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  • Peter Bouloukos

Craft Beer Math, Burgers, Bacon & Innovation in Restaurants Today!

The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro introduced "Believe in Baconism" a "limited-time" menu in Fall of 2013. It consisted of a deep-fried bacon app, three bacon-ladenburgers and a milkshake with bacon all capitalizing on the continued evolution of the bacon trend in America. Now The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro has a new menu in line with the craft beer trend. They have beer pairings and combinations such as "The Beer Goggle Burger" a 100 percent beef patty beer-battered then topped with bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onions and a Moosehead Beer infused cheddar cheese sauce...among other well-named and creative selections focused on including beer! Beer based and bacon infused sauces are a huge trend many miss because the demand is literally right in front of them each day! Honoring passion for great craft beer and delicious bacon creates the potential for goodwill, fun and coveted social networking "shares" or modern "word of mouth" advertising.

Next, with craft beer sales booming over the past twenty years, operators might consider incorporating popular or local craft brews into entrées, appetizers and desserts. My hometown of Bozeman, Montana has a passionate and educated populous when it comes to craft beer and supporting local entrepreneurs. Montana has some of the best craft breweries in the world in my humble opinion.

How about Wilcoxson's Moosetracks Ice Cream infused with a Lone Peak Hippie Highway Oatmeal Stout poured from a nitro tap?

What about a Bozone Brewery Amber Ale braised pulled pork pizza featuring a hickory-smoked pork, chipotle tomato & pablono pesto sauce, red onions, bell peppers, mozzarella and smoked cheddar cheese? Beer Selection? Rule of Thumb: For every dozen tap handles, offer one domestic. If you have more than three dozen tap handles, you don't need a fourth domestic on draft. The domestic beer drinker will enjoy his/her beer out of the bottle or can for that matter. Personally, I don't put domestics on my draft lines if I don't absolutely have to and nobody misses it. In-fact the domestic draft drinkers usually discover something new! Support local and regional breweries and educate the staff about why this is important to success and core values. Keg Math: Some owners and operators falsely believe craft or premium beers are too expensive. But they don't know the math or residual effect of defining offers by quality and character rather than up-front liabilities. The math is simple by the way!!! Let's say a Keg of Domestic Beer is $105. Let's say a keg of craft beer is $140. At 130 pints per keg I receive $650 gross and $510 in profit per premium keg. For the domestic it's $520 gross and $415 in profit per keg.

Which keg is the "liability?"

Pouring just one keg of craft beer almost pays for the entire second keg in profit differential. Depending on price points and the market, craft beer profit differential pays for the second keg! If I told you for $140 investment I could give you 230 pints of beer total compared to that $105 domestic purchase (100 pint difference conservatively)...would you think about supporting the craft brewery? Now add in the hundreds of "free" pints the profit difference between craft and premium kegs creates per week...the math makes dollars, cents and sense!

Quality of offerings can also be measured in public perception and the dollars they are willing to spend!!!

Another thing I have done is offering "Beer School" and "Beer Dinners" for both staff and guests. One beer dinner ran six courses and was finished with the above Moosetrack Oatmeal Stout "shake." We had just over 30 people at this dinner but it left a lasting impression for sure! Remember, you can't always be everything to everyone but do the best you can to be something to someone! Regardless if it is bacon, craft beer - another trend or "staple," be innovative and share whatever you do with integrity and great passion!

Yours in Success, Peter Dean Bouloukos

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