Craft Beer Menu: Trends, Pairings, and Ways to Improve It

Nick Mirev
Table of Contents
    Thank you! Please check your inbox now for your welcome email.
    There was an issue with the form. Please try again.

    Some call it the craft beer revolution. Others just stick to their preferred beer brands and rarely try craft beers. However, everyone has noticed that craft beers are becoming increasingly popular. Many beer enthusiasts are starting a brewery of their own. According to the Brewers Association, there were less than 500 craft breweries back in 1994. In 2023, their number is expected to be above 10,000. That is why a lot of restaurants and other venues have a separate craft beer menu. They understand that the beer market is expanding and customers are expecting a variety of beer options to go well with their dish. In this article, we’ll explain what a beer menu is and what it should include. We’ll also give some ideas for food and beer pairings as well as some of the latest beer-related food and beverage industry trends.

    What Should a Restaurant’s Beer Menu Include

    Understandably, not all restaurants offer a large variety of beers. However, if you wish to attract ale enthusiasts, you should consider creating an interesting beer menu. It will not only improve the customer experience but also increase your restaurant’s profit margins. Let’s dive a little deeper into the main types of craft beers that should be included in the menu. 

    • Pale ale. They have a good balance of malt sweetness and hop bitterness. Pale ales are among the most consumed beers in the US. Make sure to include different types of pale ales, including American pale ale (APA) beers.
    • Indian pale ale (IPA). They are brewed using more hop which results in an increased bitterness and strong character. Some types of IPA beers have juicy, hazy, or citrus notes.
    • Stout and porter. Stout is undoubtedly the most popular dark beer. A lot of beer enthusiasts enjoy porters as well. Both stout and porter beers have a strong character. They can also have chocolate, caramel, coffee, and smoke notes.
    • Lager. Light lagers are refreshing and easy to drink. They are just a casual drink that’s especially popular on summer days.
    • Sour beer. They are an even more refreshing option for hot days. Keep in mind that not all beer enthusiasts enjoy sour beers. 
    • Other seasonal beers. Every season has notable flavors. In autumn, adding craft beer with notes of pumpkin to the menu can increase the profits of your venue. In winter, dark beers offer additional warmth. Make sure to regularly change the beer menu of your restaurant and add seasonal beers to it.
    • Local craft beers. People like to support their local communities. That’s why you should include beers produced by local breweries on the menu. 

    A beer menu should include not only beverages but also beer and food pairings. Beer is a versatile drink. It goes well with all types of dishes. From appetizers, through main meals, to desserts. For example, check out some beer and chocolate pairings

    Key takeaway: A restaurant’s beer menu should include a variety of beers. It should be regularly changed based on seasonality, availability, and customer preferences. The beer menu can also include beer and food pairings.
    craft beer free eBook

    Beer and Food Pairings

    One of the reasons for the growth of the beer industry is the fact that the beverage is universal. It can be combined with many dishes, there are beers with many flavors, and it can be both refreshing and tasty.

    When offering combinations of beers and meals, take into account the preferences of your venue’s guests. Additionally, do proper training for your waiters so that they can recommend the right beers to complement the dishes ordered by customers. This will not only increase the profits of your restaurant, but it will also show clients that the staff is experienced, well-trained, and prepared to offer excellent service.

    Lager and Pilsner Pairings

    These light beers go well with seafood like shrimp or fish dishes. Another option for a meal to consume with a glass of cold lager is a light salad or another vegetable dish. Like most beers, they go well with sausages too.

    Stout and Porter Pairings

    As typical representatives of dark beers, they go well with roasted or grilled meats such as barbecue ribs or steaks. A strong dark beer can complement desserts as well. Some examples include brownies, chocolate cakes, and other heavy and sweet desserts.

    Pale Ale and IPA

    The bitterness of these beers makes them a great pairing for spicy food. Additionally, they can be combined excellently with a juicy burger or chicken dishes. Just like dark beers, pale ales go well with desserts. However, they usually can be combined with citrusy desserts like tarts.

    Sour Beer and Gose

    The sourness of these beverages can complement well fresh seafood dishes like oysters. They can be combined with salads with vinaigrette dressings too.

    demo request BlueCart

    Latest Trends in the Craft Beer Industry

    The only constant is change. For the past years, the craft beer market has changed drastically. Businesses that have stayed up to date with the trends have benefited from the craft beer revolution. Let’s examine some of the current and future trends.

    Low-ABV and Non-Alcoholic Options

    Consumers seeking a refreshing drink with little or no alcohol content give craft breweries a lot of room to grow. These beers also allow clients to enjoy multiple servings without the negative effects of intoxication. 

    Collaboration Beers

    Breweries can combine their efforts and offer beers that are unique and incorporate the characteristics of both producers. This exchange of know-how is exactly what drives the industry forward. Furthermore, combining the efforts of two brands can be used as a form of beer marketing.

    Specialty Flavors

    Using unique spices, exotic fruits, or other ingredients that are not typical for the beer industry is what makes craft beers interesting. We will most certainly see more and more new flavors added to beers.

    Focus on Sustainable Practices

    Breweries should strive to use eco-friendly practices to answer the market’s demands. Minimizing energy consumption, waste, and water usage is a good starting point. Additionally, if a brewery offers a beer delivery subscription, it can use only recycled materials for the box and everything inside it. It can partner with eco-friendly businesses when shipping beer or work with producers of hops and malts that have incorporated sustainable practices as well.

    More Focus on Local

    Craft brewers often strive to use locally-produced ingredients. That can be incorporated by restaurants as well. Your guests will be eager to support locally-produced craft beers instead of one of the big brands.

    Revolution Ordering demo

    Frequently Asked Questions about Craft Beer Menus

    The fact that the restaurant industry is constantly changing means you should adapt. And the easiest way to do that is to search online for trends you can incorporate into your venue and business. Our article on craft beer menus might have answered some of your questions. Nevertheless, below you’ll find some additional popular questions and their answers.

    Standard or QR Code Beer Menu?

    Even though many customers prefer to see an old-fashioned type of menu, there are many benefits of QR codes for menus. The main advantage is that you can easily change prices and add or remove items from the menu. That’s especially useful for pubs or restaurants that often change their beer on tap. SproutQR is a reliable solution for restaurant QR menus.

    How to Organize a Beer Menu?

    The items in a beer menu should be organized vertically by type, flavor, and origin. Additionally, you can add popular beer food pairings. If your venue offers only a few beer options, you can also include a short description of them. Having a small beer menu is not necessarily a disadvantage if you offer the most-preferred beer options. Additionally, this means you can order large quantities of wholesale beer and increase profits by working with beer distributors.

    Beer on Tap or from a Bottle?

    Many customers prefer beer on tap instead of in a bottle. That way, they know that the beverage is fresh. Additionally, the same beer is usually more expensive if it's bottled or canned. Drinking beer on tap is also a more eco-friendly approach compared to drinking bottled or canned beer. Even though these materials are recycled, it requires energy to recycle them and use them again.

    Book a Demo
    Streamline order management, grow your bottom line, and get back hours of your time with BlueCart. Schedule a demo now:
    Thank you! Your submission has been received!
    Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.