Imbibe live logo in white
1–2 July 2024
Olympia London

How to Sell Beer to Anyone

At Imbibe Live, Pete Brown and Jessica Mason described ‘how to sell beer to anyone’ during their talk and tasting in the Beer and Cider Hub. Here, Jessica runs through some of the advice she shared on the day

The problem with selling beer isn’t that it’s beer. Sadly, some people still think beer is a man’s drink and through years of marketing women have been told it is not for them. And that’s just wrong. It’s a drink. We don’t segregate into two serving queues dependent upon gender. This is not The Handmaid’s Tale.

A few years ago in a survey conducted by Friends of Glass, 47% of non-beer drinking women said that they thought that a woman drinking from a pint glass was unfeminine and 43% would drink beer from a continental style glass. Now, there are two things to consider here: Firstly, that the glassware issue has already been identified as a barrier and, secondly, how traditional perceptions of femininity have become so ingrained that, rather than seek to challenge those, many people find it easier to bend towards what is acceptably ladylike.

That’s pretty sad, because that’s actually the opposite of equality. We are empowered by being given choices and making a broader range of glassware available to all would solve this problem. Make beer look enticing (to everyone) and you’ll sell more to both genders.

Never assume that as someone approaches the bar that you know better about what they want than they do. And also, never sell something to someone who is already very happy with their choice. By all means make suggestions to those who are undecided, but without being aloof. Your role is to share knowledge, not to assert it.

Never assume women are only interested in pale fizz, pink drinks, wine or cocktails. Don’t baulk if they order a dark beer or a style that is over 4%abv. Never think you’re upselling to a man if he buys a half and you convince him to get a pint – it’s not your job to bring emasculation into the sale.

Take gender out of PoS (misogynistic pumpclip art) and also social media too. 'Lads, lads, lads' banter and 'something for the ladies' commentary is unnecessary and all it does is generate sexism. It might help you shift certain drinks by quite obviously identifying your audience’s gender, but at what cost? Identifying that your bar is a bit sexist? Probably not the best tactic to boost sales.

One of the simplest ways to sell anything is to remind people of the quality of what you’re selling. Never downgrade it. By belittling something you devalue it entirely. By doing the same to its consumers, to offer up any humiliation or associated shame to the product you have for them, you’re doing the same thing.

In a nutshell: 6 tips for selling more beer to all people

  1. Do take gender out of glassware and presentation
  2. Don’t assume the customer’s level of knowledge
  3. Do ask what drinks the customer already likes
  4. Don’t query a person’s drinks choice. Ever
  5. Do simply take gender out of point of sale
  6. Don’t patronise your customers


A new scheme named TEPA (The Equality in Pubs Accreditation) was unveiled at Imbibe Live during the session ‘How to sell beer to anyone’. Publicans who would like to let visitors know that their pub has a zero tolerance policy on abuse in any of its forms can apply to be assessed and potentially gain a window sticker and a plot on a map on TEPA website to let people know that their pub doesn’t support homophobia, sexism or racism in any of its guises from neither its staff or it’s drinkers. Joining TEPA means the publican has a civic duty to act should they recognise abuse in their venue.

The Accreditation has been pioneered to offer all people the freedom to visit the nation’s finest pubs without trepidation and to remind the pub, beer and hospitality industry as a whole that inclusiveness is everyone’s responsibility.


This article was updated from one that was originally published in imbibe live magazine on 9 Jul 2018.