I’ve recently been involved in a few discussions about beer menus. It started with Alice (of Beer For A Year fame) and Phil (of Beer Diary notoriety) having an online discussion about the complete ridiculousness of not including beer prices on the menu. It continued with an Auckland SOBA member very nearly editing the O’Carrolls’ error-ridden beer list with a red pen (he left them a note instead). And last Friday I have an internal rant to myself about the mistakes on The Brewery Britomart’s hastily printed menu at their soft opening (I kept it internal due to it’s obvious draft form). SoI think it’s about time ‘A Guide to Writing Beer Menus’.

In General: 
– Don’t be ashamed of your beer list. Please don’t hide it away at the end, next to the soft drinks. This is especially true if you market yourself as a beer destination – if this is a case, put the beer before the wine and cocktails.
– If economically possible, have more than one list so that customers can take it back to their table, particularly if it’s a fairly long list. This way, people can take their time and not block up the bar, um-ing and ah-ing.

The Essentials:
– Beer’s name
– Brewery
– Beer style
– ABV
– Glass type / serving size
– Price

The Nitty-Gritty:
– Double-check all your spelling, if only to prevent ridicule. ‘Batch 18’ is a wonderful Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout; ‘Patch 18’ could be anything from a fix for your computer to a area in Northland that contains illicit weeds.
– Be consistent in your formatting. It’s debated whether Pale Ale or pale ale is correct, but pick one style and stick to it.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Having a beer menu is still a relatively new thing, just like craft beer itself. If you’re not sure, ask a resident beer geek, email a beer blogger or contact your  local brewer. They’re mostly friendly people and would be happy to give you a hand.

Just like I’m sure they’ll now tell me what I’ve forgotten to include.

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