Have you ever been in the beer tent line at a non-beer-related event? Same. When you got to the front, did you want to know what beer was available for purchase? Same. Were you kerfuffled when the person taking money/pouring beer wasn’t educated on what they were selling? Same, but I don’t blame them. This past weekend, when I volunteered to pour beer at an event, I was not going to be that person (naturally 💁♀️). And I sought out to prevent those working with me from being those people, too.
[Aside: A brewer from one of the local breweries stood by as a resource for questions like “What’s a Brut IPA?” and “How are the Pilsner and the Kölsch different?” I was grateful he was there to change kegs in the beer trailer as I took money and poured beer. Eventually he started to steal away when satisfied with my knowledge (e.g., Fellow Volunteer, taking someone’s order: “Emma, we don’t have a lager, do we?” Me, mid-swipe of a credit card: “Yes we do! A Pilsner is a lager.” Minds were blown).]
To be frank, it took me a few tries to pour a beer that wasn’t mostly foam, but I soon learned to create a pocket of non-foam in the cup and keep pouring. After that, making change for big bills was my only bugaboo (why can’t you count, brain?). Thankfully my peers helped me with math, as I helped them with beer questions. We killed it! Besides executing a perfect draft beer pour, I had a few other key takeaways from my experience:
IPA Dads Surround Us
Probably 70% of customers came to the bar asking for an IPA. Not a hazy, not a juicebomb—a straight-shooter IPA.
Me: “Okay, we have a regular IPA and a Brut IPA.”
Most Customers: “Just the IPA.”
Done and done.
Say It Louder for the Dude with the Picky Wife
While most people wanted standard IPAs, this guy absolutely needed a hazy beer.
Him: “Do you have a hazy?”
Me: “Nothing hazy today, but maybe try the Brut IPA?”
Him: “No, my wife needs something hazy.”
His Friend: “I’ll try the Brut IPA.” Takes a sip. “Hey, dude, your wife might actually like this.”
Him: Points to his beer, addresses me. “Do you have anything that looks like this, but not as clear?”
Me: “Yeah…” Pause for dramatic effect. “No.”
My Favorite Kind of Customer
Then there’s my favorite kind of customer, who asks for my recommendation and takes it.
Him: “Do you have IPAs?”
Me: “We have a regular IPA and a Brut IPA.”
Him: “What’s a Brut IPA?”
Me: “It’s an IPA made to drink kinda like a champagne—drier, with an emphasis hop aroma and flavor.”
Him: “Which one do you suggest?”
Me: “If you’re into trying new things, try the Brut.”
Him: “Okay I’ll take one.”
Easy as that.
Knowing When to Put Away the Knowledge
Cheery Woman: “Do you have any light beers?”
Me: “Yes! We have a Pilsner and a Kölsch.”
Woman: “What’s a Kölsch?”
Me: “It’s a light, German style of beer that’s technically an ale but fermented at lager temperatures which creates a crisp, clean, easy-drinking beer.”
Woman: “Is it cold?”
Woman: “I’ll take one.”
I mean, as long as it’s cold…
Ah, the things you overhear when working a bar, am I right? I volunteered at this event in order to gain experience with temporary draft systems (I poured from a beer trailer and a jockey box), but I learned so much about the everyday consumer, too:
1) People mostly appreciate when you can talk about beer.
2) IPA daddies still rule the world.
Is it time to destroy the IPAtriarchy?