Don’t Be a Jerk
This is a reminder as much to myself as to any other bartender or server at a craft beer establishment. When someone comes in and asks for a light American lager (I’m trying to remember to be nice.) don’t get snotty or be a jerk. Just say, “We don’t carry that, but I have a couple of beers similar to that on tap that you might want to try.” Usually, if you do that you can get them to taste a couple of things and they may like one of them and have a pint. You might get a new regular customer. However, if you follow your first instinct and dismiss their request with a sneer you will definitely not get a new customer and you will probably get someone bad mouthing you to their friends.
Now, to customers. Don’t walk into a place that calls itself a craft beer bar and say, “Give me a Your Favorite Non-Craft beer” and then act offended when you are told they don’t have Your Favorite Non-Craft Beer. The correct response to finding out there is no Your Favorite Non-Craft Beer isn’t then to say, “Just give me a beer.” First, if the bartender or server is in a bad mood you will probably get something decidedly unlike what you asked for. You may get some ruby colored dank double IPA that tastes like a big wet bag of freshly cut grass. Second (assuming the server was nice about informing you), you are just being jerk because you are embarrassed. That is a bad look. If you are told, “We don’t have that” ask for samples of something similar (if not immediately offered). Easier still, just say, “That’s my usual beer. Can I have something similar to that?”
While I agree sometimes we craft beer geeks can be a little insufferable, I also think non-craft beer drinkers need to come in with an open mind and a willingness to try something different.
Flights Are Your Friend
Along the same lines, if you order a flight ask for recommendations and just try things you think may interest you. Flights allows you to try different beers for a more then reasonable price. They are a pain free way of walking on the wild side. Don’t do pretastes of what you want in your flight. Just pick. It should be fun and an adventure. Take a chance. If you don’t like one of your beers, you’ve probably wasted $1 and 30 seconds of your time. There is no right answer to your tastes. Your bartender is not going to judge you if you don’t like something. Now, if you get a flight and hate all the beer on it, then maybe you will judged, but not usually.
My least favorite question from new customers is, “What is your most popular beer?” For us it is hard to say because we rotate our taps. Our most popular beer may have just kicked 20 minutes ago and we have something new up right now. I get that question for two reasons I believe. The first is people think popular means good. We really do believe in the wisdom of crowds a little too much. The second is people have been taught that there is a right answer to every question including subjective questions like taste. It is better just to tell your server what you like and get recommendations.
I’ve learned that choice scares people. Even just the choice of what beer to drink freezes customers. They come into Craft the first time and see all 36 taps and can’t make a decision. A little advice: Unless you are already blind drunk when you get there, we will serve you more than one beer. Pick something you think you might like for your first pint then get something different for your second. Also, ask your server for recommendations if you really are stuck. Trust me, they’ll sale you beer, that’s why they are there.
Sincerely, The Beer Counselor