Finding and Addressing Needs in Your Taproom

It can be vital for a brewery’s taproom staff to have a cohesive message in the way a beer is described.

As Jon Szajnuk, the Tasting Room Manager for Bozeman Brewing says, he wants his staff to be able to give the info, “without having robotic scripts.

“Knowing how the product is made and what makes it different gives our staff the opportunity to explain what a guest should expect out of any given beer and have the ability to dive deep or stay on the surface of information depending on how interested any guest may be at that time,” he explained. “I believe this cultivates a “meet them where they are” mentality with the guests.”

He add that having the brewers tell their own experience of the craft allows the public a chance to “get a glimpse of the magic” that happens in brewhouse for those customers that still see the art of brewing as a mystery.

“They will also be able to speak to those familiar with the brewing process already but may want to dive into the specifics of our operations,” Szajnuk added.

But Szajnuk also said that there are deficiencies in training, just as there are in any brewery. Brewer got input from numerous places across the country to speak on what they are working on getting better at to be more serviceable to their consumers.

For Szajnuk it’s carving out time to get the entire staff together at once.

“We have 12 beertenders for 14 shifts,” he explained. “This makes getting everyone on the same page and informed of new beers, how they are made and expanding their general knowledge a bit more difficult.

“I try to mitigate lapses in knowledge through email by informing them before they even walk in the door what is coming up.”

Brian Burton, Co-founder/Owner/Brewer, Hop & Sting: “Most important is welcoming new customers who don’t really know much about craft beer. Too many breweries and beer bars can come across as pretentious. That can turn a new, inexperienced customer off. So don’t scoff at the person who asks for “the lightest beer you have” or “what tastes like Coors Light?” Instead give them a sample of the lightest beer, but also ask what other beverages they like. Lots of people love coffee and dark chocolate. Give them a taste of a stout. There’s a good chance they’ll like it.

“Customers, both novice and nerd should leave the brewery feeling like they had a good time.  There is no reason to ignore one to accommodate the other.”

Oliver Adams, Operations Manager, Mother Road Brewing: “Any time we have cross-interactions between our brewers and our taproom hosts, Mother Road benefits. Our tap room hosts learn more about the beer they serve, and our brewers learn more about the guests that come through our doors. An example of this is the sensory panel that we run weekly.

“Typically we’re seeing that draft line system training, off-flavor training, and general brewing process training are the most beneficial to our tap room staff.”

Carlen Funk, Tasting Room Director, Monday Night Brewing: “Back when Monday Night Brewing first started, all of our beertenders were friends, family, and a handful of random folks who were in the right place at the right time. Basically, if you had a pulse and could pull a pint, we were cool with having you behind the bar. Naturally, as the company grew and became more structured, we realized putting a more official training program into place would be necessary.”

Dan Shapiro, Events & Sponsorship Coordinator, Angel City Brewery: “We want our staff to be as knowledgeable as possible so that they can guide the guests into not only learning about the beer but hopefully taking them out of their comfort zone a little bit. Educating on styles gives taproom servers an opportunity to surprise the guest, and hopefully create a truly memorable experience.”

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