For restaurants and bars that position themselves as specialty beer havens, the menus they offer have a great influence on how successful they are. If you own an establishment that you're branding as a specialty beer destination, here's how to develop a beer menu that will help your restaurant or bar succeed.

Skip the Mainline Beers

First and foremost, make the decision to skip mainline beers that are sold at most bars, restaurants and convenience stores throughout the country. This can be a difficult decision, as these beers are inexpensive and popular. If you want your establishment to truly be known as a specialty beer destination, however, it's essential to forgo the popular national beers.

Carrying mainline beers will be derimental to your reputation, as it shows that your establishment panders to the tastes of the masses. Even if you have both mainline and lesser-known beers, beer connoisseurs will be distracted by the non-craft beers that are on your menu.

Forgoing mainline beers doesn't mean your establishment has to ignore the tastes of patrons who might want these beers. Instead of carrying the nationally known brands, look for lesser-known beers that have similar tastes and low price points. These beers will appeal to the customers who ask for mainline beers without putting off craft beer connoisseurs.

Choose a Region to Specialize In

Instead of simply specializing in craft beer, choose a particular region of the work to specialize in. For example, you might specialize in Belgian, British or even South American beers.

By specializing in a specific region, you'll set your bar or establishment apart from other specialty beer places. You won't just be a specialty beer establishment. It'll be the Belgian or British specialty establishment.

Customers who are interested in these beers will seek your place out as a destination, and those who aren't familiar with beers from your chosen region will have an excuse to try something they otherwise might not have.

Pick Similar Beers from Local Brewers

Once you have a region chosen, you'll likely fall into a particular style of beer that your menu will specialize in. This is because many styles are associated with certain countries or regions. For example, Russian imperial stouts are from Russia, Belgium is known for its dubbles and tripels, and Scotland and Ireland have many red ales.

With your specific style in mind, scour the beers offered by local brewers for ones that are in the same style. This will bring in beers from another area (your local region) that fit with those already on your menu. It will likely also give patrons a chance to taste different local brewers' beers side-by-side, as several local brewers likely offer beers in the style you're specializing in.

Round Out the Menu with a Couple Different Beers

At this point, you should have a fairly full menu of beers that are within a general style. While many people will be interested in trying the style you're focusing on, a few patrons may know they prefer different styles.

To appeal to these patrons, add a couple of beers that are completely different from what you have selected thus far. For instance, if you're focusing on lighter Belgian dubbels and tripels, add a couple of darker beers—an oatmeal stout and a taddy porter might be good choices.

Adding a couple different choices will ensure everyone has something they like without detracting from your menu's chosen specialty. As long as these are high-end beers, they also won't undermine your establishment's positioning as a specialty beer destination.

For help planning your establishment's specialty beer menu, contact us at Balson Beer Distributor Inc.