Crafting new flavours to test customers' taste buds
THE more things change, the more they stay the same.
In his 30 years in the hospitality industry, Peter Coultas has seen food and drink trends disappear almost as soon as they arrived on the table, while others have established themselves as menu staples.
But sometimes it is hard to go past an icy cold beer and some hearty comfort food.
He has worked at The PA Hotel for the past decade, which celebrated its 175-year anniversary last year and is the longest known holder of a liquor licence in Queensland.
The Ipswich institution has been owned by Clive and Mary-Anne Johnson for the past three decades and what customers expect from their local pub has drastically shifted in that time.
Mr and Mrs Johnson knew the hotel experience needed to move past just pulling up a stool at the bar and ordering a couple of drinks.
The arrival of pokies in the late 1980s revolutionised hotels across the state and gaming rooms remain a big draw card.
"It has evolved and quality food and beverage is a really key component for a hotel these days," Mr Coultas said.
"You must have a good balance."
The consumption of domestic beer is on the decline, with craft beer picking up more popularity each year.
Mr Coultas said millennials were not drinking as much as past generations and were focused on quality over quantity.
The vodka "Cruiser craze" has come and gone but cocktails are proving as popular as ever, with the Espresso Martini enjoying a comeback.
"They're happy to spend a little bit more for two really good beers rather than have four regular beers," he said.
Staying ahead of food trends can be difficult but as much as people prefer old classics, they are not afraid to go out of their comfort zone.
Burgers appear to be coming towards the end of a five-year hot streak, while giant Tomahawk steaks are in fashion.
Traditional meat dishes and fish and chips paired with a beer will always be top picks at the pub, and prompt and polite service is always expected.
"People are a little more adventurous as well," he said.
"They want to try some thing different that they can't get anywhere else.
"It's a big wheel and you don't know where it's going to stop. We're always looking for the next trend."