I’ve been in the service industry for a very long time now and I’ve noticed a thing or three about customers’ tastes and beverage selection processes. In a restaurant environment, large-format beer bottles have a tough time selling.
The 22-oz “bomber” bottles – as they’re known – and 25.4-oz can have liquid gold in them yet, for some reason they just end up sitting on the shelf taking space. I gave that a thought. Is the beer no good? Certainly not. Is it a matter of price? Not if you do the math and realize that you’re liable to spend more on two “regular-size” beers when the large bottles are either 1 pint 6 oz or 1 pint 9 oz.
What is the issue then? The answer dawned on me and it’s interesting. If I’m right it means that beer drinkers are choosier than wine drinkers.
The large packaging implies sharing. If you’re drinking the equivalent of a bottle of wine by yourself, it’s probably going to get warm before you finish. So what’s so hard about sharing, then?
Think of it this way. Two couples go out to dinner and one of the four asks if anyone would like to have some of the bottle of wine being bought. Most times they’ll ask “What are you getting?” to which it’s almost always “chardonnay” or “cabernet.” The average person will think to themselves “Yeah, I can drink a red or white” depending upon what they plan to order off the menu. Unless they really know their wine, they’re not going to get fussy over varietals, terroir or country of origin.
Do the same thing with beer and they’ll ask “What are you getting?” Oh, that? No, I’m not really a fan of hoppy beer or I’m not in the mood for an imperial stout or – even worse – I’ll just have a light beer. Beer drinkers, even the average non-snooty ones who have limited craft experience, know what they do and do not like. Wine drinkers will tolerate a generic concept of red or white just as long as it’s not plonk swill.
Look. There are times we can only get some of the world’s best beer in large bottles. Trust us; these are very much worth the effort. Should you and a friend both like Belgian, you should certainly come over and split a bottle of this Brasserie Des Rocs Brune. Mahogany brown with ruby highlights at its edges and a good, bubbly head, this beer is a study in complexity with deep scents of banana, dark cherry, clove, caramel and honey. Spicy, yeasty flavors control the malty palate with dried fruit, cinnamon, fresh dark bread and chocolate. It’s silk in a glass with a memorable finish.
Order up a bottle and ask for a couple of glasses. Sharing is caring, after all.