Beer Tasters and Bar Staff Recommendations

I witter on about this on twitter and now I’ll put my thoughts into more than 140 characters.

My thoughts on the former of the title’s headings may read as the equivalent of Mr. Pink’s ranting about tipping in Reservoir Dogs

I’ll take the latter of the title heading first.

Staff Recommendations

I’m not looking for myself to be advised on what beers to buy, I know what I like and when that isn’t available I’ll go with something different.

The scenario of me entering and walking to a bar to handing over my money and taking a taste is quite simple…

Observe choice of drinks…

Anything new by a brewer I that know and trust?

Anything new that I’ve never had?

Hopefully be able to have a choice of either of the two above options…

A more competent person with a lot of time could do an exceedingly funny/tedious flow chart to go over beer choices, if fact someone probably has.  But me and my parting of my cash for the taste of a beer is not an overly complex thing.

But I was sat at a bar last week, in a pub that has a good 5+ pumps of cask ale, and on this occasion had two stouts on.

Yes two dark drinks – I shit you not, I didn’t know quite what to do with myself still, at least I wasn’t warned it was a ‘dark drink’ this time.

And I was more that averaged out by all the other pubs of visited that had a few casks on and nothing was dark at all.

Anyway, an older couple walked in and order 1 and a half pints of Guinness (with blackcurrant in the half).

All the time, while the waited for ‘the pour’ and ‘the settle’ and then the ‘top up’ I lamented to myself, what if the staff had said (as there was no one at the bar apart from the couple at the time) “we’ve got two other stouts on at the moment if you would like to try them.”?

I mean, it is a bar staff’s place to proffer a recommendation where it isn’t wanted?

I know plenty of times at beer festivals when a get a bit of a glare or some pursed lips from one of my requests, it is silent code for either ‘I didn’t enjoy this drink’ or, more seriously ‘it’s a crap pint as it didn’t keep well’.

To be fair, in the latter case they will just say so.

But what I’m really trying to get at is, if there is an alternative drink, from a microbrewery, to one from a big national/multinational one, should staff take it upon themselves to offer a taster to someone, just to broaden someone’s horizons if only via the medium of a pint glass?

Of course, whacking blackcurrant syrup in any drink tends to render this moot.

But then again people have been shoving sweeteners in beers for a long time, so maybe its the way forward if the customer wills it.

Beer Tasters

So now, to completely contradict myself I get on to one of my massive pet peeves about this current and apparent boom in beer drinking and the ‘craft’ beer revolution that is sweeping the nation.

I walk into some random bar and there they are…

Lined up like the predictably conformist bunch that they are.

My blood is all ready rising, they don’t even had to do anything, it is their mere presence and what the signal that is pissing me off.

Loads of plastic (or glass if your posh) shot glasses.

Not for shots any more, oh no – shots of spirits and the ever-increasing colours have moved into test tubes, branded glasses, foil sealed tubs, or the most evil, specially constructed Jägerbomb libation devices.

No, these shot glasses are for two types of people; both clueless but from different ends of the spectrum of bewilderment.

The first type are quite blameless.  They want to try a new beer, they know what they do and don’t like but need some guidance.  In lieu of possibly knowledgeable bar staff…

…by that I mean mind readers.  If a person knows what they like but can’t describe it, it doesn’t give anyone much to go on, even the greatest sommelier…

…they go for title or pump-clip design; asking the bar staff of the colour and/or type of drink, much like chimpanzees who can point out what food they want on a menu.

Upon arriving at something that sounds like something they might have had before (or possibly that someone has said its like the most popular and well-known brand of booze), they are offered a shot, which they promptly then have to decide if they should sip it or neck it, because after all it is alcohol and it is in a shot glass.

What happens with these types of people is then miraculous, this is the drink they wanted and they’ll take a pint.

Everyone is happy.

Except me, stood behind them at the bar, wondering why, while all this is going on the bar staff simply can’t serve someone who has a fairly good idea of what they want.

Remember when bar staff could multi-task? They seem so few and far between these days.

Still, at least I’m not in Font Bar, Manchester, one of the best bars in Manchester, with many cask and keg choices (a 25% CAMRA discount on all casks – fuck yes), but that is all tempered by the sound of every clink; as ice hits a glass and this adds another 5 minutes on to your waiting time as some other humanoid student orders another “amusingly” titled cheap cocktail, something vodka based and called Genital Herpes of  Ulcerated Perineum.*

Sorry did I make it sound like it was only one person ordering one cocktail – oh no its always at least five of these bastard, overly complicated drinks that take 80% less time to drink than to make, so without fail these humanoids are back at the bar, taking up staff time.

Still, know your customer base, I’m not going to harangue a bar if its making money and still supplying a large choice of ales.

The second group of people are the cunt-buckets.

These are the type of people who ask for tasters at fucking beer festivals.

These are the people who think they know what they are talking about, who think they know all the subtleties of a drink, whose palates are far too precious to waste on just any beer, no this has to be something special, something different…

…something so mind-numbingly bland and time-consuming that these scrotal sacks try a taster of at least 60% of the beers on offer and ponder over them with the like-minded and equally cock-witted mates of theirs.

And do you know what happens with these types of people…

…miraculously, the first drink they also tried was the one they wanted.

Go fuck yourself Tarquin.

I like dark drinks, but I’ll try anything once and do you know how I do this in a quick and easy way that helps both me, the bar staff and those behind me waiting patiently.


Shit pal, you can get thirds now in some pubs these days.

Live a fucking little will you.

So you might not like the taste, either leave it, share it, but make a mental note so you don’t waste everybody else’s time again with your fucking pantomime, drink tasting twattery.

It isn’t a question of “wasting your money” on something you don’t like.

We waste our money every sodding day in the pursuit of entertainment; buying bad CD’s or watching bad films, going to bad gigs, going on bad dates, entering into bad marriages, spawning terrible children.

But no-one ever wants to taste restaurant food before they buy it.

No one would ever ask for a quick taste of the Fosters, or the Tetley Smooth Flow…

It is just another level of beer pretentiousness.


You know its a good rant when you make up statistics and every other word is a ‘naughty’ word.

Take A Risk.


Be Merry.

Till next time…

*to be fair, that could be the name of any new beer too, or maybe I’ve just been listening to too much Carcass.  Bollocks, there is not such thing as ‘too much Carcass’.


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