A year on from the inaugural Imbibe Live Tapsters competition, the winning team from the Pivovar Group has reported an upturn in cider sales as a result of the training they received.
The team undertook a half day’s training with beer sommelier Annabel Smith and Gabe Cook, aka The Ciderologist. Sam Wheatley of Pavement Vaults in York said learning more about the different styles of cider available had been instrumental to the group growing its cider repertoire and increasing cider sales by as much as 25% in certain venues.
‘We’re beer led, so each of our managers knows a lot about beer, but we learnt a lot about cider,’ he told Imbibe. ‘We’ve always had a keg of cider in each bar, and obviously you have to have some commercial stuff, but with the cask cider we’ve really been able to push different styles, such as farmhouse, traditional and Spanish.
‘The majority of trends are led by people who work behind the bar and in the industry, and when people come in we’ve been able to recommend ciders based on their tastes – understanding the different flavour profiles has really helped.’
The group has introduced a range of new ciders, including Spanish cider El Gaitero, Hallets and Lilley’s Cider. Wheatley said that Pivovar’s sales manager Ben Tysoe, who was part of the winning team, has kept in touch with Cook, who’s helping the group to source ‘some really funky new ciders’.
‘We’ve seen a particular interest in the Spanish and traditional ciders,’ Wheatley explained. ‘With the rise of lambic and gueuze beers, and even agricole rhums, which also have that more astringent, acetic flavour, people don’t want overly simplistic flavours anymore, especially in the bigger cities like Manchester, Leeds and London.’
Following the competition, the team put together a group with other managers from across the company to share their cider learnings and keep on top of market changes.
‘Obviously what works in one city might not work in another, but if you know what’s sold well elsewhere, you can get a good idea of what’ll sell in your venue,’ Wheatley said.
Tapsters returns to the centre stage at Imbibe Live in July, following its successful debut in 2017. The victors will win an all-expenses paid trip to Cork, Ireland, for a behind-the-scenes brewery tour and beer-pairing dinner at the legendary Franciscan Well brewpub, as well as £500 spending money.
Enter Tapsters 2018.