A beginners guide to running a pub cellar

Running a pub cellarThe ability to manage your cellar effectively is a key element of running a successful pub.

There are five key objectives to fulfil:

1. Keeping drink wastage to a bare minimum.

2. Preserving your drinks range in its prime condition at all times.

3. Maintaining appropriate stock levels.

4. Organising products so that they are easy to find and access.

5. Ensuring safety and cleanliness.


…Your cellar could be a dark, damp and dingy base for hastily stacked beer kegs where stock checks are part guesswork and beer quality is left to chance.

Avoid such perils by following our 6 beginners tips for running a pub cellar…

Get cellar trained

If you run a pub tied to a brewery or pub company, they will offer recommended cellar training courses. These courses will teach you all the practicalities of running a pub cellar.

Alternatively, if you’re running a freehouse pub, there are a number of different companies which offer cellar training courses. They include Cask Marque and BIIAB.

We also recommend signing up to Cask Marque, an organisation committed to promoting excellence in the service of cask ale. For a joining fee they will offer ongoing training and regular inspections. Upon passing one of their inspections, you will receive Cask Marque accreditation.

Some serious ale aficionados look out for the cask ale mark when considering which drinking establishment to enter.

Find out more about pub trade associations: who’s who and what they do.

Master cellar stock management

The art of effective stock management is in having enough stock to meet the demands of your customers but not so much that you have products likely to go out of date. You also need to balance your cash-flow.

This can be a tricky balancing act but keeping good ordering records will help. The ability to look at your history of drinks orders and wastage data will be useful for predicting future demand.

Cask beer will likely have the shortest shelf life of the products you keep. It’s usually about three days after opening before the quality deteriorates. Your suppliers will tell you about the specific needs of their beer kegs.

In general, ensure that your products are well organised and rotated in date order.

Carry out daily and weekly cleaning routines

Print out a daily and weekly cleaning schedule for your pub cellar and pin it up on the wall. Then stick to it. You should include the following…

  • Cellar floors: Mop them daily. Remember drink is classed the same as food when it comes to food safety legislation.
  • Cellar equipment: Make sure all your cellar equipment (shelving units, storage systems etc) are cleaned weekly.
  • Cellar drainage: Your cellar drainage equipment (sump pumps, for example) should be checked every few days for blockages. Keep drains and channels clean and clear on a weekly basis.
  • Cellar walls and ceilings: The most important thing to look for is mould and damp. They will need special treatment, for which there are many products on the market. Also, remove flaking paint, by whitewashing and repainting if needed.
  • Line cleaning: The lines which connect your beer barrels to the hand pumps on the bar will need cleaning every week. This will ensure it’s free of yeast deposits which could adversely affect beer quality and lead to needless wastage. It will also make the bartender look a fool as they struggle in the fight against froth in front of eyebrow-raising customers.

Keep the cellar tidy

Ensure that items like beer taps, pegs, keystones and hop filters are kept in a specific area. This may be on a single shelf or in a small box. There’s nothing more frustrating than pushing around heavy barrels in the search for these items.

Everything must have its place. So ensure you have labels for each product. This means that any member of staff can see where things should be kept.

Ventilate the cellar

There are two major reasons why ventilation is important for your pub cellar. Firstly, it prevents mould from growing by keeping the air fresh and well circulated.

Secondly, it reduces the danger of harmful levels of CO2 building up if there is a leak in your gas canister system.

Get the temperature right

The cellar temperature must be maintained between 11.5°C and 13.5°C (53°F and 56°F) to keep your drinks in their ideal state. If the temperature is outside of this range your drinks may be spoiled. And customers will notice!

Thermostatically controlled cellar cooling units are handy. Even so, it’s worth having a separate thermometer positioned at beer cask height.

Keep in mind, your draught beer can be connected to a separate cooling system so that as soon as a barrel is connected to the system, it cools. Usually that’s between 5°C and  8°C.


Anything else you’d like to know? Any tips you’d like to add? Tell us in the comments below.