Craft Beer & The Restaurant Hypocrisy: An Airing of Grievances 49


Judging by the title of this blog post, one can correctly assume that The Wench is about to start a, somewhat alcohol induced, rant of the, always expected, very bitchy nature.

A few people in my close personal circle have heard my incessant complaints about this subject for years, but I have held my tongue (and my typing fingers) on this topic for entirely way too long.

Many things in this world piss me off, but nothing frustrates me quite like the hypocrisies with craft beer in the restaurant industry.

You see, my roots in craft beer originated in the restaurant industry. Like many lost souls who find themselves working in restaurants, I graduated college with no clear goals and aspirations. And when in doubt, wait tables… right? Unlike many front of the house employees, I developed a sincere interest for culinary techniques and the artistry behind cooking. But like most restaurant employees, I developed quite a liking of booze. However, my constant pursuit for flavor stimulation in the kitchen carried over into my beverage habits, and I began to appreciate and study the nuances of wine.

It wasn’t until I developed a love and understand of wine, that I began to develop respect for alcohol. But this isn’t a sap story about my love for wine… so let us move on.

My enthusiasm, knowledge and passion for cooking, serving, and wine ultimately landed me a job as a restaurant manager — a job that changed my life completely. The owners of my restaurant put me in charge of all things beverage — which was cool since I was studying for my sommelier certification and I loved coffee and tea. The hard part was the beer. Before then, I never drank beer. Even in college I preferred hard spirits and if I did drink beer, it was shitty-ass corporate beer, brewed with adjunct ingredients, that I purely used as a vehicle for drunkenness and debauchery.

The owners of my restaurant were focused on sustainability and making healthy choices that positively impacted the planet. One such environmentally conscientious decision was to only offer craft beer. No mass-produced yellow fizzy beers for us. Only beers brewed from the highest quality ingredients by true artists of the craft. And it was here that I learned that, not only was craft beer superior to mass-produced beer, it deserved a righteous place on the dinner table, along side all of the other fine beverages — especially, wine.

It took many, many years of denial and protestation before I was finally able to admit that beer was, in fact, the finest beverage of them all. And don’t get me wrong, I live in Napa for a reason. I drink wine almost every day of my life. I love my wino friends, wine bloggers, wine makers… but at the end of the day I am fully confident when I say…

the complexities and nuances in craft beer surpass those in wine.

And this brings us to the main topic of discussion: craft beer & the restaurant hypocrisy.

Now, there are several things about the restaurant industry that piss me off, in regards to craft beer. But my greatest pet peeves are:

______________

Great Restaurants with Sub-Par (or non-existent) Craft Beer Menus

I live in Napa Valley, hypothetically the home to some of the most discerning palates in the world, and yet I am constantly disappointed, if not appalled, by the lack of craft beer on the menus of our most prestigious restaurants. For most, the beer menu is an afterthought — if even a thought at all. They see beer as a blue-collar beverage, barely worthy of gracing their menu. But, they acknowledge that they need to carry it, even though it has the lowest profit margin, and end up selecting sub-par mass-produced non-craft beers.

The hypocrisy?

These restaurants fly in fresh fish, over-night. These restaurants source ingredients from only the best, most coveted, local producers. These restaurants will pay an arm and a leg for their food ingredients, because they want to provide the most fresh, highest quality and amazing tasting ingredients possible.

And it doesn’t stop there.

The wine lists are extraordinary, the liquors are top shelf. And the beer?

The beer lists are uninspired, unoriginal, underwhelming and extremely disappointing.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, turns me off more that going to a prestigious restaurant with an acclaimed executive chef, with one of the most amazing menus and wine lists in the world… and witnessing them serve mass-produced corporate beer.

When I lived in Florida, I worked at a pretty fancy corporate wine concept. The whole place was run like a tight ship. Only the freshest, perfectly plated food made it to the guests. Our wine list was spectacular. We had super high-end spirits. But the beer? Only one beer on the menu was craft, and even that beer was the best seller of the largest craft beer producer. The sad part about the entire company was that the beverage director was one of the ONLY Master Sommeliers in the world. We are talking about a man that has a better palate than 99.9% of the world. I can throw his name around the wine industry and most know of him, if not know him personally.

I cannot complain, though, for working under him. His server training program was of the utmost level. When it came to wine studies, I had everything at my disposal. My company paid for my Certified Specialist of Wine training and certification. It also offered to pay for the sommelier test, which although I never took, is pretty expensive. They wanted us to excel and were prepared to give us all the tools necessary to make it happen.

One day, during a race that our restaurant sponsored and I volunteered to help with, I approached my Master Sommelier and addressed this very issue, my biggest frustration, with him. His, oddly expected, response was that the people who would come to our restaurant and drink beer would not be interested in fine craft beer. In other words, our restaurant was a fine dining establishment and “wine bar” with a sophisticated clientele who appreciated wine, and anyone who would dare so much as drink beer, well they were blue-collared and only liked yellow fizzy mass-produced swill.

To this day, I love that man. And he was a big supporter of me after I left. But, I cannot deny my sincere disappointment.

It is not cool, no matter how much you argue the case, for a Master Sommelier, a man with one of the most amazing and most discerning palates in the world, to neglect and dismiss craft beer.

______________

Untrained, Uneducated Staff

Along with local, sustainable, and artisan, craft beer has become a buzz word and growing trend across the world. And although few people outside of the very small niche market actually know what the term craft beer actually constitutes, many restaurants have attempted to embrace the trend, incorporating craft beers into beverage menus.

So you got the memo that craft beer is “hot” and you went to your distributors and ordered some buzz craft beer brands and put them on your menu. And now you think you are hip and cool and trendy. Heck, you might think that you are innovative because you were the first person in your town to do it.

I see it in Napa, I see it in San Francisco, I have witnessed it in Chicago, L.A., NYC and pretty much every big city in the U.S. A great beer list is virtually useless if you and your staff are uneducated.

Now, I am not insisting that all front of the house restaurant employees develop an extensive understanding of the brewing process and the entire spectrum of ingredients and flavors in beer. It is necessary, however, to understand the basic flavor profile and a few details about the brewery for each of the beers on your menu.

Sales & Marketing 101: If you want to sell a product, you have to know your product.

The hypocrisy?

I have seen several restaurants go to extensive lengths to train employees on food menus and wine lists. Heck, I worked for a restaurant that used to test us on every menu change.  We had written exams that required us to list every single ingredient in every single dish, every single house cocktail as well as rattle off tasting notes for all the wines. But beer? Forget about it. Beer is typically the LAST priority, and using the word priority is a stretch, on most restaurant menus.

Now, I don’t expect bartenders and servers to know more about beer than me — after all, craft beer is my career, greatest passion and my raison d’etre. I do expect, however, for the person serving me to know details about the beer that they are serving. And I don’t mean being able to tell me “yeah, it’s good.” Where is the beer made? What is the style? What are the characteristics of that style? Can you give me the basic flavor profile? And even better, what food on the menu do you recommend pairing with this beer? And even better than that, why do you recommend pairing this beer with that dish?

Sounds easy, right? Well, it is. And witnessing restaurants neglect or refuse to train and educate staff on craft beer really REALLY irks me because 1. it is lazy and 2. it is disrespectful to the craft beer industry.

Would you order a cocktail from a bartender who doesn’t know the difference between a Cosmopolitan and a Manhattan? Me neither….

The greatest barrier to converting people to craft beer is LACK OF EDUCATION. Most consumers are not educated on craft beer, but most beer drinkers have potential to be converted. Education = confidence + empowerment. And a confident and empowered consumers = sales.

If you work in a restaurant that sells craft beer and has an untrained staff, but you do not know where to begin when it comes to education — PLEASE do not hesitate in contacting me. I have several tools at my disposal, as well as have developed (and currently revising) an extensive server training program.

______________

Improper Glassware & Serving Temperature

“Glassware is key nowadays when it comes to beer. It’s not imperative, but would you drink wine out of the bottle? No, you’re going to pour in it a glass. The same treatment and respect should be done for your craft beer. When you do that, you get the opportunity to have full enhancement of the aroma and the flavors in that beer.” — Julia Herz, Brewer’s Association

Many regions and varietals of wine require special glassware designed to enhance the wine experience. This is also true for beer, except the range of beer glasses is way more extensive than wine glasses. In Belgium, virtually every beer produced has its own glass. In wine talk, this would be the equivalent of each and every single winery in France developing its own glass for each of its wines.

I cannot express my pure and utter frustration upon being served a craft beer in an improper glass. The biggest examples of improper glassware presentation = Imperial styles in pint glasses and High-gravity Belgian beers in pints glasses. Pint glasses, in most situations, are not the appropriate or preferred vessel, especially with beers boasting high levels of alcohol and extremely complex flavor profiles.

Carrying all the proper glassware can be very daunting, expensive and time consuming. For the most part, two or three different styles should suffice for most craft beer menus, unless of course you specialize in Belgian styles. The basic glassware types, with recommended beer styles, can be found here at CraftBeer.com.

As with wine, craft beer presentation requires a properly cleaned glass.  Glassware must be completely free of oils, soap residue, and pretty much all foreign materials. Bottom-line: beer must be poured into SPOTLESS glassware. (To learn how to properly clean glassware, check out this guide from the Brewers Association.)

Sure, you can pour the beer behind the counter so that I cannot see whether or not the glass was clean. But the beer will not lie, and I will find out. Beer poured into a properly clean glass forms a proper head and creates residual lacing as the beer is consumed. There are several ways to test for a clean glass. The Brewers Association details them here.

“Temperature is actually something that many beers need to scream loud and clear about. Because if you listen to your beer, it doesn’t want to be served totally cold. Most beers, beyond light American Lager and Pilsners, want to be served warmer at cellar temperatures.” — Julia Herz, Brewer’s Association

The factor in beer presentation that is almost always neglected is beer temperature. Would you serve a Sauvignon Blanc warm or a big Napa Valley Cabernet at white wine temperatures? I don’t think so. As with wine, not all beer is created equal. If you are a restaurant that has chosen to carry special styles that require service at special temperatures, you need to recognize and honor temperature ranges.

Despite what the average beer consumer, brainwashed by admen and mega-corporation ad campaigns, think — most beer should not be served ice cold. Why would people be brainwashed into thinking this? Because bad beer tastes much better ice cold. Your taste receptors are numbed by the cold and you actually can’t get a good impression of the flavors in that beer. RateBeer.com has an excellent and comprehensive guide for proper beer serving temperatures.

Now don’t even get me started on “chilled” glassware. Unless you are serving a mass-produced light lager made with adjunct ingredients, chilled glassware is not only unnecessary, but undesirable. Not only is it an unnecessary step in beer service, it can always adversely impede the beer drinking experience. For more on this topic, visit the section on Glassware Temperature from the Brewers Association.

Not to mention, chilling glassware is the biggest cop-out when it comes to cleaning glassware.

And last but not least, my final grievance of today (and trust me, this is not all of them…)

______________

Improper Pouring and Poor Presentation of Craft Beer

Case Study #1: To date, I’ve had two rather disappointing experiences with beer service at a new, super trendy downtown Napa Valley waterfront establishment owned by a pretty well-known Food Network star chef (how is that for subtly?). The service there is impeccable and the food is top notch. The draft beer, although partially craft, is uninspired and typical of the area. The bottle list seems to rotate a bit more, so they have that going for them

One night I decided to order a Belgian beer in the bottle. First mistake: the female behind the bar poured it into a pint glass, almost always the improper glass for any beer from Belgium. The second mistake she made was to treat it like wine. Instead of pouring a full glass of beer, pouring straight down towards the end, allowing the CO2 to release from the beer and give it a nice foamy head… she opted to tilt the beer, slowly pouring out 1/3 of it, carefully making sure not to agitate it and allow a head to build. She placed the glass and the partially poured beer in front of me.

First of all, if you are only going to partially pour beer, then you better give me a smaller glass. Second of all, WTF. I took the bottle and I proceeded to finish it off with a nice hard pour, creating a desired amount of head.

Case Study #2: I was excited to learn that a recently Michelin-rated (but not starred) restaurant in downtown Napa had Orval, quite possibly my favorite beer in the world. And not only did it have the beer, but it had the proper glassware. Call me naive, call me assuming, but I figured that a place which not only carried ORval, but it’s proper glass, would also know how to make the proper pour.

Sadly, my assumptions were proven wrong.

For those unfamiliar with the wiles of Orval, it is a bottle-conditioned Trappist ale that gets spiked with brettanomyces (a wild yeast strand) at bottling. The bottle is specially designed with a “yeast catcher” in the neck, which prevents yeast from being poured into the glass. Orval requires a very attentive pour, which allows it to develop a large, billowy almost meringue like peak of foam which raises above the glass (but does not flow over). This pour is easily to obtain with practice, and should not intimidate anyone. ‘

Now, I can handle a sub-par pour, but what I will not stand for is the yeast to be poured into the glass, which is exactly what to obviously untrained server did. The experience almost turned me into a beer nazi. I wanted to strip them the right of serving Orval until they learned how to give it the respect it deserves.

If there is one lesson that should be taken away from this experience, it is DO NOT POUR YEAST FROM BOTTLE-CONDITIONED BEERS INTO THE GLASS WITH THE BEER. And if you are curious to know what happens when you do so, specifically with Orval, feel free to watch my video tasting with Orval where I discover first-hand just what yeast does to the flavor…

If there is one things, just one thing, on this entire list of grievances that I will encourage all restaurants to learn above all else — it is how to properly pour beer. Everything else is just gravy on the cake. A great resource is, once again, the Brewers Association.

______________

I wish I could say that the rant ends here, unfortunately this is only the tip of the iceberg. However, have faith in knowing that these grievances were not done in vain and that I have set out on a personal mission to change the current state of craft beer in the restaurant industry. Stay tuned.


About The Beer Wench

Ashley is a self-proclaimed craft beer evangelist & social media maven on a mission to advance the craft beer industry through education, inspiration and advocacy. She is currently the “Director of Awesomeness” at Bison Brewing in Berkeley, CA — where her responsibilities include everything from marketing, sales, PR, social media & events. Ashley is also a freelance consultant and professional speaker on the subjects of social media, beer mixology, food & beverage pairings. She is the founder of DrinkWithTheWench.com & BeerMixology.com as well as a regular contributor to CraftBeer.com.


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49 thoughts on “Craft Beer & The Restaurant Hypocrisy: An Airing of Grievances

  • Rebecca

    This is terrific – I’ve often had these thoughts as well but have never spelled them out in the way you have here.

    True story:

    I’m at a brewery in a flyover state while traveling solo. After a late flight arrival I sit down at the bar to order a beer and some food. They have a few different varieties of IPA and I’m in the mood for a good, citrusy IPA. I ask the bartender for the “citrusy-est” of the IPAs. I get a blank stare. Then I am told that I can get a lemon wedge with the hefeweizen, was that what I meant? This was at a brewery. *sigh*.

  • The Beer Buddha

    Great post! New Orleans restaurants are notorious for doing this. All about the best ingredients and amazing wine lists but don’t offer us great craft beer. Disappointing.

    Cheers!

    The Beer Buddha

  • Beerwencha2

    nicely put Sista Wench. For those of us who daily deal with the tools in charge of beer buying, and whose living depends on selling as much of the said craft beer to said tools, it is nice to hear my own frustrations echoed so comprehensively. I will say that it is getting better in many circles, but for the most part, I walk in, dressed up and ready to sell, samples, tap handles and POS clutched in my hot little hands and get:
    “Yeah? well how many free kegs do I get.” when I say, “How about putting the hottest, proven delicious, local lagers on tap in the very town where said lagers are produced, eh, tool?”
    Not only have the macros ruined good taste, they have spoiled the folks who buy into thinking we ALL have beer to just give away.
    We don’t, and frankly, I wouldn’t want MY beer within a country mile of your place if you ask me for freebies. Any idiot who really understands the industry knows that we have no spares. And the ones we have we SELL in our own Tap Room.
    cheers and keep the faith!
    Love
    A2 Wench (you know, in the town where we have a football coach! *ducks*)

  • Renee

    What a WENCH! (I mean that in the best possible way of course!!)

    I absolutely love these gripes! Its about bloody time someone did something about it!

    “It takes a lot of beer to make good wine” is a saying that gets thrown around the wine industry… one day I really hope it will become “It takes a lot of GOOD beer to make good wine”. As a young winemaker, I do love wine of course! But if I can’t have a good delicious craft beer at the end of the day, it’s all a waste of time if you ask me!

    Go you! Good luck!

  • Darren

    nice rant, couldnt have said it better myself. The only thing that makes me sadder than a great resturant with a dud beer list is a good beer badly served.

  • Kevin Smith

    Out here in my neck of the woods, Bryan Voltaggio (Top Chef runner up) worked with Flying Dog to develop a beer to serve with his summer menu. I found this encouraging. A block up the street from him is a restaurant that when I moved to town, their best beer was Stella. Now they have a grouping of local craft beers from around Maryland and Pennsylvania, and 15 minutes away is a craft beer bar with constantly rotating taps. Whenever the taps change, they label the tap with what the appropriate glassware is for serving the beer.

    I’m not saying that these issues that you mention don’t exist. They do – and in places they shouldn’t (brewpubs should know and do better than many of the other restaurants, and they tend not to) – but I see things like this as encouraging. It’s a change that is going to happen slowly, painfully slowly, but I do think it’s a change that is going to happen.

  • George

    I agree. Of all, my biggest pet peeve is going to a restaurant and their best selection is Blue Moon or the Sam Adams Light Lager. I don’t know how many times I hype myself up to trying a new restaurant, get excited to also order a craft beer, see the menu, and order a water. If I go to dinner and everyone notices I’m not drinking, there’s a flaw somewhere that needs to be fixed.

    As for the glassware, it really depends on the clientele. I prefer the correct glassware and temps, but there are the new to craft beer drinkers that prefer the frozen pint glasses or would rather not drink out of the tulip glass. Not very often do servers interact with walking craft beer encyclopedias, but they do get the new drinking hillbillies that order a beer, and no matter what, pound it with no questions. So why should the servers put more care if a majority of their customers don’t care? Exactly why I have issues as well.

    There are some bars here in Columbus that have knowledgeable bartenders with dumb customers who don’t appreciate beer. Hate seeing when a bartender tries, and the customer blows them off and says beer is beer.

    But nonetheless, great read. I found the rant very amusing and very true.

    To A2 Beer Wench, We have a coach.

    Go Bucks!

    B4NC

  • Wenchie Post author

    @George: I do agree that the customers do effect the system as well. After all, if they do not demand craft beer or care about proper glassware and service, then why should the restaurant — HYPOTHETICALLY. But, I happen to live by the zero tolerance model. If you do not give people a macro choice, they cannot make a macro choice. And if this means that they will be drinking water instead of you, well then so be it. I am an evangelist, what can I say?

  • Wenchie Post author

    @Kevin — Great points! There are some amazing gems in San Francisco … and a few in the North Bay area … that have amazing craft beer menus, Certified Cicerones, proper glassware and serve at proper temperatures. I’m not discounting their existence, just preaching my frustration with the places that SHOULD serve craft beer, based on their business model and value system, yet choose not to. It’s bullshit :)

  • Wenchie Post author

    @Renee — thanks girl! One of my greatest pet peeves is watching wine “geeks”, wine writers, and wine industry folk drinking shitty mass-produced beer. They obviously have a palate, or so they say. Would you drink shitty wine? No. So why sacrifice your palate for shitty beer? It blows my mind…

    But, that is why I live in Napa. To change the ways of those silly folks.

  • Wenchie Post author

    @Sista Wench — As a recent member of the craft beer biz, who also deals with sales in a local market, I completely understand your frustration. This is another topic I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to address. However, I fear that I might ruffle some feathers in the craft beer industry. But then, maybe people need to know what really goes on behind the scenes in the beer biz.

    Sad fact is that the macros are not the only ones giving accounts “free” shit and incentives. We have some VERY large craft breweries in my market that offer deals for buying multiple kegs. The distributors eat it up and then shove those beers down everyone’s throats. I can tell right away when someone is running a promo — because that particular beer becomes way over-saturated in the market and almost every tom bill and harry has it on tap.

    We can’t afford to match those prices, and fail to compete as a result. AND don’t even get me started on how much more expensive our beer is to make — with 100% ingredents — and yet we can’t sell it at the profit margin we need because we have to be competitive in the market. My organic beer rant is next on the docket :)

  • Wenchie Post author

    @Jeremy — Don’t even get me started about your fancy little mixology bars. THOSE places should ONLY serve craft beer.

  • Wenchie Post author

    @Rebecca — Ten bucks says I can name the brewpub :)

    Le sigh. The worst of the worst is the brewpubs that commit these hypocrisies. One would expect them to be the prime example, but unfortunately they are not. Personally, if I ran a brewpub, all of my employees would be extremely passionate and knowledgeable about craft beer — especially our craft beer. But, most places aren’t willing to invest the time and energy in training. Which is sad. BUT, this will change. I’m trying to spearhead the movement!

    Cheers,

    Ashley

  • John foster

    can we stop calling it the “craft beer industry” and instead call it “craft beer makers” or “craft brewing”? we don’t call it the “wine industry” so why should we do the same with beer.

    industry invokes an image of factories belching waste heat, chemicals and smoke.

  • Rob

    Preach On! Holy shit, I just missed a meeting with my boss because I was caught up in the moment. I know these problems exist and have seen most at some point, but I’ll admit that I mostly drink at home… alone. I’d love to go out with you sometime though. That would be awesome!

  • Rob

    I debated to leave that part in b/c it did sound like a date request. But alas, I’m married. LOL. See you next time in South Florida.

  • Rob

    Oh, and I went to a re-launch of the Hatuey beer brand by Bacardi in South Beach tonight. I thought of you… because the Hatuey Girls insisted on serving the beer in chilled glasses. I wasn’t strong enough to say something because there was an army of armed Black Water private security there to protect Jon Secada and the Real Housewives of Miami ( I kid you not)!

  • murph

    Usually when I read articles that list a number of arguments
    i.e. “6 Reasons You Should (blah, blah, blah)” or “The Ten Best (whatever)”, the author has to stretch to come up with valid reasons.

    But your article kept coming with valid point after valid point, all well supported.

    Well done, cheers!

  • Russ

    My biggest pet peeve, which falls under the “uneducated staff” category, is when servers automatically describe every dark beer as “like Guinness.” I remember taking a non-beer-geek friend to a brewpub with a delicious Schwarzbier. After explaining to my friend how it looks dark like a stout but has a very different flavor profile, the waitress stopped by and immediately announced that she recommended the Schwarzbier because “it’s just like Guinness.” I’m pretty sure that made the Baby Jesus cry.

  • beerguy101

    I have to agree with your ‘airing of grievances’
    The 2 you have mentioned so far are my biggest ‘frustrations’ with restaurants and beer. I have a couple of others as well.
    Have you seen the website sellingcraftbeer.com ?
    It should be fairly obvious who is behind this site, and I have a nice little supply of card for the website that I might want to use at a few places.

  • Wenchie Post author

    Russ: I feel your pain. Not knowing the difference between a stout and a dark lager is common, for the uneducated consumer, which is why it is imperative for the servers to understand their products. *tear* It would be like someone saying that a Sauvignon Blanc is just like a Chardonnay — both are white wines, right?

  • Wenchie Post author

    Thanks Murph. I think the difference between my rant and other lists is passion. Craft beer is my life :)

  • Camille

    What a great post. Thank you. I recently shocked some friends here in Paris, France (where beer is mostly an afterthought, sadly, although at least most of the beers are served in the right glasses) when I declared that if I had to choose between beer and wine for the rest of my life, I would probably choose beer. But only if it’s good beer. :)

  • King Krak, Oenomancer

    Love this article!

    And thanks for some insight on that great mystery to me; a good/great wine list accompanied by a suckfull, embarrassing beer list. Maybe it’s time for me to start harassing places (um, I mean, Take them to Task) that I encounter doing this. Show me the Curieux! Or at least, Damnation.

    And in a similar vein, have you noticed the industrial swill soy sauce served at top Japanese restaurants? Wtf!?! For a while I was bringing my own (to the top place in Sonoma cty), but now I tend to just skip the soy sauce. In slight defense, US consumers use soy sauce like a dip (as in, seeing how much they can get to soak into their food), rather than understanding the Less is More concept….making it uneconomical to use the serious soy sauces that run for $30/750ml.

  • Chris

    Great article. At most “fine” restaurants I don’t even bother looking for the beer selections to avoid the inevitable disappointment. Can a great restaurant apiring to have a great Beer selection do so without a large (10 or more) number of draft beer choices? My feeling is that draft beer (esp micro brews) is significantly better than beer from a bottle.

  • Brian

    Read and wholeheartedly agree with every word written. As you said it is just the tip of the iceberg, and the first step to overcome the problems you listed is for people to see them as a problem. Holy hell do I hate a dirty glass. No respect for glassware (chips, dings, wrong glass, dirty glass) is a large and in charge no no!

    B

  • Joe

    Good read. Thanks for sharing. My recommendation would be to move out of Napa, however. Portland, OR suffers from none of the problems laid out here. They don’t call it beervana for nothing!

  • Erik Boles

    Probably the best blog post I have seen you write in a damn long time. well done, clearly thought out and explained. It was critical that you pointed out the REASONS it is the way it is, and you did that quite well.

  • Andy Newbom

    SO right on the mark!! it is exactly the same with Craft coffee but even WORSE! But dang if you can’t offer a decent, small craft beer list take the shit off your menu. Don’t give customers what you want give em what you do best.

  • Chris

    Do you still see high end restaurants serving only Macro? Back in the day, sure but I’ve found the better restaurants I’ve visited have been pretty on the ball the past 3yrs or so.

    Also, I wouldn’t order a mixed drink from a bartender who didn’t know what a Manhattan was because they would actually have to make it, as opposed to just pouring or opening the beer/wine of my choosing.

    Yeah, shaker pints for Belgian beers can be frustrating, same for bad pours. As craft beer continues to grow more and more servers will learn proper service.

    The issue I see most frequently in bars is dirty glasses and dirty beer lines. Beer that’s too cold, or served by someone who doesn’t know much about it won’t deter an educated consumer from enjoying their beer. Infected lines however, will totally ruin anything it touches. It’s even worse when the bartender/server then tells you it’s “supposed” to taste that way.

  • Jason Phelps

    Great points, and at the end of the day we have to remember that everyone can pick something about the same restaurant (or industry) depending on their personal orientation and pick it apart. Restaurants are under a lot of pressure from foodies, beer lovers, wine lovers, cocktail nerds, locavores, vegans, etc to be all things to all people. They won’t be, and I doubt they can.

    No matter what we think businesses have to pick the things that they are good at and focus on those to build a good business. If they focus on service then they might and uninspired list of wines and beers and the food might not vary much with the seasons. If they focus on beer or wine they may not serve clientele who don’t order either very well. A Catch 22 of the highest order.

    I love both beer and wine and have had a sinking feeling when looking at lists of each in many establishments. I could rant about it, but for some reason it doesn’t bother me enough. I could be accused of being soft and letting people of the hook, or I could be looking at the overall experience for my impression of an establishment and its mission.

    Jason

    Jason

  • Tom Caroscio

    Thanks for an insightful look at the restaurant industry. I went to a very nice restaurant tonight with a very large wine list. I asked the waistress for a beer list and she told me they did not have one but had a large selection of bottled beer and if I had one I wanted she could check to see if they had it. Ah… if I ask for 5 beers and you don’t have them it’s 20 minutes later and I have nothing but frustration.

  • Beer_abbey

    Amen Wenchie! Well said and I’m totally on board and behind your logic! For the past 3 years I’ve been eagerly trying to influence the buyers i work with to adopt this Sam perspective! It takes a village, but we will succeed.

  • Gareth

    ‘The complexities and nuances in craft beer surpass those in wine.’

    Well of course they do, it’s completely stating the obvious! WIne can only be made from fermenting grape juice, beer you can do what you like, it’s hardly surprising you can get more complexity from an unlimited amount of resources.

  • mike Finley

    “If you work in a restaurant that sells craft beer and has an untrained staff, but you do not know where to begin when it comes to education — PLEASE do not hesitate in contacting me.”

    Just read your article on restaurant hypocrisy. I own a beer garden in Mountain View and we are in great need of training. BTW, we are changing our name to Kuhler Beer Garden.

    Thanks,
    Mike