Are beer bars lacking in soul?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by MatthewPlus, Mar 5, 2013.

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  1. BrewUrbanist

    BrewUrbanist Initiate (0) May 11, 2012 Wisconsin

    I think soul is hard to manufacture. Its something that a bar has to earn. Thus, many new beer bars opening up (whether they are genuinely passionate about craft, or just trying to capitalize on the trend), have a difficult time cultivating that atmosphere. Soul comes from tradition, from building relationships with regulars, the local community, etc. It doesn't happen overnight.

    I agree w/ many above that the quality of the beer matters - but if choosing between 2 bars with similar offerings, I'd take the one that feels to me most like a relaxed place I'd enjoy spending time in. It also helps that I live in a city with a few hundred different bars to choose from.
    HRamz3, KarlHungus and yemenmocha like this.
  2. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) Dec 10, 2011 California

    I want a bar where everyone knows my name.

  3. Longstaff

    Longstaff Initiate (0) May 23, 2002 Massachusetts

    I thought the same until someone pointed out it was nice to be able to return a beer, describe its faults to the bartender, and have them understand what you are talking about. Nothing worse than the condescending "we've been selling it all day and no one else complained, but I'll get you something else if you don't like it". But yeah, I'm not looking for conversation with the bartender when I go out to a bar, just a beer I like to drink served in a timely manner at a reasonable price - and a place to sit, or stand if I have to.
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  4. eggmaggi

    eggmaggi Initiate (0) Aug 11, 2012 Oregon

    Never went to a Taprooms/Beer bar on the West Coast that I dint like.
  5. Zhiguli

    Zhiguli Initiate (0) Jul 12, 2012 California

    I want cozy pub atmosphere. A place you just want to hang out and might even want to see some old timers. There are a couple like that in LA. Most are on the soulless side. When beer is the only focus it's just not the same for me.
    HRamz3 likes this.
  6. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado

    Quick and to the point response: You say you are a capitalist. Corporations are capitalism embodied. Corporations have money and want to make more. The craft beer industry is the only segment of the adult beverage market showing growth. Get my drift?

    As far as having a beer conversation with a server, no thanks. More often than not, they don't know as much as I do and then they try to piss on my leg and tell me it's raining.
    Roguer, yemenmocha and rousee like this.
  7. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Initiate (0) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    The buy local religion minions are often looking down on the corporate places, but the selection at some are good enough for me - plus the service is in a better league altogther. I like IPA's. Here's this part of the list at my corporate place I like:

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  8. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Initiate (0) Mar 18, 2010 California

    Some are, some aren't. I like to check out new places though, so I just decide if I would ever go back again. It's all subjective.
  9. SunDevilBeer

    SunDevilBeer Defender (644) May 9, 2003 Massachusetts

    I've pretty much given up on "premier" beer bars that are popular with beer geeks. Most have become overrun with hipsters and/or self-important douchebags and simply aren't fun places to hang out in. Bad staff attitudes, short/expensive pours, uppity clientele, simple food described fancily (and charged for fancily too) don't add up to a fun environment for me.

    Thankfully, with the proliferation of craft beer's popularity, I can get craft beer at other bars and restaurants without setting foot in such places. I don't expect alot of "knowledge" from the other side of the bar - just quick, friendly service - a lost art in some places nowadays unfortunately.

    I am a fan of the Yard House too. Always enjoy myself there.
  10. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Initiate (0) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    Agree on a lot of those, or the places with great tap lists but lame food like frozen & reheated pretzels. At one such place during the day I looked around and realized I was the only one without a hoodie.
  11. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Initiate (0) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    Find something else to think about!
  12. jimmy666

    jimmy666 Initiate (0) Jun 20, 2010 Maryland

    I'm with ya on this and try not to go to places like this unless for a special release and even then I just want to drink my beer and leave quickly. I have never needed to discuss the gravity or hop profile of a beer with a bartender or waitstaff, I only want what I ordered. Usually I'm with fellow BA's and we don't even talk that much about the beers lol.
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  13. darky

    darky Initiate (0) Apr 16, 2010 South Dakota

  14. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Initiate (0) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    Why not just quote so I can know you quoted me? :slight_smile:

    Well, if my glass is empty and the server walks past and tells me it will be a few more minutes because she's going to smoke... I don't care what the selection is. :angry:

    I've heard such examples and worse yet those folks just give a place high recommendations and scores in the beerfly overall - because, hey, they have this great taplist. Others admit to me they would never, ever eat at some of them if it was just a restaurant without beer (they're acknowledging the lame food). I think many BA's err to that side of things when it comes to reviewing, e.g. not knocking a place down for the faults and only/mostly keeping in mind the selection.
  15. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Initiate (0) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    Same here. I just want to receive what I order and not discuss anything with anyone who works there. Plus, the good service you normally get elsewhere and good food. Not lofty expectations here.
    5thOhio, Zhiguli and jimmy666 like this.
  16. YamBag

    YamBag Initiate (174) Feb 2, 2007 Pennsylvania

    I live in Chester County, PA and have a lot of great places, but I do get frustrated with some of the places that have recently started selling craft beer. I feel they often have a bad mix of beers on tap, serve to cold and often serve beers in smaller glasses than they need to. The good thing is I have plenty of great places that get it right and I choose to frequent them.
  17. Giantspace

    Giantspace Champion (837) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    All bars I go to have plenty of soul. You need to sell your soul to afford a few pints.

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  18. animal69

    animal69 Meyvn (1,037) Sep 21, 2007 Louisiana

    Idk, both my beer oasis are local hotspots n always packed, hell one never even closes ( new orleans boasts a 24-7 alcohol law !) so you can't say they don't have heart, esp. during mardi gras ! Most beer bars i've been to around the country are pretty much the same way too, maybe you live around too many assholes, lol
    TheBoog013 likes this.
  19. Kinsman

    Kinsman Initiate (0) Aug 26, 2009 California

    While I usually substitute the word 'soul' for 'character' instead, I agree it is hard to manufacture. I've been to my fair share of some of the more reputable beer bars through out New England and while I always find good beer and enjoy myself just fine, I rarely leave with a feeling that I would want to be a regular there. One of my favorite places to grab a pint is the Shannon Door pub in Jackson, NH. It's your basic Irish pub inside a big old house just outside of town. Nothing fancy at all about it; I know before I walk in the door that I'm ordering either Harpoon IPA or Sam Adams BL or seasonal but that doesn't matter to me. They've been around longer than anyone else around (60 years this year IIRC) and the character/soul thats built up over the decades just can't been matched by some shiny new beer bar. Give me an old drunk singing Irish folk songs on stage, the company of good friends, and a pint of Boston Lager, and I'm a happy man.
    yemenmocha likes this.
  20. BBThunderbolt

    BBThunderbolt Poo-Bah (7,904) Sep 24, 2007 Kiribati
    Society Trader

    Maybe I'm just fortunate in where I live but, the concept of a "beer bar" is rare around here. All bars carry good beer. Even the sketchy dive bar in my town, notorious for hosting several serial killers (take that you F'n hipster faux "dives"!) has FW Union Jack and a couple other craft beer options.
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  21. MrOH

    MrOH Meyvn (1,334) Jul 5, 2010 Maryland

    If you're coming to Philly for the NHC, come by Lemon Hill and I'll try to make sure we're playing some that night.
  22. BrewUrbanist

    BrewUrbanist Initiate (0) May 11, 2012 Wisconsin

    My girlfriend is from Madison, WI, and this is something I've noticed there. Even the worst bars have a handful of decent beers available. At the very least you're going to find 1 or 2 New Glarus taps. Its very easy to find a pub with the right character without having to sacrifice (much) in the way of quality beer.

    In DC, of the 10 or so dedicated 'beer bars', I'd say only 1 really has a character/soul/vibe that makes it a place I truly want to spent lots of time in (Meridian Pint)...and of course its the hardest for me to get to. I still visit the other ones for special events, etc., but don't feel a connection to those places.
  23. HRamz3

    HRamz3 Initiate (0) Feb 9, 2010 Pitcairn

    Isn't this more of an overall regional issue? Areas of vast "sprawl" are likely to have a lot of cozy, well worn, 150 year old taverns.
  24. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (3,146) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
    Society Trader

    Yes, I generally visit a high end craft beer establishment for the sole purpose of drinking something I can't get easily in a bottle shop. Otherwise I'm much more content to buy 1/3 priced bottles vs. bar pricing and share quality beer with my pals at one of our houses where its more peaceful to talk, no driving issues, cheaper etc.
  25. marquis

    marquis Champion (802) Nov 20, 2005 England

    To me it's all about how I feel when I walk in.Some pubs wrap themselves round me.It's not to do with the beer selection , some of my very favourite pubs of all time only offer three or four different ones.No problem as there'll be something that I like.As long as it's well kept.
    Friendly and helpful staff , decent beer, prompt service, glass topped up to full measure are all important features.No problem at all finding all these and more pretty well anywhere.
    I've been to beer bars with masses of choice and as much "feel" as a dentist's waiting room.Choice is an overrated item in my book.
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  26. mmmbirra

    mmmbirra Initiate (0) Apr 19, 2009 Italy

    I look for atmosphere first and foremost, and then the quality of the beers they do have. The number of beers is very unimportant. There are quite a few craft bars with many taps and lots of bottles that I never visit unless there's a gueuze or some other kind of sour on tap that my wife really wants. Amongst the craft drinking crowd though, even in these parts, I seem to be in the minority.
  27. BorisKarloff

    BorisKarloff Initiate (0) Apr 29, 2013 Ohio

    There are a couple of World of Beer locations now in Columbus - the downtown location usually has some really great taps and is definitely worth checking out, but it's got entirely too much of a sports bar vibe for me to make it out there too often.
  28. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,086) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Any good beer bar and experience, including ambience, soul (Percy Sledge was my choice), depends entirely on the brains of the operation. These things do not happen by accident. Also, what one person likes another may detest. There isn't only one formula.
  29. Kanger

    Kanger Initiate (0) Sep 3, 2013 New York

    I love my beer bar. Even have their logo on tattooed my arm.
  30. Providence

    Providence Crusader (704) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    Prove it!
  31. Harnkus

    Harnkus Initiate (0) Oct 31, 2013 New York

    Problem with beer bars is that they're brimming with beer geeks, perhaps the most unsexy sorts in the male canon. This subsequently leads to a soulless atmosphere.
  32. JayORear

    JayORear Meyvn (1,227) Feb 22, 2012 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

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  33. champ103

    champ103 Poo-Bah (4,866) Sep 3, 2007 Texas

    People must not really try hard to explore the area in which they live. I can list dozens of locally owned places off the top of my head with excellent atmosphere, selection, food, and service in Houston, and pretty much any other place that I have lived/worked.
  34. Chinon01

    Chinon01 Initiate (0) Jan 23, 2007 Pennsylvania

    You can tell places where the proprietor and staff are as excited about beer as you are. I tend to stay away from places that don't share that passion unless I'm on the road and it's the only game in town.
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  35. JrGtr

    JrGtr Devotee (426) Apr 13, 2006 Massachusetts

    Personally, I don't really need a server to tell me everything about beer; I know it myself, but they should at least be familiar with the beers they have, and can at least give me a cliff's notes version about what it is.
    All too often I've asked about a beer, and they either tried to tell me something completely false, ("Hop Devil? well, it's really dark and bitter, like Guinness") or don't know what they have on tap.
  36. Smakawhat

    Smakawhat Poo-Bah (7,614) Mar 18, 2008 Maryland

    I get really spoiled around my neck of the woods... :slight_smile:
  37. bleakies

    bleakies Disciple (358) Apr 11, 2011 Massachusetts

    Et voila.
  38. bleakies

    bleakies Disciple (358) Apr 11, 2011 Massachusetts

    I prefer a place that isn't too loud so I'm free to converse with others or with my own thoughts, and that isn't too dark to allow for reading. Otherwise I'm pretty flexible. I've also managed to get well into middle age without having developed any allergies against hipsters, so-called, which expands my options further.

    I would generally rather give my money to a local establishment than to a chain based elsewhere, but when a chain turns out to be the markedly better option, beerwise, I'll go there instead.
  39. markdrinksbeer

    markdrinksbeer Initiate (0) Nov 14, 2013 Massachusetts

    If you have never been to a Juke Joint, I highly suggest it, especially one down south in Georgia or something. You will get all the soul you want.
  40. RichardMNixon

    RichardMNixon Initiate (0) Jun 24, 2012 Pennsylvania

    Reminds me of the first two pubs in "The World's End;" they'd been 'Starbucks-ed.'

    Ugh, it took me 20 minutes to get a beer. If that's soul, then I'll pass. I had quicker service during Max's Belgianfest and Monk's Zwanze Day.
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