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How Beer Sellers Decide What's On Tap

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The owners of Swingbellys BBQ, a small barbecue joint in the beach town of Long Beach, N.Y., like to drink beer.

That helps when it comes to choosing the hops, ales, stouts and lagers the 55-seat restaurant prides itself on offering on eight routinely changed taps.

For many small restaurants and bars, deciding on a beer menu is part of making smart business decisions.

"We choose the beers we want," says Dan Monteforte, pit master at Swingbellys.

While price plays a role in selecting many of the beers, Monteforte says, the most important factor is that they complement the strong flavors of ribs, chicken and brisket.

"There are a lot of beers that won't stand up to BBQ. We try to choose bold flavors," Monteforte says. "If you pick something that is weak or light, it will get lost."

For many small restaurants and bars, deciding on a beer menu is part of making smart business decisions.

Restaurants take into account the demographics and demands of their guests, storage space and cost as well as what's on the food menu, according to Annika Stensson, director of media relations for the National Restaurant Association.

'I don't even ask about price, I want the best beer and my customers will pay.'

-- Michael Roper, proprietor of Hopleaf Bar

Riccardo Romero, owner of Arepas Cafe, a Venezuelan restaurant in Astoria, N.Y., offers arepas, a traditional Latin food that looks somewhat like a pita but is made out of corn flour. Arepas are stuffed with a meats, cheeses and other garnishes.

Romero says the so-called street food goes very well with beer and sangria, and among the beer selection, Arepas Cafe makes sure to offer Colombian and Venezuelan beer to cater to the community it serves most.

Beer powerhouses such as SABMiller and InBev's (INB) Anheuser-Busch have to find ways to beat out the competition, typically by offering deals and special marketing to get their labels in coveted draft and bottled-beer spots, experts say. Larger sports bars and chain restaurants tend to respond the best to stocking more mainstream beers for price breaks.
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