• The Cabinet

The Cabinet Designer Barman: Package vs Pump?

Updated: Oct 15, 2020

This is the second in our series of posts written by one of our team who lives a double life between working for a drinks branding and innovation agency during the day and behind the bar at night. With a completely open brief to get whatever they want off their chest here is a unique view on what plays on a designer barman’s mind.


I have been considering this for a while now. The last few years I have been working behind the bar, one of the main aims for brands was to establish themselves as a ‘must stock’ on the beer pumps.

It’s been a hard slog in a very competitive market. With brands often having to fight against some monstrously large budgets as well as getting undercut on the cost of kegs. However, I am pleased to say prior to the first lockdown, we saw smaller brands carving a nice little space.

But now what?

If Covid has taught us anything it’s that the world we knew may never come back and if it does do we really want it to?

The battle for pump position feels a lot less important when customers won’t be standing in-front of your fancy custom made pump handles. Craft breweries will need to weigh up the cost benefits of producing kegs to try a compete with the multinational breweries that can half their production costs. Especially when you consider smaller breweries can’t get away with replacing kegs for free when/if a second lockdown comes.

From a Bar Operators point of view why have multiple different beers on kegs that need to be used once opened when packaged beers will have a much longer shelf life. So what’s my point?

The craft beer revolution is a turning point. Smaller amazing brewers are fighting for their lives right now and so smart decisions need to be made on their end. Are kegs really the right option?

On our end as bar staff we need to champion brands we truly love and cherish. We should pay attention to our packaged lines keeping them interesting and innovative as well as up selling our favourites at the point of service.

Finally, as a consumer (and I consider myself a consumer as well as hospitality professional) we need to vote with our money. The big players in the game will be more than fine. They have the war chest to survive and even flourish during this pandemic...remember just because is says “craft” on the shelf in the supermarket doesn’t mean it’s not owned by Mitsubishi!!!

Therefore, if smaller brewers do decide that kegs aren’t the right option, they then need to think about focusing more attention on the packaged lines. How to make the consumer experience more interesting, more fun, and more intriguing. Thus, helping the bar staff to be able to champion smaller brands and creatively sell more at point of service (similarly for off-trade sales).