Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Well Meaning Bar Staff


If like me you prefer your advice to be solicited, you may be slightly put out by bar staff offering guidance.  Things such as "I like that one" when you are surveying the range of beers are, to me at least, a little bit unwelcome.  While I may well turn to a trusted palate, generally what someone else likes, without knowing their predilections, is likely to be just as hit and miss as guessing and turning down their advice politely makes you seem churlish.  Of course helpful advice such as "it is pale and hoppy, dark and stouty" etc. is more useful, but these can be written on a board and that, frankly is better, though hardly foolproof.

A couple of things occurred on Saturday which I'll share with you.  In one pub after enjoying two sparkled pints of the same beer, I was so impressed with it and since neither me nor my companion were intent on moving on, why not order another?  I looked around me, taking in the scene, as my pints were poured, not by the charming young lass who'd patiently offered us tasters, but by a bebearded hipster type.  I looked at my pint. No head.  I looked at the handpump.  The sparkler had been removed.  "What's going on.  Where's the sparkler gone?" I asked.  "I took it off" quoth he, "the brewer doesn't like sparklers."

Now that may or may not be the case and anyway, a brewer's preference is just like mine. A preference. He isn't Moses.  It isn't written in tablets of stone.  Bad form to change a customer's beer in that way mid stream and anyway, Manchester is the North and beer here is sparkled as a default.  Later in a different pub, the reverse happened. Well sort of.  There was no sparkler on my Buxton beer and when I asked for one, the barmaid tossed her head and advised me that "it doesn't need one."  Hmm.

It goes back to the old adage that the customer is always right (even when he is wrong) and anyway, there is a simple way round presumption.  Just ask.

Can I also slip in a big recommendation for Young's Winter Warmer?  I only had a half, but it was delicious.


15 comments:

Cooking Lager said...

Here's some unwelcome advice. Drink in better boozers ;)

Tandleman said...

You've nearly got the hang of this Cookie. Advice useless. Just lacks the well meaning bit.

Curmudgeon said...

Bloody hipsters!

RedNev said...

If the brewer doesn't want the beer he brewed to be served with sparklers, then the brewer should pay for your pint. Otherwise, his opinion is irrelevant.

Dave Unpronounceable said...

if someone asks for a sparkler on a beer I've brewed, I feel like a chef who's been asked for tomato ketchup on the fillet steak they've just cooked...

the customer is within their rights, but it doesn't mean they're not wrong!

Tandleman said...

I think Dave that works exactly the other way round too and as Nev says, unless you want to buy me the pint, you can basically go forth and multiply.

Brewers may know how to brew the beer, but after that, they are just punters with an opinion.

Dave Unpronounceable said...

indeed, like I say the customer is within their rights to request a sparkler, however wrong they may be

but to go back to the pub's 'unwelcome advice', if a pub decides to put on a sparkler against the intentions of the brewer, then they are not presenting the beer at its best. So yes, I suppose the same as your point, but from the opposite perspective!

RedNev said...

Seeing that we're all reversing the point of view, the brewer who produced the beer may be equally "wrong" about how it should be served. We all taste things differently and what works for some will not for others. For example, I loathe the smell and taste of all fish and seafood; faced with a fish dinner prepared by a brilliant chef, am I wrong not to like it? Or are those who would love that meal wrong instead? Frankly, my taste buds couldn't give a toss about the chef's intentions.

The simple fact is that there is no right or wrong here; just personal choice. A customer is not wrong for having a preference that differs from the brewer's opinion.

Tyson said...

There is the argument that a brewer is the last person to listen to about their beer. Like chefs and artists, to a man they all think their product is great, if not the greatest thing ever. But, as we know, most of them are wrong. Any value or judgment is solely at the mercy of the customer. So knowing that, why would I bother what a brewer says regarding sparklers? We.all know they IMPROVE beer anyway....

Stanley Blenkinsop said...

Youngs Winter Warmer is indeed delicious.
About the only original thing they made that hasn't been buggered up since the brewery was sold.

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

Even when he is wrong :-)

Dave Unpronounceable said...

sparklers only improve beer if you don't like hops and think a big head is more important than flavour...

Tyson said...

Here we go, the old cliches. Who said anything about a big head, anyway? The truth is that if your wild assertion was fact, no brewer would touch a sparkler. But since it isn't universal practice and they do, we are back to it being just that brewer's preference. Which we've already established is neither here nor there.

Tandleman said...

Dave: Wot Tyson said.

Dave Unpronounceable said...

indeed, chiches abound, such as 'we all know sparklers improve beer'... no-one KNOWS that, just some people THINK it! ;-)

I suppose the distinction I make is between 'serving policy' and 'individual pint' - a customer can ask for a sparkler to be removed/added for the serve of their pint, regardless of the brewer's opinion, but whether the pub puts one on as a matter of course should be led by the brewer's intention, as they should be presenting his/her beer at its best

as it happens, I don't mind slotted sparklers too much (though I do think they're still somewhat superfluous), but the showerhead jobs need consigning to Brewing Room 101, along with crystal malt and spiced beer!