Educating Your Taproom Serving Team

Making sure your taproom team is in line with your brewery’s story and updates to the beers the brew team is pumping out is vital for a thriving brewery.

It can start with some basics of beer and evolve to a point where you have very-well trained servers on hand that can help raise the experience a consumer can have at your establishment.

“The connection with our brewery and beer is a big reason as to why some people come into a brewery taproom as opposed to a general bar or restaurant,” explained Ryan Duley of Sunriver Brewing.

His staff has a 25-question quiz that they have to pass in order to work in the front of house.  Every quarter the questions change a little and they get retested. They also do some sensory training, mostly with supervisor staff.

“The front of house employees get stoked to be a part of the brewery and visa versa,” Duley added.

Brewer asked various breweries across the country to share their training ideas for their staffs.

Pat Velten – Director of Sales, Everybody’s Brewing:

“We have a “beer boot camp” that we put all of our new servers through. It insures that all of our servers have a baseline of knowledge that way above the average customer. The test they must take is actually pretty tough, so it also helps weed out potential servers who have no interest in learning about beer. Beyond that, our head brewer does a briefing with the front of house staff each time a new beer comes out.”

Dan Shapiro – Events & Sponsorship Coordinator, Angel City Brewery:

“We hire our taproom staff based on their hospitality skills and passion, but we still want them to be as knowledgeable about beer as possible, and more importantly, provide the opportunities for everyone to learn more about the field. That’s why every bartender, bar back, and greeter gets training and certification to become a Certified Beer Server, and we offer the opportunity for our staff to become Certified Cicerones.”

Brian Burton – Co-founder/Owner/Brewer, Hop & Sting:

“Our taproom staff are often the first people our customers meet as representatives of our brewery. It is important that our staff is friendly and patient enough to welcome the craft beer novice, but also knowledgeable enough to entertain the biggest beer nerd. [Co-founder] Jon Powell is a Level 2 Cicerone and he oversees most of the staff training. We are implementing a program that involves sensory training, proper pouring, equipment maintenance (line cleaning, faucet repair, etc). We encourage all of our staff to at least attempt the Level 1 Cicerone.”

David Kant-Rauch – Lead Brewer, Proof Brewing:

“In addition to safety and job specific training, all employees receive training on beer history, ingredients, process and tasting. Additionally, we hold periodic off-flavor training which is required for all managers, production and sales staff but is open to all employees. Each bartender, sales person and production employee is required to be Cicerone Beer Server certified which the company pays for. All employees can become Beer Server Certified if they wish. The front of the house is the face of the company. Our taproom is the best marketing tool we have, and knowledgeable staff are critical to the experience. We are constantly working on educational programs to further the knowledge of all employees. We have done some pilot work on food and beer pairings which we hope to make more standard in the future.”

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