables.

A well-designed patio is essential for your staff. Just as important is the need to provide your customers with a comfortable and inviting space; one that enhances the experience and promotes your brand. Whether you’re aiming for a rustic look with wooden picnic tables or a more modern feel with metal chairs and cushions, make sure that it aligns with the rest of your business. Ambiance should be a key component when providing an outdoor space for your customers.

It won’t take long for your guests – whether first time customers or longtime regulars – to quickly realize that when the environment and patio space are in alignment, nothing goes together better than great beer and great food. Customers appreciate a well-crafted pairing and understand that it maximizes the enjoyment of both. They will come to trust your expertise and look forward to experimenting with new meals alongside their favorite craft beers.

If you've never offered pairings before and are looking for some initial suggestions, here are few basic guidelines to consider and get you started:

BOCK

Pair with: Powerfully flavored or spicy foods

Why? The malty, sweet taste of Bock beer compliments the savory and sweet flavors and spices

Menu ideas: Cajun dishes, dark chocolate, BBQ pork, jerk chicken

Suggested glass: Goblet/chalice or tulip

LAMBIC

Pair with: Foods with lots of herbs and sweet components

Why? The tart lambic flavor balances the richness in sweet and herby dishes, keeping both components in check

Menu ideas: Roasted duck, fruit cobblers or pastries, shellfish

Suggested glass: Tulip

PALE ALE

Pair with: Rich comfort food

Why? The hoppy flavors of pale ales complement roast flavors. Plus, high fat content neutralizes the hops’ bitterness

Menu ideas: Roasted meats, pizza, chicken curry

Suggested glass: Pint or tulip

PILSNER

Pair with: Lighter fare

Why? Pilsners are clean and crisp, complementing lighter dishes

Menu ideas: Fish tacos, sushi, wild rice, fresh salad

Suggested glass: Pilsner, of course!

PORTER

Pair with: Fatty, rich dishes

Why? The dark and roast flavors cut through fat and strong flavors, mixing for a complex taste profile

Menu ideas: Smoked meats, meatloaf, chili

Suggested glass: Pint

STOUT

Pair with: Foods that are less sweet than the stout

Why? Stouts bring out umami and balance sweetness with richness

Menu ideas: Charred meat, bittersweet chocolate, rich stews, roasted vegetables

Suggested glass: Pint or specialty stout glass

WHEAT

Food Pairing: Light dishes and citrus flavors

Why? These foods add richness to the beer, while the beer balances salt and acidity, cleansing the palate

Menu ideas: Salads with fruity dressing, vegetarian fare, ceviche, citrus-forward desserts

Suggested glass: Weizen

Want more ideas to get started? Speak with one our experts to discuss foodservice supplies and drinkware solutions that fit your business!

Topics: Beverage

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