Cider Corner: Taste & See; Educating Employees to Educate Consumers

Communicating your cidery’s vision of products means constant back-and-forth with staff members. Creating those connections helps embolden tasting room and sales staff members to further encourage consumers and retailers to know more as well.

It starts with the education of the staff before the first pint is tapped or packaged product is sent out for sale.

“I feel that strong communication from the brewmaster to the tasting room staff is the best education you can receive,” said James West, Saro Cider Tasting Room Manager. “Being a week ahead of a new release gives time for staff to educate themselves prior to release.”

The Lincoln, Nebraska cidery has spec sheets available while having a small tasting with the brewmaster creates conversation amongst staff to be able to ask any questions someone may have about a flavor profile or a process used — like barrel aging or having it on a nitro tap — to help them communicate that better to a consumer.

“Tasting it is the best way to educate,” added Brooke Glover, the co-founder of Swilled Dog Hard Cider. “[So is] having an open discussion on taste, smell, color, texture with our team so they can communicate with customers on how special each cider is.”

The West Virginia cidery gives detailed information on its menus but the staff walks through each cider with customers as well.

“Ingredients also need to be given special consideration, especially because quality is paramount,” Glover said. “For instance, our Pumpkin Patch is a very difficult cider to make so it is important to walk through the process at a high level with customers so they know that we care about quality even when it is a time consuming/painstaking process.”

All products for 2 Towns Ciderhouse staff members are introduced to the team during company-wide meetings.

“This opens the door for discussion and allows questions from many different angles,” Madison Shirley told Brewer. “Production will have different questions than the sales team but having all employees know the answers to both dynamics extends knowledge in both directions.”

From there, all employees are encouraged to taste the product and discuss their experiences with others.

“This continues the education in an organic fashion but may also quickly answer a simple question anyone may have by relying on their peers,” Shirley added. “Typically, just prior to product release, our head cidermaker will send out an email detailing relevant talking points, specific production details, ideal pairings, and any odd trivia.

“With this information, we are prepared for most questions that the world will have for us. We also are always open to answering questions as we go and will openly admit when we are unsure of an answer but seek the information from someone who will know. No questions are left unanswered.”

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