Where Craft Beer is Losing On Restaurant Menus

Data Bites: The Craft Lager Trend That Restaurants Are Missing Out On

2016 saw an increase in craft breweries producing craft lagers. Craft lagers are the latest beer trend and the one with perhaps the widest appeal. The lighter style is a welcome relief from the hop bombs with high alcohol that hit you over the head like Bamm Bamm’s club. And it’s great for craft brewers to be producing styles that your grandfather’s grandfather can enjoy. Craft lagers are also a way for restaurants, both chains and independents, to jump on the craft brew train and not alienate their customers. But, according to Uncorkd menu data, restaurants are missing out on this trend in a really big way. Let’s take a look at the numbers.

Drink by the Numbers

When it comes to American lagers, Uncorkd’s customers that fall into the full-service restaurant segment stock and sell far more lagers than their beer bar counterparts. Take a look at the average menu breakdown across all restaurants that use Uncorkd:

Craft Lager Trend Restaurants

Uncorkd Restaurant Beer Menu Placements

It’s clear that full-service restaurants put a lot of focus on American lagers. It makes sense, the highest selling beers in the world are macro produced lagers. There is a large market for lagers, and with many restaurants focusing on wine sales to pair with food and fuel their beverage sales, it stands to reason that restaurants would play it safe with beer selection and stick to lagers.

But let’s take a look at which beers restaurant customers are interested in.

Craft Lager Trend Restaurants

Restaurant Customer Interest in Beer Styles


It looks like restaurants might be playing it too safe when it comes to the number of menu placements they devote to American lagers. Pale Ales garner the most customer attention, which is hardly surprising. Not many pale ales are produced by big brewers like AB-Inbev though, so maybe restaurant customers across the board are more adventurous drinkers than restaurant operators give them credit for.

Let’s take a look at the break down between “micro” or craft lagers, or craft and “macro” lagers, or mass produced domestic lagers like Bud Light.

Craft Lager Beer Trend Restaurant

Macro vs Micro American Lager Menu Placement Breakdown

WOAH! What gives restaurant bar managers and beverage directors? No love for the little guys?! That’s a pretty remarkable difference. 81.1% of the American lager menu placements are dedicated to macro brewed lagers. Less than a 1/5 of menu placements are craft brewers. This is the perfect area for restaurants capitalize on to stay with trends while not alienating their customer base.

Data Bites Take Away:

  • For restaurants looking to modernize their beer offerings, the craft lager is a great place to start. You can convert macro drinkers into craft drinkers with the softest of sales pitches.
  • You can start building a stronger relationship with local brewers, which will give you access to limited releases, partnership and marketing opportunities, and a wider appeal to younger drinkers who are stingy with their dining dollars.
  • Craft lagers sell at a higher price point, which is great for your server’s check averages
  • This is also a great place for craft brewers who are looking to build on years of growth and fortify their brewing operations against the inevitable bubble bursting.
Kyle Thacker