We are lucky enough to be living in a time when beer quality and variety are at an all-time high. New breweries big and small are popping up all over the country and the ones that have been around for a while are thriving.
Despite the growth and solidification of craft beer as a culture worldwide, much of the general public has yet to learn the proper etiquette. Now, I know that sentence may sound douchey, but please hear me out!
I am not suggesting that everyone should be able to identify which hops were used in a brew just by tasting it or learn all of the highfalutin lingo used by long-bearded beer snobs wearing Warby Parkers and piano key suspenders. I just want to pass along some tips to brewery visitors that will ensure you get the best service, have the best experience, and don’t unintentionally embarrass yourself.
I served craft beer to the thirsty masses for over 10 years, so trust me when I say that the following five things should never be said to your beertender.
1. What do you have that tastes like Bud Light?Your beertender has heard this question a million times and each time it takes a piece of their soul. They will likely smile and try to lead in you into the direction of one of their lighter offerings, but the short and honest answer to this question is always “nothing.” The brewery or craft beer bar that you just sauntered into doesn’t have anything that tastes like donkey piss, so please avoid any questions like this at all costs.
2. Don’t give me anything with hops in it. I hate the taste of hops.We get it. You don’t like hoppy beers. Unfortunately, though, every beer has hops in it. In fact, if it doesn’t have hops in it, it’s not technically beer. Try reframing your question to let your beertender know that you don’t like too much hops or that you’d like a beer that is “malt forward.”
3. What’s your cheapest beer?This doesn’t just go for beer – this goes for every drink at a restaurant or bar. The moment you ask for the cheapest anything, you’ve essentially said, “I’m not the tipping type so please feel free to ignore me in favor of other customers.” Finding out the best deal on drinks is smart and thrifty, but announcing it to a bartender will surely guarantee a long wait. Ask your friends, other bar patrons, or even visit the bar/restaurant’s website to see what deals are to be had so you don’t get ignored.
4. Whistling/snapping/yelling “Hey Barkeep!”If you’re a decent human with a soul, this doesn’t apply to you. For the rest of you, please remember that an actual human being with feelings is pouring your beer. They are not animals. Though you may not know it now, treating them like a faceless servant is guaranteed to leave you waiting a long time for a refill, or, in very rare cases, an extra special gift in your drink that may or may not induce illness.
5. Which of your beers has the most alcohol?You’ve just painted a target on your back for beertenders, management, and/or bouncers. The staff will be keeping a close eye on you to make sure your turnt ass doesn’t make a scene. Most craft beer bars and breweries have chalk boards or menus that list the ABV (alcohol by volume) of their beers, so there’s no reason to let everyone know you’re a lush. If you don’t want eagle eyes on you all night, avoid this question at all costs.
Sean Moriarty has been drinking craft beer since before he was legally allowed to. He managed and bartended at Steamworks Brewing Co. from 2007-2017 and currently manages their digital marketing.