Bud Light, Coors Light, and Miller Lite may be the most-recognized names in the beer industry, but smaller names are making some big noise at the bar. Last year, the Brewers Association reported a 6-percent increase in volume and a 10-percent increase in dollar value for small and independent craft brewers across America.
Beer makers north of the border are raising their glasses to the rise in craft-beer popularity, too.
As he was gearing up for the Alberta Craft Brewing Convention at the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre on March 12–14, Don Tse, a 20-year veteran of the beer industry in Alberta and official beer taster at Craft Beer Importers Canada, shared his thoughts on how to capitalize on this beverage trend at business events. As you look ahead to the menu at your next reception, consider these three key lessons for serving up suds.
1) Beer Is Serious Business for Some of Your Attendees.
Many attendees might be sampling limited-edition bottles of barrel-aged stouts and grapefruit IPAs on the craft-beer bandwagon, but those in charge of the catering service may not be fully onboard yet. “Food-and-beverage directors often agonize over the shape of the weight, the weight of the plate, and how the napkin is folded, but for beer, they just serve mass-produced beer,” Tse said. “If you acknowledge that the shape of a fork affects a person’s enjoyment of a meal, you should also acknowledge that the beer you serve and how you serve it also affects the experience. Hotels and conferences should be aware that people care about beer now. They take it more seriously.”
2) The Next Wave of Beer Innovation Might Not Include Any Booze.
People don’t just care about beer, though. They also care about their well-being. As the wellness movement makes business travelers rethink how much they should drink at the hotel bar, the beer industry will aim to keep their glasses filled without the guilt. “Non-alcoholic beer seems to be on the brink of becoming a movement,” Tse said. “It’s a concept that I’m pretty excited about. After all, the craft-beer drinker claims to care about flavor, so we’ll find out if they like flavors without the alcohol.”
In fact, Carlos Brito, the CEO of Anheuser-Busch InBev, has discussed investing heavily in non-alcoholic beer, Tse pointed out, and he expects the rest of the industry to follow the lead of the biggest name in beer.
3) Beer Can Play a Role in Building a Less-Intimidating Environment.
The other side of the bar menu — the wine list — can often make attendees who are not well-versed in the swirling and sniffing tasting exercises of red and white varietals feel uncomfortable. While beers have just as many unique flavor pairings as wine, Tse thinks that pint glasses can feel more inviting.
“The public is beginning to agree that beer is just as interesting [as wine], but it doesn’t have a level of pretension around it,” Tse said. “People can feel intimated by wine and whether their bosses or someone else might judge them about their lack of knowledge of the formalities of tasting wine. But people aren’t as afraid of beer.”
Calgary: In the Spotlight of the Beer Industry
This article was brought to you by Meetings + Conventions Calgary. The city has been establishing a position at the top of the craft beer industry, and in 2019, that rank will climb even higher when the city welcomes the Master Brewers Conference. Calgary has more than beer, though. Click here to learn about the people, the culture, and the reasons why other event organizers are adding Calgary to their consideration sets.