By Marguerite Washut, BBBC Taproom/Events Coordinator
A few days after my last post on how to make sure you’re drinking the freshest beer possible went live, I was in Seattle with my family to celebrate my nephew’s first birthday. As families do (especially my family), they forced me to read aloud my latest post at the dinner table, mostly to get a kick out of me but partly, as I’d like to think, because they’re proud of their baby sister.
As the waitress approached to take our drink orders, my family once again didn’t let an opportunity to get my goat go to waste and ordered a round of Topcutters. And that’s when it happened; the beer was actually stale.
Both stunned at the irony of the situation and somewhat questioning my own judgment, I quietly turned to my husband for validation and asked him if his Topcutter tasted stale, too. Lo and behold, it did. I then looked around the table and my whole family, especially my sister, was sipping their pints in a polite manner saying, “Wow, now that’s a fresh beer…” Only I knew they were completely bullshitting me.
Now, I’m not one to send anything back to the bar/kitchen. I, too, will politely gulp my drink or meal down thinking it was my own fault for ordering incorrectly. But not this time. Especially given the circumstances, I had to stand my ground.
I awkwardly called over the waitress and told her that my beer tasted stale. She looked at me, totally annoyed like I didn’t know what I was talking about, quickly turned to everyone else and asked them if theirs was stale – to really make sure I wasn’t just complaining to get a different drink. My husband supportively spoke up and said, “Yes, mine tastes bad as well.”
The waitress then begrudgingly took back my pint and said, “Well, I’ll have the bartender check the keg” - still not believing that I knew what I was talking about.
A short time later, a man approached our table with another round of Topcutters, introduced himself as the restaurant owner and goes, “I’m so sorry about that – usually when people send back their beer, we think it’s because they just don’t know what an IPA should taste like but because the whole table complained, I went and checked the keg and it was completely at the bottom. Thanks for flagging that for us.”
My father, half shocked/half impressed by my newfound knowledge and confirmation that the beer he was drinking actually was bad, blurted out, “Well, my daughter would know! She works for Bale Breaker.” The owner turned to me and goes, “No kidding? So, you’re like a real beer snob?!” Prompting my whole family to burst out into hysterical laughter.
OMG let me crawl under the table NOW.
My sister finally took a sip out of her fresh pint and exclaimed, “Wait, that really IS good! I always just assumed I didn’t like IPAs because of the bitter aftertaste. This one has a smooth finish. There really is a difference!”
Man, it felt good to be right. ;)
Fast forward to this past weekend, I was covering for my coworker in the taproom and a woman approached the bar, and once again without being prompted said, “It’s so nice to see more of a female presence behind the bar – it’s way less intimidating than only having guys back there.” My co-bartender, whom also happened to be a woman, and I looked at each other in disbelief and started laughing at the irony. She continued, “You’re just so much more approachable – I don’t feel as insecure about ordering a beer when I come order from you.”
Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to make this into a “Girls rule, boys drool” type of post. On the contrary! Regardless of whom you’re ordering from, when you’re new to a taproom – it is intimidating. So, let this post serve as a friendly reminder to all servers, including myself, to always take the time to get to know your patrons in order to give them the best experience possible. Don’t rush to take their order or be quick to judge but help each patron understand what they’re ordering and why they would or would not like a certain style of beer. That way, everyone leaves happy!
At the end of the day, beer is made with the intention to bring all types of people together. I know it’s easy to get jaded when it becomes second nature to you but try to remind yourself of the time when you were the newbie politely gulping down a beer or even awkwardly sending one back. Everyone is and always should be welcome to this party!
Girl Meets Hops: A monthly column about an amateur's quest to find out what's behind the buzz.
Posted May 28, 2019