Raise a glass with: Phil Lowry, ex-hospitality worker, beer expert and sales manager for BarthHaas X

25 February 2022
Raise a glass with: Phil Lowry, ex-hospitality worker, beer expert and sales manager for BarthHaas X

Phil Lowry, ex-hospitality worker, beer expert and sales manager for BarthHaas X, discusses how to go about talking to your local brewer

It's incredible looking around the hospitality space we work in these days. It's been tough, really bloody tough. I don't envy any one of you.

I am sure you've all had the internal dialogue, of going to work in an office or somewhere equally dull for the safety, income, blah, blah, blah. I clearly remember the days of pulling the perfect pint, cleaning up after people, and the conversation going, "so what do you as a day job?". My father suggested that I stop messing about with beer and get a proper job. You can see how much I heeded that advice.

In comparison with the early 2000s, there are so many classy joints now with modern, interesting beer on the menu; there's craft, real ale, modern imports and more. It's got the attention of the big players in the industry, and small brewers have been able to grow to greater heights than ever before.

There's something like 3,000 brewers in the UK. I have five brewers within 20 minutes of me. I am sure you're hearing from them all, but do you really know them? They've all got a place in the market, but how do you go about talking to a brewer and creating a partnership?

Find a brewer that shares your values. Have a plan as we're all busy people. Brewers aren't making beer for the fun of it.

Try to understand how the beer should be served so the best qualities are allowed to shine. Clean your lines. Use the right glassware. You may have to buy glassware. And don't fall for the free-glassware-to-over-occupy-space-on your-bar trick.

Don't compare your margins in beer to that of wine and spirits. There's reverence to be applied to great beer as much there is your high-end Burgundy, Bordeaux or limited release Napa Cab.

You can make friends with your local brewer by not talking about price. You're in the same boat, entertaining and informing as much as offering something delicious. Focus on those aspects.

Do a bit of research: there are sources from platforms like Untappd or Ratebeer, and there is lots of information on YouTube.

Have a think about how you can make the relationship be a two-way thing, not just solely a sale. I've seen many collaborations in Spain with Michelin-starred establishments, making gastronomic-accented beers, involving the chef in the brewing. You don't have to be Ferran to do that.

If you're going to the brewery, be safe with protective footwear and respectful attire – no shorts and flip-flops. Things are hot and heavy in a brewery.

And, a good rule in life – don't be a dick. Please, please don't paint the casks or kegs. And make sure they get back to their correct owner. Do that, and you'll be on a long and profitable road ahead.

Continue reading

You need to create an account to read this article. It's free and only requires a few basic details.

Already subscribed?

The Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email

Start the working day with The Caterer’s free breakfast briefing email

Sign Up and manage your preferences below

Check mark icon
Thank you

You have successfully signed up for the Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email and will hear from us soon!

Jacobs Media is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.


Ad Blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an adblocker and – although we support freedom of choice – we would like to ask you to enable ads on our site. They are an important revenue source which supports free access of our website's content, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

trade tracker pixel tracking