How To Host a Beer Tasting Event at Your Liquor Store

The latest Great American Beer Festival, held in Denver, Colorado, attracted 40,000 people. 

While you might not want that many people in your liquor store at one time, would you be happy with 40? You could attract that many people (or more) with the right beer tasting event. Craft beer is growing in popularity, and now is your chance to capitalize.

Hosting a beer tasting event doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. As long as you select the right beers, get your displays and layout right, and leverage the technology you have, you can run a successful event and create a memorable experience for your customers.

This article shows you how.

Hosting a Beer Tasting Event: Why Now?

It’s been a strange few years for beer. The pandemic put a stop to beer festivals, and some have failed to recover. But — and it’s a big but — craft beer continues to be popular. And instead of visiting large beer festivals, customers crave a more intimate experience.

What does this mean for your liquor store? An opportunity. You know your audience (if you don’t, check out steps #1 and #2 of The Ultimate Guide to Opening a Liquor Store), and you can capitalize on the craft beer momentum by hosting a beer tasting event.

It’s not only a fun way to gather community members together to socialize, it’s also a way to showcase new inventory, educate customers on new styles, help them discover new flavors, and promote new beers.

Offer beer enthusiasts a place to come together and get closer to your sales goals. It’s a win-win.

Planning Your Event

A quick note: Be sure to get the necessary permits you need to serve beer in your liquor store. Whether you need one depends on your local and statewide rules and regulations.

Hosting a successful beer tasting event requires some research and digging into your customers’ preferences. For happy, engaged guests and increased sales, put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Ask yourself:

  • What flavor profiles do your customers gravitate toward?
  • Are your regulars beer enthusiasts or casual drinkers looking to expand their horizons?
  • What are your top-selling beer brands?

Make sure your event caters to their interests and taste buds.

The start of the show is beer. Where do you source your beer from? Local breweries or big names? Explore various flavors, from hoppy to chocolatey to fruity. Partner with your trusted distributors to source special offerings your customers may not have tried before.

Pro Tip: A liquor-specific point of sale (POS) system is a great tool to use here. Find out which products and styles your customers love by analyzing your inventory and sales data. If you see certain breweries and SKUs flying off the shelves, feature those at your event to continue momentum.

Setting Up Your Liquor Store

Beer might be the star of the show, but your liquor store itself is a huge part of the attraction. The right space, flow, and lighting can make guests feel at ease and open to trying new beers. The trick is getting them to purchase newly-discovered favorites on their way out.

Create an intuitive flow. Set up an area for ID checks and registration as guests arrive. Create tasting stations at bars or tables, and place checkouts near the entrance. Use signage with chalkboards to direct attendees and create flavor profiles. If you can, have employees ready to answer questions about various beers.

Related Read: Choosing an ID Scanner for Liquor Stores: 4 Top Options

Ask your distributors and brewery partners to provide banners or flags, and experiment with lighting to create the right mood.

Pro Tip: Use your POS system to register customers. A liquor POS system should make it easy to scan IDs and capture customer information you can use for future marketing.

Marketing Your Event

You’ve planned your event, and your store is set up. It’s time to let people know your beer tasting event is the place to be! Get creative and use different platforms:

  • Promote the event on social media by sharing eye-catching graphics with the beer list, tagging and collaborating with featured breweries, posting video sneak peeks, and announcing any special giveaways. Get your followers to tag their friends.
  • Send out a series of emails teasing what's coming. Share pro tips for beer tasting etiquette after invitees RSVP to educate and build excitement.
  • Put up posters and signage in high-traffic areas of your store. Position cases of featured beers near the cash register for impulse purchases. Have staff wear branded t-shirts to answer questions and mention the tasting.

All three strategies are inexpensive and help promote your event organically.

Related Read: Alcohol Marketing Strategies: 5 Expert Tips To Help You Sell More

Pro Tip: Use your POS system to identify your regular customers and loyalty program members. You can send special invites and early access passes to make them feel valued. Personalize emails by highlighting new arrivals you think they’ll love based on previous purchases. Ask loyalty members to mention your event to their friends.

Hosting Your Beer Tasting Event

You want friendly faces at the entrance to welcome customers — especially as you need to get the legal bit out of the way and verify IDs. Give wristbands out so staff can tell who cleared age verification.

Guide guests throughout their journey. They’re bound to have questions about flavors and prices. You could provide tasting sheets that describe each beer — its taste, aroma, and alcohol content — and make it fun by asking guests to rank each beer. Interactive games can make beer tasting fun:

  • Test your guests’ beer knowledge with beer trivia questions.
  • Do blind taste tests with different styles of beer.
  • Set up some traditional beer pong games.
  • Sell raffle tickets for the chance to win a mixed case of beers from your event.

Games will liven the atmosphere and create a memorable experience for guests.

Pro Tip: Spot your loyalty program members and ask staff to pay special attention to them.

Post-Event Follow-Up

To know if your beer tasting event is successful, look at your sales reports. Compare sales volumes and inventory levels of featured products before, during, and after the tasting night. See which brews were bestsellers and sold out fastest.

Did any customers purchase impulse items, too? Use this data to refine selections and double down on what worked.

Don’t just rely on data. You want the opinions and reviews of your customers, too! Send out surveys asking for feedback. Did they like the variety you offered? Were staff friendly? Would they come to another event? Customer responses highlight areas for improvement.

Related Read: 6 Liquor Store Ideas for Customer Satisfaction

Pro Tip: Target customers with personalized discount codes and exclusive invites to your next event. Use customer data from your POS software to recommend beers similar to the ones they purchased at or after your event.

Make Your Beer Tasting Event One To Remember

As you can see, hosting your beer tasting event isn’t complicated or expensive. Follow the steps to make it successful:

  • Know your target audience
  • Set up your store
  • Market your event to your ideal customers
  • Host your beer tasting event
  • Follow up and go again!

A liquor POS system is the tool you need to make hosting your beer tasting event easy. Bottle POS is a liquor-specific POS solution. We have all the features you need to run a successful event, such as:

  • Age verification software and hardware
  • A built-in customer loyalty program
  • Robust reporting and analytics
  • Marketing tools

…and more!

If you’re thinking about hosting your beer tasting event with a generic POS system, take a beat. Request a demo of Bottle POS and speak to our liquor experts to see how we can help.