Budweiser basically said beer snobs suck with their Super Bowl commercial. Are you someone looking to better understand craft beer? How to order one and how to taste it? I think that accounts for about 90% of beer drinkers. We’re all trying to better understand beer. CityLab put together a great guide to ordering craft beer at a bar. Here’s the take aways:
At a true craft beer bar, every staff member should be trained to guide you through the menu, says Engert. Even if the bartender or server doesn’t know every single brew, he or she should be able to determine, based on the style and ingredients, whether a beer is right for you. Keep in mind, “you’re going to a professional,” says Engert.
The handy image above should be studied by all beer drinkers. How would you describe your favorite craft beer with these tasting notes? While you ponder that, let’s move on with CityLab’s ordering suggestions
“The best visits to a bar include splashes of beer,” says Engert. All craft beer bars stock small glasses for tasting, so you can and should sample a few different brews before you order. “You should never, ever, feel bad about asking, ‘Can I just try a little splash of that?'” Engert says. So don’t be shy, but do be aware of the situation—if it’s three deep at the bar, don’t expect to try every beer on the menu.
Every tap house I go to is great at offering samples. A good bartender will notice that you aren’t entirely sure what you want and will just offer it. I usually walk into The Copper Hog and say, “What do I want?” They always find me something delicious.
Not all beers are meant to be served ice-cold in a 16-ounce shaker glass. As a general rule: lighter beers will be served colder, in straight-sided glasses, while heavier beers will be served warmer, in curved glasses (like tulips and snifters). But keep in mind price can also be a factor: Even if a particular IPA doesn’t need a snifter to release its flavor, it might be served by the 10-ounce glass because it would cost $20 by the pint. If it’s a high-ABV brew, you won’t need that much of it anyway.
Most of the time, if you order an unusual beer at a craft beer bar and wind up regretting your choice, you can’t send that beer back and expect not to have to pay for it (especially if you’ve already followed Steps 1, 2, and 3). But there are a few cases where you should definitely consider complaining, says Engert:
- If your glass is hot to the touch (which means it probably just came out of the dishwasher).
- If your beer tastes sour and it wasn’t described as a sour beer (which might mean it’s “infected”).
- If your beer is flat, without a generous layer of foam on top (which means the glass might not have been rinsed completely and soap residue has prevented foam from forming).
In any of these situations, you can and should send the beer back.
Drinking beer should be fun! Whatever you do, don’t let people who take beer way too seriously ruin your good time.