Tuesday, 14 July 2009

The Taster

My last post was a little negative and really an outpouring of my feelings about how difficult it is to match the expectations of many, and indeed my own expectations of a pub. I found an interesting post on Fuggled about bars in the USA that serve a dazzling selection of obscure beers. Now whilst the main post was interesting enough, there was a comment by Cooking Lager that I thought was very good indeed. So much so that I'll copy directly here. Perhaps I'm a bit naughty for stealing his words, but it'll make me feel better about him stealing branded glasses.

Variety more than just numbers is preferable. In a pub with dozens of taps, many will be fairly similar. A choice of fairly identical fair is a false choice. You only need one good example of a beer style.

A more important feature is customer service. Something done better in your country than mine.

Punters are not intimidated if in a friendly environment where there is no such thing as a daft question. Offer tasters to the unsure.

Here in Blighty you can go in a pub with dozens of pumps, all of which have daft names rather than detail of what style of beer it is, and bar staff that have no customer skills and expect the punter to be aware of every small micro, its products and treat the unfamiliar punter like dirt.

Be aware the product is a niche and welcome the unfamiliar customer, and beer ticker alike.
A lot of good advise for any niche pub. The taster in particular is something I could evangelise about, something that I really do believe in. I'm not sure that we, here in my pub, do it enough. It's my fault for not pressing home to the staff just how important it is to provide a taster for any customer that is unsure of the product. It really works. Once a customer has tasted a couple and chosen what is preferred, not only did the customer get what was wanted, but has also gained invaluable confidence in the establishment.

Here I go, making demands on the pub industry, which is possibly just the thing I was objecting to previously. But, I wholeheartedly commend tasters and if you go to a pub and are unsure of the selection, ask for a taster, any pub should be happy to provide a taster if it takes beer seriously. If you do run a pub and wonder why you should be giving away free beer, trust me, the confidence it give the customer about you is priceless. Get a number of shot glasses, that way you're not really giving very much away at all.

Now watch it Cooking Lager, there is a big danger of me taking you seriously.

I'm trying to not reduce the size of the font for asides at the end of a post, but sometimes I just can't resist the temptation.


Tim said...

Hmmm, I have the suspicion that Cooking Lager may well be an existing blogger - starting afresh

Unknown said...

Tim, a similar point made by Paul Garrard previously. Could be the case, do you know something more?

In any case, whatever, the guy knows his stuff.

Cooking Lager said...

Thank you for the kind words, Dave. Twice in as many days. You'll be super chilling your beer next.

@Tim, it's I Roger Protz in disguise. I have realised the error of my ways, regret the loss of Red Barrel and Double Diamond, and now drink mainly Carling C2.

Anonymous said...

It is always nice to be offered a taste of the beers you are hoping to buy. However very often on a quiet afternoon what you are given to taste might have been in the pumps for a while and can come across as warm and stale. Sometimes better to go for the plunge and buy a pint. If it is crap then ask for a different one.

Unknown said...

Cooking Lager,

"You'll be super chilling your beer next." - don't push it, I'm not about to give up my pongy beer just yet.


Even for a taster we pull off a little first if it's not been sold in a while. Plus we have temperature controlled jacketed pumps which helps.

Tim said...

I knew it was you Protzy - lets put on red badges and march from Hanoi to Saigon.

Tandleman said...

Tasters are a good idea but can be misleading once the beer is scaled up in my experience. Esecially if the sample given is just about an ounce.

That's also why I've never gone to the GABF.

Unknown said...

Tandleman, I know what you mean. With the size of my mouth 1/2 pint makes a perfect taster.

Martin Cosgrave said...

I often ask for a taster if I'm about to buy a pint of something I've never tasted before. I've never been refused.

Perhaps my comfort in doing this comes from the fact that I visit a lot of cider houses, where the taster is almost obligatory!