Growing irritation at restaurants and bars

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schneemann

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Does anyone else cringe at the thought of buying a beer at most restaurants and bars?

The conversation inevitably goes like this:

"Can I get you something to drink?"
"Yes, what kind of beer do you have?" (because if I just said what I wanted, I'd probably be ordering something they don't have)
"We have Bud, Bud Light, Miller Light, Miller Genuine draft, blah blah blah blah"
"I'm sorry to interrupt, but do you have any microbrews?"
(On the rare occasion they'll think they're being helpful by saying) "Well we have Killians, Blue Moon, Yeungling more blah blah blah"
"OK, do you have Sam Adams?"
"Yes"
"I'll have that"


Don't get me wrong, I actually like Sam Adams Boston Lager, and most of the time when a place has that, they'll have whatever the Sam Adams Seasonal is. But I've been to plenty of places recently where all they have are BMC.

At the very least, restaurants and bars could at least carry one or two regional microbrews.

On a positive note, I was pleasantly surprised to get a Fordham Helles Lager last night at Gunnings Seafood in Hanover MD.
 

Timber

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I can understand your growing dissentiment, however, I also can look at it from their angle.. people like us are in the minority, if they kept it on hand, it coudl take forever to sell the beers because A) most people will stick to what they know and B) they will likely be on the more expensive side.

Dont get me wrong now, there are restaurants that specialise in having a wide selection of beer and they do well, but if I go to my local bar, I dont expect him to keep a microbrew there that will take up space that could be used by Bud light that will earn him more profit over time. I do agree if more people tried microbrew it woudl catch on.. but with the higher markup and all, I dont see it happeneing soon.
 
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I agree it doesn't make financial sense for most bars to carry micro's, but it is damn aggravating too! Find one that does carry different beers and support them!

I usually go with a Sam Adams too.
 
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schneemann

schneemann

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Its not like I expect them to fill their taps with micros.

I don't know what bars and restaurants pay for their beer but I have a hunch that they're paying less than retail price.

A case of New Castle bottles here are my local liquor store is $27, which is $0.56 per bottle of beer. Most bars and restaurants in my area would charge $2 - $5 for that bottle of beer. Or, to get even more "micro", the same prices are charged for Clipper City, a Baltimore area micro.

At $2 per bottle, there's a $72 gross profit per case - about a threefold profit.

Clearly there's a very good profit margin with micros. It might not be the same profit margin as BMC, but its not a money loser, either.
 

Conan

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But can the micros adequetly support the bars and the distributors once the bars catch on? Kyle
 

Moonpile

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Good to see someone else from AACO!

Sadly my restaurant/bar budget has evaporated lately, so I'm not too good on advice for around here, but I find that most places at least make a stab at it. My wife likes Ruby Tuesday and they always have at least SNPA, plus a rotating tap of micros, so she can talk me into that pretty easily.
 

Seawolf

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Here's an idea, and I'm only saying this because I go through the SAME thing every time I go out to eat. Check online before you pick a restaurant. If they have a good beer list, go for it. Don't support the places that don't have what makes you happy. If you were looking for a good burger, you wouldn't go to McDonald's.

It was frustrating to me at the Sox game in Baltimore last week, when I went to a restaurant, and asked about the beer. They had Sam Summer, and Boston Lager, so I went with the Lager. The waiter brought me a cloudy yellow beer, and said " here ya go". I told him that I ordered a Boston Lager, and he said, "I know".

WHAT?!?!?

As a waiter, how could you not know the difference!?! I figured it was a Sam Summer, and decided just to drink it anyway. It didn't look right though. Sam Summer is clear, and this was cloudy! Anyway, I tasted my "Sam Summer" and it tasted like a glass of fermented orange juice. It was really sour, and over carbonated. I've had a lot of Sam Summer in my day, and this was really bad. My girlfriend couldn't understand what my problem was because her glass tasted fine. Later, after complaining and getting what I originally ordered, my GF tried mine and understood my complaint. It was a bad. really bad.

I think I'll be taking my own advise from now on. www.yelp.com is my friend.
 

Rick_R

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A case of New Castle bottles here are my local liquor store is $27, which is $0.56 per bottle of beer.
I believe you halved the price, but I understand your point. Keep in mind, though, there are still cost such as storage, handling, etc. that are there. If that case takes up room that could be utilized by something that goes out the door faster, why keep the slow mover on hand? Unless it can bring in more customers than would otherwise be there, it isn't really worth it.

Rick
 

Sir Humpsalot

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I don't care about them having microbrews... but I do care about different styles.

I recently found a bar on my way home from work that sells the half liter bottles of Franziskaner for five bucks.

A draft pint of Bud is $3.50.

Who cares if they don't have Rogue or Bell's or whatever. Give me a hefeweizen, an amber, a pils, a Wit, a stout, etc and I'll be happy. It's not about the rare freakish things that nobody's ever heard of.... it's about having variety to offer your customers. I simply can't imagine a Bud drinker boycotting a restaurant because he can only get a Miller...

Variety is what I like to see. Who cares if the hefe is Franziskaner, the stout is Guinness, the amber is Sam Adams, the Pils is a skunky Pilsener Urquell and the wit is Blue Moon. At least you can choose a beer based on your appetite and dinner selection... so what if it's not a "great" beer?

Sure, micros are awesome, but I can see why they aren't kept in stock in some places. But no variety of styles? Doesn't your wine list have reds and whites? Come on, man!


Maybe that "split" is what causes the problem for restaurants- are you supposed to supply 5 styles of mediocre beer? Or should you supply 5 brands that people have never heard of? I'll tell you that most folks eating at most restaurants aren't going to order a beer they've never heard of... and yet the beer snobs probably won't order a Killians anyway. So it's kind if a Catch 22 unless you fashion yourself as a beer bar aimed at appeasing both sides of the fence. Still though, there are the few large brands that deliver a good product.... If I had to make the smallest possible beer list to appease the masses, I'd carry Bud Light, Heineken, Franziskaner or Hoegarden (Fat Tire in the winter), and Guinness on tap... with Miller, Corona, and Honey Brown in bottles. 4 taps, 3 bottles, and I'd probably cover 99.8% of the beer drinkers including a lot of the beer snobs, the ignorant but adventurous, and the picky stick-in-the-muds.

Frankly, I think Heineken is a great beer when served from a can or keg, and the wheat beer and Guinness would show the beer snobs that I'm trying.
 

brewt00l

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luckily we have plenty of decent places to eat with a great beer selection in my area...though, lots of places I like to go for the food don't and in those cases, I just have unsweetened iced tea.
 

ajwillys

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Hmm, I've noticed the exact opposite trend in my area.

Lately, I've noticed that more and more places are having craft beer on tap and especially bottled. Even the 'college bars' around here usually at least have Magic Hat and Sierra Nevada. Most average to upscale places have at least 5 or 6 beers that are micro's. Of course, my favorite restaurants all have 20+ craft brews on a rotating basis.
 

p4ck37p1mp

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The only places I know of local here that carry micros are mom and pop bars, restaurants, etc. They usually carry Sweetwater, a micro in ATL that makes decent beer. Its just not common for people to have a palate. I feel the same about food in most places I go, its rare that I get food I can't make better myself at home.
 

Bob_E

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Around here when ever I go to a new restaurant I ask with a little bit of hope "what kind of beer do you have" and usually get an answer along the lines of "All of them. Bud, Miller and Coors"
One time I had a waitress just stare at me like I was speaking a foreign language, or was somehow mentally deficient because I asked the question. Of course they had all 3 of um too...
:mug:
 

sigmund

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Around here when ever I go to a new restaurant I asked with a little bit of hope "what kind of beer do you have" and usually get an answer along the lines of "All of them. Bud, Miller and Coors"

:mug:
I do pretty much the same and hope for a different answer, but usually get the same canned response. I guess it's the cost of doing business that keeps the selection so limited, but it is nice to find the rare microbrew at other than a microbrewery.
 

Sir Humpsalot

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Around here when ever I go to a new restaurant I ask with a little bit of hope "what kind of beer do you have" and usually get an answer along the lines of "All of them. Bud, Miller and Coors"
One time I had a waitress just stare at me like I was speaking a foreign language, or was somehow mentally deficient because I asked the question. Of course they had all 3 of um too...
:mug:
Try replying with, "Hmm... I never heard of them before... which one of those is the darkest?"
 

CBBaron

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My rant is why is it so hard to have a beer list available to the customer?
It seems you have to ask to find out what they have and of course the waiter's start going through a list of the standard BMC. Many times after their spiel I've ordered water because nothing was interesting only to notice on my way to the bathroom that them have a tap with a good micro on it.

Just have a list of beers available on the table or in the menu. They usually do it with wine why not beer?

Craig
 

enderwig

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Just have a list of beers available on the table or in the menu. They usually do it with wine why not beer?

Craig
+1
I ate out last night. First thing I asked for was to see a beer list, the waitress said " the what?" So, I asked where is the bar. Got to the bar looked around, returned to my table and ordered a coke. :( meh
 

Kevin Dean

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This might be a symptom of the places you're going, actually. Places like Applebee's will never, ever stock anything better for the reasons mentioned above.

I tend to frequent smaller bars or regional chains. They almost always rotate at least one of the beers they have on top, they push that beer hard with those little table stand menu thingies and they frequently take requests for the next beer. It's a great way to get micros and local brews out, especially if there's something you like. In some cases, if it sells well, it enters the regular rotation.

But yes, in general I've found dining out to be a completely horrid experience, and what you've described is one of the reasons.
 

JoMarky

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I've found that slightly higher-end restaurants often have higher-end beers.
 

Special Hops

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It's the restaurant you go to. I try avoid places that don't at least one local micro on tap. can't always be done. But if they don't have decent beer you wont find me going there again. Vote with your wallet.

And if they don't I usually tell the waiter/waitress (nicely) they should start carrying the beer from the local brewery. 9 of 10 will ignore the comment. But I figure a few will tell the manager/owner and maybe, just maybe, they will think about adding some more beer choices.
 

Rick500

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I go to the Outback every few weeks, and usually end up having the Sam Adams seasonal... unfortunately, it seems like they don't clean their beer lines, and it usually doesn't taste like it's supposed to.
 
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Who cares if they don't have Rogue or Bell's or whatever. Give me a hefeweizen, an amber, a pils, a Wit, a stout, etc and I'll be happy. It's not about the rare freakish things that nobody's ever heard of.... it's about having variety to offer your customers. I simply can't imagine a Bud drinker boycotting a restaurant because he can only get a Miller...
Back in the day I would not have gone there if they didn't have Bud. (Thought I was a Beer connoisseur) ;)
 

TwoHeadsBrewing

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Just think about it this way: the more frustrated you get, the more likely you'll go to a bar/restaurant that has micro brews on tap. Those places will do better and either take over the competition or the competition will wise up. With AB trying to enter the craft scene, I don't think it will be long before restaurants start realizing what's up. Vote with your dollars...or better yet, tell the manager about their lackluster beer selection!
 

hoplobster

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It is an extraordinarily frustrating experience when a restaurant or bar doesn't carry anything decent in the realm of beer, and honestly, that's why I've taken a majority of the big chains and franchises "off the list". Besides having sub-par food, the beer menu is usually lacking the waitstaff usually has no idea beyond the Bud, Bud Light, Miller, Miller Lite etc... offerings.

I usually stick to places that have consistently good food, beer and service. I've sworn off Fridays, Ruby Tuesdays, Outback, Applebees, Chilis and the like. Their food is always over seasoned, over cooked and over priced. However, Buffalo Wild Wings is a chain that I do like because they usually have a decent beer menu and they have a few decent food items that no one can really screw up...

My biggest gripe is with the wait staff that is under trained/ignorant. I recall a time when I went to Friday's and I ordered a Bell's Amer Ale and what I got was a glass of Killian's at the Bell's price. I asked my server if she was sure they poured from the right tap and she said no, she just put the order in. Now, I know that there is a rather big difference between Killian's Irish Red and Bell's Amer Ale and I knew that what I was tasting was not what I had ordered. I politely asked that she ask the bartender and sure enough, they poured the wrong beer... I wonder how many others are getting screwed? I know it's a small difference in price, but if I hadn't said anything, that's just enabling them to keep on ripping people off... Anyway, they don't carry Bell's any more because it didn't sell and they replaced it Stella, which sells better because, you know, they have a national advertising campaign and people think that they're indulging in the greatest Belgain beer ever made...

In summary, I'm lucky enough to be withing driving distance to many great brewpubs that offer both excellent food and beer menus and I would much rather support a locally owned business that actually creates a quality product at a fair price rather than a large corporation that feels that charring a chicken breast and pairing it with Stella is a gourmet meal.
 

brandona33

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The restaurant I bartend at stocks Rogue, Ithaca, Abita, Magic Hat, etc. Mostly a bottle bar, and people love it. They Go in order everytime they come in and try something new, right down the shelf. Simple to stock 1 case of a variety of beers, track what moves, and if something doesnt, I drink it and they bring in something that will. I especially love my role in this!
 

kjung

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I recently had to go to a restaurant for a meeting for the shop that I work for. During a break, I went up to the bar and asked the woman, who was the manager, if they have Sam Adams, thinking that EVERYONE has Sam by now, and was told "No". she then proceeded to name what they DID have, all of it BMC-type swill. (That is another of my main complaints. If I JUST asked for a premium beer why do they list the BMC products ???) At one point, she stopped and said "I'm forgetting something," to which I replied, "Yeah, the good stuff." She then named one more beer, and I responded that I'll stick with water.
As I walked away, I heard her say to one of my co-workers, "What's HIS problem ?"
I walked back to her and told her that my MAIN problem was that I actually have fuctioning tastebuds, and know what beer SHOULD taste like, and that my OTHER problem was people in the service industry that don't know how to treat the people paying their salary.
 

jeder212

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Thats why I'm glad I have a Flying Saucer just 20 min away. They may not have a large selection of food, but what they do have is good. But they do have over 200 beers. I love that place.
 

TwoHeadsBrewing

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The restaurant I bartend at stocks Rogue, Ithaca, Abita, Magic Hat, etc. Mostly a bottle bar, and people love it. They Go in order everytime they come in and try something new, right down the shelf. Simple to stock 1 case of a variety of beers, track what moves, and if something doesnt, I drink it and they bring in something that will. I especially love my role in this!
Can I send you my resume? Sounds like I could have a bright future there :drunk:.
 

batches_brew

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Wow, I didn't realize how spoiled I am. Here in LA, most restaurants I go to have at least a couple micros. I'm shocked if a place doesn't, and that means I'm not drinking. I lived in SLC before that and didn't realize how great it was with all the brewpubs and Brewvies (movie theater with micro on tap.

I feel for you guys.
 

Dr Vorlauf

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When I moved to the Lehigh Valley, PA from Manhattan I was a bit concerned about the restaurants. The lower end places seem to not be able to produce decent meals ( I mean I have to drive 20 mins for a decent thin crust pizza !!).

But I found so many gems in this area that all is good. One of my local favorites is The Farmhouse in Emmaus, PA. Amazing food and a rediculious selection of beers on tap and in the bottle:

http://www.thefarmhouse.com
http://www.thefarmhouse.com/E-3rd-Thurs.html

:off: Any way to have a thread dedicated to local great finds for beer related items ( food/beer etc )?
 

ChshreCat

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I'm fairly fortunate in where I live. The Pacific Northwest is such a beer valhalla it's rare to find a place that didn't at least keep one or two halfway decent micros in bottles. Finding a good one on draft is a *little* harder, but many will devote at least one tap.

One thing I'm hoping is that that Budweiser American Ale catches on. I think that it might work as a stepping stone for some of the BMC drinkers. Folks who wouldn't think of drinking a microbrew might try it since it says "Bud" on it, like it and might be more likely to branch out. More folks drinking microbrews... more bars and restaurants carrying more variety.
 

vtchuck

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Wow, I didn't realize how spoiled I am. Here in LA, most restaurants I go to have at least a couple micros. I'm shocked if a place doesn't, and that means I'm not drinking. I lived in SLC before that and didn't realize how great it was with all the brewpubs and Brewvies (movie theater with micro on tap.

I feel for you guys.
+1 We Vermonters are spoiled as well. Harpoon and/or Long Trail are available on tap almost everywhere in central Vermont. Just got back from the Quechee Scottish Festival and the Trout River people were pouring $3 pints....for $5 you got a pint and a Trout River pint glass.
 

mrfocus

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Last time I was in a restaurant the conversation went something like this:

Waitress: "Would you like something to drink?"
Me: "Sure, what kind of beer do you have"
Waitress: "Oh pretty much all of them"
(In my head I'm going thinking either they have a bunch of microbrews and imports or she doesn't know what she's talking about)
Me: "Like what?"
Waitress: "Budweiser, Coors Light, Molson... Moretti"
Me: "Alright I'll take a Moretti"
 

Rick_R

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Waitress: "Would you like something to drink?"
Me: "Sure, what kind of beer do you have"
Waitress: "Oh pretty much all of them"
I always like to answer that one with "Then I'll have a Young's Double Chocolate Stout."
Waitress: "Um, we don't have that one."
"Oh, okay then, how about a Samuel Smith Taddy Porter."
Waitress: "Um, we don't have that either."
"Hobgoblin?"
Waitress: "Um . . . ."
"Okay, then, what do you have?"

Stupid, I know, but I get my thrills in small ways.

Rick
 

HOOTER

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Here in the Inland Northwest most of our restaurants have at least a couple micro's on tap, and many have a good selection. We love our microbrew's around here and restaurant owner's know it.
 

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I guess I'm pretty lucky here in Kansas City, at a minimum just about every resturant (including some of the major chains) have Boulevard Wheat and most also will cary their pale ale and a seasonal. So its not odd to find some of the other mircobrew type beers including some of the actual local micro brews.
 
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I ordered a Bell's Amer Ale and what I got was a glass of Killian's at the Bell's price.
This sort of thing is FAR more irritating than a poor selection. It's hard to blame a restaurant for a limited selection of BMC and when the bulk of their clientèle prefers BMC. I'm to a point where, unless I'm in a beer oriented establishment, it's nearly impossible to get excited about anything that's on tap. Rather than getting irritated with a poorly trained waitress, I chuckle quietly to myself when the response is, "Oh, we're totally out of that heffenweezer stuff." Rather than blowing a gasket about a bad beer list, I just drink water.
 

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I always like to ask "Do you have anything on tap that I can't read a newspaper through?"
 

GregR

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I guess I'm pretty lucky being in San Diego. it is pretty rare to find a place that only has BMC's on top. although I did find a 'bar' that pretty much only sells tall boys of PBR! I don't think you can go into a restaurant here that DOESN'T have Stone on tap. plus it seems the places here really like to support the local breweries (Stone, Ballast point, Karl Strauss, Coronado).

but my favorite place to try a new beer has to be the Yard House. nothing like 120+ beers on tap.
 
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