Cider Corner: How to Fight For a Line at a Local Beer Bar

​Although telling your brand’s story in person and at the source is the best way to connect with consumers, getting the liquid into a craft beverage bar can be important as well.

And while it can be hard to separate emotion and the passion your cidery has for its product, it is a commodity made to be sold. Ploughman Cider‘s Ben Wenk shared with Brewer what he has to remember when he is working with draft accounts and getting a keg of his cider on a line at a local establishment.

“The most important thing for us is to understand where your buyer is coming from,” he said. “Know how they’re going to make a buck with your product.

“It’s easy to talk about how your product tastes and who it appeals to. To know how it’ll make money for their bar or package shop is the most important thing.”

That means going into a meeting with a new cider buyer by knowing your numbers, figuring out their margins, and knowing their neighborhood and their customers.

“Build a relationship with them,” Wenk said. “That’s what it’s all about.

“Every joint is different too! Learn about the people, learn what makes each account unique.”

The number one step for Swilled Dog is to have the buyer try it.

“We really believe in the liquid and once they try our ciders, they know their customers will love it if they put it on tap,” Brooke Glover said. “Besides having the buyer try it, a relationship with the buyer is extremely important.

“We offer to be there to help support the brand, which buyers appreciate.”

A funny anecdote Glover shared was she said they have introduced the cidery’s mascot, her dog Lucy Pickles, to the buyer.

“That seals the deal every time,” Glover said jokingly. “It is next to impossible to say no to the fluffiness.

“In all seriousness though, our philosophy is to do a good job telling our story and why we are different, which allows the buyer and the entire bar/restaurant staff to connect with our brand and tell our story. The staff can help us connect with consumers if they believe in our brand and our philosophy of giving back.”

Wenk added that success comes when you build a relationship on mutual trust and respect.

“Get to know them, let them get to know you,” he added. “Just be your own comfortable self! The more you know about the people and the clientele they’re attracting to their place, it’ll make for an easier and more fruitful conversation.”

He added that it doesn’t hurt to be “charmingly persistent.”

“If you can show up over and over again, each time with a smile on your face, and you’re certain your product is a slam dunk fit, they’ll buy,” he said. “It just might take a bunch of trips.”

Of course, canning and bottling product is important as well, especially since the pandemic has hit, while fewer consumers are buying from on-premise draft accounts.​

Brooklyn Cider House and Twin Star Orchards​ founder Peter Yi said that they​ have fans among beer lovers and wine lovers​ and that means different ways to distribute to different off-premise accounts.

“Our beer distributor focuses on cans, while the wine distributor works with the bottles​,” Yi said. “My beer wholesaler asked us to start offering cans so we launched that last year. Those are really popular in grocery stores like Whole Foods and Eataly.

​”​Our rose cider has been a big hit the past two summers as well.​”​

Photo courtesy Swilled Dog

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