Keys for Educating Taproom Staff on New Releases

New beers are always going on tap, so keeping your taproom bar staff up to date on style and information can be vital to help consumers understand the new brand.

Every week, Braxton Brewing conducts organized tastings led by the brewing and quality assurance team. In these tastings, Greg Rouse, the Covington, Kentucky brewery’s co-founder and COO, said employees take a deep dive into all of the new products or those about to be released.

“We are a communication heavy company,” he said, which is key for any brewery. “In addition to arming our team with all of the information they need to speak knowledgeably about our products, they continually review and discuss our products with our bar management team.”

Each of Reuben’s Brews’ servers has acquired the first level of the Cicerone certification as a Certified Beer Server.

“Even servers with no prior experience, the ability to talk through different beer styles are the table stakes to be able to serve at our brewery,” explained co-founder Grace Robbings. “Our cross-training opportunities also provide our servers a lot of context and understanding about our beers and how they’re made.”

Monthly taproom team meetings offer the opportunity to compare and contrast beers.  Sometimes the company’s co-founder and Brewmaster — Adam Robbings — will sit in with the entire team to sample four of the Seattle brewery’s top-selling IPAs to discuss the differences in malts, mash temps, bitterness level, dry hops, and other processes.

However, last year Reuben’s Brews created over 140 different beers, so getting this information out on new beers in a timely way does prove challenging.

“To help, we use an internal communication tool (Slack) to provide the team with information about, descriptions of, and the story behind new beers,” Robbings said. “In addition, our menu board is designed very deliberately to both invite the new beer lover in with easy-to-understand categories and to provide detailed information and tasting notes to the seasoned beer geeks.”

When it comes to new hires, Rouse said that Braxton begins with a familiarization process with all the brewery’s products.

“They participate in tastings, have full access to tasting notes and a requirement to learn them, and have free reign to ask questions of any member of the brewing team to drive a deeper understanding of our product lineup,” he said.

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