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How to store drinks while pubs are shut

By Stuart Stone contact

- Last updated on GMT

Storage tips: wine bottles often suit being stored on their side while spirits should be stored upright, according to Liam Manton of Alderman’s Drinks
Storage tips: wine bottles often suit being stored on their side while spirits should be stored upright, according to Liam Manton of Alderman’s Drinks

Related tags: Coronavirus, Alcoholic beverage, Public house, Beer, Soft drinks

Experts from the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA), Guinness, Alderman’s Drinks and High Speed Training explain how pubs can best store drink stock left behind during the Covid-19 shutdown.

“For soft drinks, it is essential that good housekeeping and hygiene practises are employed,” a spokesperson from the BSDA advised.

“Cases of drinks, be they bottles, cans or bag-in-box products should be kept in cool, dry and clean conditions. When closing down dispense systems, operators should contact the system provider. 

“Dispense nozzles should be cleaned and left dry, following the BSDA dispense hygiene guide. When reopening dispense systems, operators should contact the system provider, as well as checking ‘best before end’ dates and only using in-date products on all soft drink stocks.”

Managing room conditions

Adam Miller, head of Guinness quality, reiterated that unopened ambient drinks such as bottled beer, wine and soft drinks must be stored safely in a cool, dry and dark place while pubs are closed.

He said: “Changes in room conditions, including light and temperature can affect the flavour and quality of the drink. Therefore, it is important to maintain consistent storage conditions.  

“Care for draught beer lines is vital and cleaning should be thorough, ensuring no beer or yeast remains before lines are disconnected. 

“Once cleaned, all dispense lines should be blown through. It is important the lines are not left charged with either water or cleaning fluid because this can cause irrevocable damage to the system. 

“When trading resumes, the quality of the drinks and sell-by dates should be checked, and draught beer lines should be cleaned again to ensure fresh-tasting, high-quality beer is poured.”

  • Read more advice on how to best to close down your pub cellar with tips on keg, cask, postmix drinks and reopening here​.​ 

Preserving liquid quality

Liam Manton, co-founder of Alderman’s Drinks – the company behind Didsbury Gin and Arlu Rum – explains that while both gin and rum are “very stable spirits” and that, if unopened, both should retain their quality and flavour for years, there are steps publicans can take to preserve key spirits.

“To preserve the liquid for as long as possible, operators should store most of their key spirits in a place on the cooler side of room temperature, out of direct sunlight,” he says. 

“The simplest way to make the most of space is to place them back in a box or if you’ve already recycled those, just chuck a heavy cloth over them.

“In comparison to wine bottles, which often suit being stored on their side, spirits should ideally be stored upright.

“If any bottles have been left half-full, they are more prone to oxidisation which can alter the flavour and ‘punch’ of the spirit so remember to remove pourers and replace with a tight seal. 

“Any unsealed lids will allow the liquid to evaporate faster and since alcohol evaporates faster than water, the spirit inside may become weaker in ABV as time goes by.”

Chance for a thorough stock take

Sarah Taylor, hospitality specialist at online training provider High Speed Training, adds that the ongoing coronavirus lockdown offers pub operators a unique window to examine their existing drinks stock with a fine-tooth comb. 

“It’s a job that notoriously takes many hours and is best avoided during normal service,” she says. “There is now the opportunity to use the closure as a chance to ensure all wine, spirits, soft drinks and beer are reviewed while putting them in safe and secure storage. 

“Performing a thorough stock-take will also alert you to any stock that is due to go out of date – make sure you use this first when you reopen and ensure newer stock is put to the back to avoid any confusion when trading resumes. 

“Having this time to organise your drinks storage is a good excuse to give your stock control methods a good overhaul – set it up now to make your life easier when trading resumes.

“Also, use your time to check the purchase prices and consider any sale price adjustments or promotions you can confidently offer when you reopen.”

Related topics: Soft & Hot Drinks, UnitedWeStand

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