Smith told Publican’s Morning Advertiser that licensees and staff need to know products inside-out and be capable of making recommendations to a customer base with an ever-increasing knowledge of beer.
“There’s a new generation of beer drinkers who are more adventurous and are prepared to take a risk. If it’s packed full of flavour they want to try it, they’re a new breed,” she said.
“It’s dangerous if a customer knows more about a product than you do. You need to stay one step ahead of the game.”
The beer sommelier warned that adding a few full flavoured beers to the bar isn’t a ‘silver bullet’ to drive trade.
“You need the right glassware, products and knowledge. If you get that right it can be a real turning point for a pub and a point of difference,” she said.
A beer for everyone
“Beer doesn’t have that old man’s image any more, and it’s not as gender specific. I genuinely believe there’s a beer out there for everyone.”
To grow the category by converting non-beer drinkers, she suggested finding out customers’ drink preferences and recommending a beer to match their preference, or offering a wheat beer or smaller measure.
“The first experience a lot of people had with beer was either extremely bitter or poor quality, and they think that’s what all beer must taste like. The quality has improved so much,” she continued.
“I‘ve had friends who don’t think they like beer, who have tried a fruit beer and said ‘that isn’t beer’ and really enjoyed it.”
The sommelier was a licensee in Yorkshire for over a decade. After five years as a trainer at Diageo she joined Cask Marque, and in 2012 qualified as a beer sommelier.
Beer and food matching
Smith, who has been working with pan-industry campaign There’s A Beer For That, said licensees should also utilise beer and food matching.
“A lot of people are confident about recommending wine with food, but people need to get more confident offering beer with food,” she said.
“Pub food lends itself really well to food matching - from standard lagers down to premium craft beers. If you go for a curry, most people will have a lager so it’s not that alien a concept,” she added.
Smith has teamed up with Enterprise Inns to promote beer development and will be answer beer-related questions from tenants and offer advice in the pubco’s magazine.