If you don’t then a portal will open behind your cooler and drag you into an evil Narnia where your customers will be sick in your face for all eternity.
Cellar equipment is the most expensive thing in the world, ever – more expensive than gold and no one can fix it if it goes wrong except for the mystical ‘tech services’, people employed by said brewers so you ‘must’ always have at least three of their beers on your bar to enable a Zen-like state. Also this will enable at least four out of five pubs in the UK to sell identical products, which is the end game isn’t it? We must make all pubs the same for the greater good.
It turns out, however, that you can strike up a pretty good relationship with your local wholesaler who will be happy to look after your cellar equipment.
So hold up, this earthshatteringly anarchic piece of information means you can actually sell whatever you want in your pub?
You can properly go all ‘kid in a sweet shop’. It can be a logistical nightmare but, in principle, this is exactly what you can do.
The Drawing Board, in Leamington Spa, does exactly this. We use Inn Express as our supplier for the bulk of what we order and they look after most of our cellar equipment using a local independent company.
That’s not our sole supplier as that would make us, basically, tied – which would suck. We work with three local breweries weekly for permanent listings including our own brews: Elephant Wash, a red IPA with Old Pie Factory and, imminently, our new session pale ale: Camoufleur with Church Farm Brewery and Purity. We then take our premium German lager and Weiss beer, Rothaus, from Black Forest Beers. We also use other wholesalers or go direct to breweries. We have one rotating Tiny Rebel tap, one Beavertown tap and two craft ‘whatever the hell we can find’ taps. We have just opened a bottle shop, which enables us to force yet more beer on people that had no idea they wanted any. This has another two taps and over 130 different beers in cans and bottles. We set alarms on our phones so we can get the best deals on hard-to-find products but also try and woo brewers to meeting the general public at our events. We pester brewers we think would be good to work with, we call them, turn up, wait outside their houses…you get the gist. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Having staff who want to help wean customers off their familiar addictions is an enormous help in these situations. The face of fear when, say, a ‘Carling’ is not available on the bar is entirely salvageable. When you realise you don’t have to use a ‘majority brewer’, you can create something very special.