First rule in craft beer bars: trust your bartender. And at the risk of hearing loud guffaws and endless mockery when I walk into work, don’t be afraid to trust your servers, either. Most of us know what we’re doing. Most of us also have opinions on how to and how not to behave in bars devoted to delicious craft beers, specifically local ones. The list I’ve compiled is mostly negative, and quite possibly about you, so be forewarned.
Most importantly, other than trusting your service staff, obviously, don’t be a snob. Let’s be honest, no one likes a snob. Snobs in the craft beer community tend to be categorized into two groups: those who know very little about a lot and those who know a lot about very little. Both tend to be the ones who swirl, sniff, and slurp. Every single time. Every single taste. The former may have dabbled in home-brewing. And, of course, by “dabbled in”, I mean they’ve tried it once, most likely a failed interpretation of a Bock. These are the ones who ask me for stout blondes. They’re the ones who learned just enough about beer terminology to not know how to use it correctly. The latter of the category tends to be the self-important type, which we have all too much of in our little community, and these are the ones I feel, most often, the need to address.
The Show Off: the one who only wants barrel-aged brews, or beers served in the “proper” glassware; they’ll probably reference Brettanomyces, or other obscure yeasts/experimental hops by name. This might also, quite likely, be the aforementioned failed, one-time home-brewer, with little to no understanding of craft beer dialect. Humble yourself, it’s okay to admit you don’t know everything. Chances are, we all already know you don’t.
The Brewery Advocate: breweries are always going to have a fanboy or two, but they should have haters, too. Don’t assume your favorite brewery is going to always put out a winner, just like the one you hate isn’t only capable of producing “duds”. I’ve been both pleasantly disappointed and brutally surprised many times, and both to my delight. Don’t be afraid to branch out.
Overly Opinionated Guy: We get it. You went to college, or least tried it out. No need to force your favorite everything down our throats, literally and metaphorically, with your tasters and debates. I’m sure you can tell me why your favorite beer is better than everything else out there, I just don’t care. You like what you like, and I like what I like. Any chefs worth their salt will tell you they don’t cook for themselves; they cook for others. So, don’t be that guy. You do you, I’ll do me.
Mr. Stout: Self-explanatory. Lighten up, it’s just beer.
The One Everyone Wants to Punch in the Face: he samples everything; he asks for recommendations, then chooses to sample the complete opposite. He then proceeds to ask for a domestic bottle after being told they don’t carry domestic bottles. Even if we did, shame on you, please, kindly, leave my establishment. He leaves, and tips far less than the industry standard of twenty percent.
As far as the Do’s in the craft beer community go, I think it’s fairly obvious. Be open-minded. There’s something out there for everyone. Beer has been around for a very, very long time. Are you a wine drinker? We totally got you covered. Are you one of those people who have just never liked beer? I used to only eat hot dogs or macaroni and cheese when I was four. I evolved, so can you. Give it time. You don’t like hops? I didn’t either until I met Cedar Creek’s Dankasaurus. You don’t like stouts? Try any stout served on a nitrogen tap. “I don’t like…” I don’t care. I probably wouldn’t like you very much with that attitude, at first, either. So, open your gullet, try something new, and stop worrying about it. It’s just beer.
Mallory Turner is this week’s brew contributor and server at LUCK in Trinity Groves.