Friday, May 15, 2009

Please, May I have a Beer List and a Water? Is that too much to ask?

Have I sounded cranky of late? Dunno, maybe not, but sometimes it does feel so. Perhaps it's the busyness of the winter turning quickly into spring/summer and all of the activity that goes on around it. Maybe I've never really caught up from the rapid onslaught of San Francisco Beer Week, Philly Beer Week, and the Pittsburgh Marathon over the past few months. The Flyers quick collapse in the playoffs? The Phillies split personality start to the season? Eh, I should relax and HEY maybe make some homebrew?! Okay, back to topic. Events, even small ones, like last night have a way of tweaking me the wrong way. Turns out this is a general pet peeve...wait, check that, I have two pet peeves to kill off today and share with you.

The first one's easy. I---like a lot of, uh, seasoned beer drinkers---will often respond to the server's question of what we'd like to drink with the name of a beer and...a glass of water---please. I usually save the glass of water request for last because it supposedly would be the last thing that the server hears...I'm hoping that the request stands a better chance of being delivered upon. I realize it doesn't add one penny to the bill, but I did ask for it. And, the response to it will ultimately affect the amount of pennies that I put below the subtotal line.

I can't tell you how bad it's become of late. I'm a numbers guy; I'm on the verge of keeping stats, that's how bad. Lately it feels like it's less than half the time that a water shows up the first time I ask for it. There've even been two incidents where I've had to ask three times, and once where even after three requests still never got a glass of water. Maybe I should start asking for a pitcher of water instead. Because, often times, getting the glass refilled can be a yet more difficult request to fulfill...that is, if the glass hasn't already been outright removed.

I think I've made my point...moving on...

Last night, we checked out a new place that's only been open around a month or so in northern Chester County. I'm not ready to name names yet since I don't yet have a fully-formed opinion. But, it does look promising from the beer cooler perspective, albeit a tad pricey on both the food and drink side of the menu, with the potential for beer events on the horizon.

Here's the rub: with a handful of taps and several dozen bottles (many to satisfy beer drinkers of every stripe), there was no printed or in-person at the restaurant. Plus, according to the server, no apparent intention to do so in the immediate future. Furthermore, the comment (to paraphrase slightly) of " the rush of getting open..." was thrown out there as an explanation as well.

Huh? I don't get it. For a beer list that obviously has some thought behind it, how can it get left in the dust of opening day? The website prominently features the lunch menu, dinner menu, and wine menu. Ditto for the printed menus at the restaurant. So, not only are prices not advertised for the few dozen beers that are being served, the customer doesn't even know what they are. You're left with the hope that the server has some beer knowledge that can help you we fortunately did.

But, what if we were not so fortunate? I could imagine the conversation going something like this:

Me: Do you have a list of beers? Server: No, but we've got lots or...No, but we've got just about everything

Me: Well, how about something hoppy? I'm in the mood for a hoppy beer. Server: Hm, let me see (as they look at a handwritten note of beers...I'm imagining they're looking for the word Hop in the Hop Rod Rye or Hops Infusion)

Server: Uh, hm, er... Me: Do you have Sly Fox Route 113? Server: Let's, but we do have Sly Fox O'Reilly's you want that?

Me: No, that's really not what I was looking for...

And, on and on and on...I think we've all been there before right? Or how about a dozen other questions that I might have? I can think of questions that I ask when I travel, like...What local beers do you have? What are some of the more popular beers? No, except for "those beers."

Could you imagine this happening on the wine side of the drinks menu? No, of course not. A restaurant with more than a house red, white, and rose has a list...and, almost always with the glass and by the bottle. There's none of this..."What are you in the mood for?", "Do you like red or white?", "How much are you looking to spend per bottle?". Well sometimes there is, but the point being that the list is there in front of you for your careful perusal and selection.

Why not for beer? Guess that's all I have to say on the topic for today.

What about you? Have any similar frustrations or pet peeves about the presentation and serving of beer?


Mark said...

And how old are you now, my friend? Getting cranky, grumpy, and less tolerant of incompetence seems to be a factor of old age. Be careful or you will turn into a curmudgeon like me.

Jim C said...

I share your frustration regarding clueless servers. Some friends and I frequent an establishment not known for better beers; I asked the server for an ale, any ale at all. Her reply, "An Amstel Light?" Not exactly the "ale" I was thinking of!

Anonymous said...

Good service is hit or miss.

Don't go to the Mann and axe for a Wit ;)

Anonymous said...

Why don't you mention the fact that the Grey Lodge also lacks a beer menu and their staff has no idea what is actually still on tap and what is gone. Went there twice and was told to "check the wall"; that is kind of hard to do when you're facing away from it.

Adam said...

Yeah, I feel like this is one of those topics people just stop listening to me about. Whatever. I just want to buy something. That's right. I am the customer and it is a restaurant. I want to give my money to them in exchange for something, a beer.

You know this Bryan, but, hell you just hit my hot button so I'll preach to the choir.

The closest bar to me (I think) had (maybe still does) the best happy hour deals on great beer and they absolutely suck at being able to...

~ recite what beer they have
~ know what is on special (besides the obvious)
~ give you a printed list
~ maintain a chalk board list (replaced by a big macro sign)
~ remember what you told them
~ find out from the bar tender if they have a beer on tap
~ employ a bartender who cares to know

Look I have to go over to the taps and look at them myself. Then I have to comeback and order something and get that look from the server that says, "uh, ok I think we have that". Then I find out the damn keg is kicked! I'm not making this up. Ghhhhaaaaahh!

So, my wifes Grandfather used to say that it is your duty to tell the owner about these kinds of problems. I guess I should. I'd just have to do it when I'm not steaming mad.

Bryan Kolesar said...

Marck, thanks so much for the wakeup's back to happiness and bliss for me; phew, you curmudgeons almost had me.

Bryan Kolesar said...

Ale? Amstel Light, Exactly? hm, not exactly ;-)

Ah, the Mann? I think I knows what yer gettin' at there!

Anon..I don't disagree with you about the type of service you got at the Grey Lodge (in the sense that it's not acceptable...but not in the sense that I've ever experienced it myself at that particular joint), but I will give them the nod for hanging an opposite-wall taplist downstairs sometime in the last year or so. It was a huge improvement for the issue you mentioned.

Bryan Kolesar said...

Adam...aye, aye, aye. Preach away brutha. I hear ya. Obviously, I know exactly the place of which you speak and I don't get it either. They've got the beer...well, most of the time they do.

But, what do they want to do with it? Are they a craft beer bar? Probably not...but they have the product. Are they a fun place that just so happens to have the product, but not the wherewithal or energy to promote it? Maybe.

Sounds like another place a couple of miles away ;-)

Oh, and to anyone who doesn't believe the recounting of Adam's experience? Believe it; I've been there and lived the same sorry trip.