Beer (menus) at upscale restaurants get no respect.

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by otispdriftwood, Dec 29, 2014.

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  1. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado

    As a dedicated craft beer drinker [definition: I don't drink wine and I can count the number of cocktails I've had in the last 3 years on one hand] I had a situation last weekend that I can honestly say "I don't get no respect" about.

    A group of 9 at an upscale restaurant for a birthday celebration. When I walk in, I check the bar to see what's on draft - just for curiosity. There's 5 taps - one is Anchor Steam but the rest of the handles only have the brewery name, not the beer. So when it's time to order drinks, I ask the waiter "what kind of beer do you have"? A normal question. He proceeds to give me the brewery names, but not the beer names. I inform him that X brewery makes many kinds of beer but he seems disinterested and doesn't bother saying "I'll go check" or "we have a list" so I order an Anchor. No complaints about the beer. Proper glass and temperature. Strike one.

    Time for dessert. The dessert menus contain a FRIGGIN BEER LIST!!!! Draft and bottles. And there were some killer bottles on it for reasonable prices. And one of the drafts is one of a local brewery's IPAs which I really enjoy. Strike two and three. If there wasn't an automatic gratuity added since it was a large group, the tip would surely have reflected the waiter's nonchalance when it came to beer, even if there was only one person at the table interested in it. I'm tempted to write to the restaurant but since the place isn't what it used to be [I'd been there before a few years ago], I won't be going back there anyway.

    By the way, the wine list was extensive and expensive and they make a big deal when serving a bottle of wine. Large fancy glassware, gold corkscrew, the tasting crap first, you get the idea. And oh yeah, coming around to pour the last bit in the bottle into someone's glass and asking if we wanted another bottle But beer? Hell, I had to flag the waiter down to get a 2nd.

    No respect. No respect.
  2. TheIPAHunter

    TheIPAHunter Grand Pooh-Bah (5,160) Aug 12, 2007 California
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    The bottom line (beer aside) is that wait staff are being paid to provide a service. As customers, we reserve the right to choose who merits our business. I feel your pain, bro. I would have been absolutely livid.
    jrnyc likes this.
  3. threeviews

    threeviews Initiate (0) Apr 18, 2011 Florida

    I agree with a lighter tip to a waiter that doesn't show much knowledge in a restaurant's offerings (drinks, specials: apps and entrees, desserts, etc.). However, if you were unimpressed with the waiter's reaction AND the others in your party knew you were a 'beer geek,' I would have simply gotten up from the table and approached the bartender for clarification (and then tipped him).
    #3 threeviews, Dec 29, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2014
    DrStiffington and jesskidden like this.
  4. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado

    And what was the beer list doing on the dessert menu anyway?

    FYI: The original title of the post was "Now I know how Rodney felt" but was changed. Reason: "vague subject".

    Query to the moderators: What's vague about Rodney's famous tag line?

    That's Rodney Dangerfield.
    #4 otispdriftwood, Dec 29, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2014
  5. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado

    In an "upscale" restaurant, I do not expect to have to leave the table for information. Call it snobbery, call it anything you want. If I was in Chili's, that's different but not when an average entree costs $25.
  6. elkabong

    elkabong Initiate (0) Apr 1, 2014 Wisconsin


    if you want to know the answer to your question and the server doesn't have it, ask to speak with a manager. that's..... human interaction 101.
  7. Gajo74

    Gajo74 Pooh-Bah (2,721) Sep 14, 2014 New York
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    I can understand how you feel as I would probably slightly annoyed myself. I've noticed that many of the so called high end restaurants have not caught up with the world of high end craft beer. If the waiter wasn't so knowledgeable about beer, I would have insisted on seeing a lust. Even if he/she gets annoyed, it's our right as paying customers to demand good service. By the way, I'm from New York also. Out of curiosity, what restaurant was it?
    dianimal likes this.
  8. cnbrown313

    cnbrown313 Initiate (0) May 29, 2012 Illinois

    I've run into a lot of upscale, old school restaurants that don't offer any decent craft beers and really push their wine selection. In this case though, it sounds like you just got a crappy waiter... which honestly shouldn't happen in an upscale place.
  9. kerry4porters

    kerry4porters Initiate (0) Dec 31, 2012 Arizona

    that might have needed to be added the Dangerfield as there are a few Rodneys in the world and not everyone would autmatically think of him... although I did. :wink:
  10. iTunesUpdates

    iTunesUpdates Initiate (0) May 7, 2014 Florida

    This is not a big deal normally but for an upscale restaurant, this is nuts.
  11. BMBCLT

    BMBCLT Grand Pooh-Bah (3,353) May 9, 2014 South Carolina

    Quit going to upscale restaraunts, unless you like wine or AAL's. Also, that waiter should be fired.

    THANAT0PSIS Pooh-Bah (2,189) Aug 3, 2010 Wisconsin

    Despite the absolute explosion that craft beer is still undergoing, it hasn't quite become as respected in upscale restaurants as it perhaps should. I'm of the belief that beer should command just as much respect as wine, and upscale restaurants would do well to hire a dedicated beer guy to curate a list just as they might have a sommelier, ideally the beer equivalent, cicerone.

    I also think that in such an upper class setting where the waitstaff is usually very knowledgeable about the menu and winelist/liquor/cocktail offerings, I should be able to expect them to at least know what is on tap/in bottles and ideally be able to describe the offerings.

    That said, beer is very much viewed as a working man's blue collar beverage from the perspective of many in the upper crust, and in many ways it still really is. It will be some time, I think, before so-called "classy" restaurants outside of beer-centric cities (Portland, San Diego, etc.) really adopt craft beer as a genuine alternative to wine, neat liquor, and cocktails.
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  13. TooGood

    TooGood Initiate (0) Jan 28, 2014 Minnesota

    Went to a Biaggi's Italian Restaurant last night and a full page of menu was devoted to wine, another section of menu devoted to "Craft" cocktails and desert drinks. NO MENTION OF BEER ANYWHERE. I had to ask the waitress and she rattled off the 4 taps they had (one was Surly Furious) so I stopped her and ordered a Furious. I base my dining choices greatly on the beer that is served, I couldn't give a flying phuck about wine and craft cocktails. Definitely NO RESPECT.
    jrnyc likes this.
  14. bleakies

    bleakies Maven (1,319) Apr 11, 2011 Massachusetts

    Perhaps they figured people would miss the "no respect" line since it's so hard to get past the idea of a restaurant having a good beer list and keeping its particulars secret until the end of the meal, which just seems bonkers.
  15. AugustusRex

    AugustusRex Initiate (0) Apr 12, 2013 Canada (ON)

    Being a beer drinker means you can't love wine?

    Personally I agree that there are few non-Belgian beers that pair well with steak or seafood. I can see why restaurants assume guests will ask for wine. You need high alcohol and/or high acidity when paired with food, huge hops, huge roast or huge sweetness is a detriment when pairing with food. The culture is what it is we aren't at a Belgian bistro.
    mrpeterandthepuffers likes this.
  16. King_Ranch

    King_Ranch Initiate (0) Feb 19, 2014 Texas

    Kind of this...

    I would have spoken to the manager about three things.

    The beer selection, the waiter, and the mandatory gratuity.
  17. DrumKid003

    DrumKid003 Initiate (0) Aug 10, 2013 Oklahoma

    Let's see:
    1) you could've gone and asked the bartender
    2) you could've asked to speak with the manager
    You seem like the type that would walk out on your friends if they invited you to dinner and the place didn't serve 95+ rated beer on every tap handle. Get over yourself.
  18. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Initiate (0) Mar 18, 2010 California

    Vote with your wallet.
    crob3888 likes this.
  19. AugustusRex

    AugustusRex Initiate (0) Apr 12, 2013 Canada (ON)

    I think Anchor Steam is a great all around choice for pairing with food.

    Is it just me or is it embarrassing when beer people pair FBS, Bigfoot, Thomas Hardy's, or something along these lines with a good dinner?

    It's generally accepted that sweet spirits and dessert wines come after the meal, beer doesn't defy culinary science.

    ,**But yeah, the restaurant should not have put the beer list on the dessert menu
    #19 AugustusRex, Dec 29, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2014
  20. DrumKid003

    DrumKid003 Initiate (0) Aug 10, 2013 Oklahoma

    Mandatory gratuity is always involved when it comes to larger parties because the tables don't turnover nearly as often. A party of 9 would usually take up 2-3 tables and turnover only once, when those tables by themselves would probably turnover 2-3 times in the same amount of time. Therefore the waiter(s) are losing out on a possible tip from 5-9 different tickets as opposed to one. Also, one or a handful of people complaining about the beer selection isn't going to win you any points at any restaurant, regardless of whether you're talking to the manager or not and isn't going to change the way they do business. It just makes you sound like an egocentric prick trying to tell them how to run their business, when they've been successful for a number of years already.
    BBThunderbolt likes this.
  21. bleakies

    bleakies Maven (1,319) Apr 11, 2011 Massachusetts

    How odd for a restaurant to keep a good beer list but to keep its particulars secret until the dessert menu comes around at the end of the meal. I keep trying to imagine the rationale behind that but I'm stymied. Perhaps someone suffered a head injury just before he or she printed up the menus.

    My beer experiences at upscale restaurants in my town have been good in the sense of solid options, but less good in the sense that I was paying so much for these solid options by drinking them in upscale restaurants.
    Gajo74 likes this.
  22. Scarfer_Brad

    Scarfer_Brad Initiate (0) Mar 19, 2014 Florida

    Go To Carmine's Italian Restaraunt by Time Square in NYC you will never get a mandatory tip no matter howw big the party is... a lot of other places are like this or it is up to the servers to decide. when I asked at Carmine's why they said they get tipped BETTER when it isn't mandatory. If I am out for a business dinner we tip more than 20% because we take up a bunch of time
  23. King_Ranch

    King_Ranch Initiate (0) Feb 19, 2014 Texas

    I understand the practice, thanks.

    I would be pointing out that the wait staff should not be giving shit lassie faire service because they are "guaranteed" a certain percentage tip.
  24. Tsar_Riga

    Tsar_Riga Pooh-Bah (2,753) Sep 9, 2013 Indiana
    Pooh-Bah Society

    Sympathy you have, but understand that most upscale restaurants don't focus on beer because it doesn't pay to focus on beer in comparison to wine. A single bottle of wine can go for $30 or more for reasonable priced bottles, and way, way up if you are talking something more rare, and a group of nine might go through 2-3 bottles without missing a beat. Contrast, 2 beers, $7-10 each unless they are actually on top of their game and have something beyond the basic, even if well curated, choices. Sure, if everyone buys a couple brews, you get to roughly the same place, but my experience is that it is much more random than that, and often I will call it with one myself. So most high-end places put their money in the wine.

    I try to find places that focus on beer as an aspect of their business, i.e., there's a high-end burger-brew place near my office that I love to go to on special occasions. I know I'm not getting out cheap, but I also know there will be things on the beer menu I'll enjoy.
  25. MisSigsFan

    MisSigsFan Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2013 California

    A bit of an overreaction. You could've easily asked for a draft/bottle list or gone up to the bartender and asked him/her. It is pretty unprofessional that the waiter wouldn't know what they serve though.
  26. DrStiffington

    DrStiffington Grand Pooh-Bah (3,424) Oct 27, 2010 New Jersey

    Since this is basically craft beer site, ALL of the problems we discuss here are first world problems!
  27. bleakies

    bleakies Maven (1,319) Apr 11, 2011 Massachusetts

    But sweet spirits and dessert wines are served in comparatively small portions compared to most beer, which makes them seem less daunting on a close-to-full stomach.
  28. mrpeterandthepuffers

    mrpeterandthepuffers Pundit (801) Oct 24, 2014 Minnesota

    When I served we had to come in once a month to taste new wines and learn where they are from/pairings but we never did that with beer. It's just not the same with beer because in a night of waiting tables I maybe had two people order a beer. And likely one of them was a Mich Golden Light from a guy who doesn't know anything on the menu but chicken parm.

    If I'm going out to eat I'm ordering a cocktail or a bottle of wine unless I go somewhere known for beer. There are plenty of ways to find beer spots with great food. Search for your favorite brews on Untappd, check yelp, go to, etc.
  29. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado

    As I posted before, I don't expect to have to resort to this in an "upscale" restaurant. And oh yeah, I did ask a manager for more bread. It took 5 minutes to get to the table.
  30. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado

    Crabtree's Kittle House in Chappaqua.
  31. Gajo74

    Gajo74 Pooh-Bah (2,721) Sep 14, 2014 New York
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    Damn! Total dis! Seriously though, not trying to start up anything, but don't you think you are being a tad bit mean to the OP? If I read correctly, he did not walk out on his friends, in fact he stuck around. I think the OP is making a valid point of how many high end restaurants have not caught on to the craft beer world.
  32. Gajo74

    Gajo74 Pooh-Bah (2,721) Sep 14, 2014 New York
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    Ah, I see. I'm in the city, so I doubt I'll make it up there any time soon.
  33. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado

    Wasn't my choice to go there.
  34. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado

    I am an egocentric prick but where in any of my posts do I say I told them anything. And if this is the type of service you would expect in [once again] an "upscale" restaurant. Forget that. I guess you consider Chili's upscale.
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  35. gonzo000

    gonzo000 Initiate (0) Feb 9, 2014 Massachusetts

    I think you should have taken initiative and went to the bar for an update on the beer offerings, or asked the server to do so (in this case the former as the server seemed lackluster) - especially if the breweries listed on the taps were above average. If a server I have does not know what is in a dish, I ask the server to go to the kitchen and find out.
  36. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Grand Pooh-Bah (5,281) May 30, 2005 Michigan
    Pooh-Bah Society

    This underscores that until 5 or so years ago that many people thought that beer drinkers were second-class citizens, and they would treat you accordingly. It seems that your server has not learned about the 'renaissance' yet, and maybe even the management who should have trained him properly. (Although management must already know the craft beer trend if they have a nice list stuffed in the dessert corner.)
    BBThunderbolt and Gajo74 like this.
  37. BobJude

    BobJude Initiate (0) Jan 4, 2014 Wisconsin

    I find that unless I shave my neck beard before leaving my parents basement to visit such an establishment as described, I am treated as a second class citizen. I believe the wait staff are trained to spot BA's and piss on our craft beery-ness-ish.
  38. AugustusRex

    AugustusRex Initiate (0) Apr 12, 2013 Canada (ON)

    Sorry, I wasn't clear in what I meant. Of course beer shouldn't be saved for dessert, I am just saying that sweetish beers are difficult to pair with any main course, and they don't work as an aperitif either.

    Splitting a 250 mL bottle of Thomas Hardy after dinner between 2-3 people is great though.
  39. ChangSing

    ChangSing Zealot (640) May 5, 2013 Illinois

    Seems like an over-reaction to me to a mild annoyance. The problem is solved by walking over the the bar and asking the bartender for a beer list if it was that important, or ask the server if he can go get a list for you. It should have been offered, but having to ask yourself from either the server or the bartender isn't that big of a deal. Sounds like you still had a nice meal with a large group of friends. Is it worth that much that "you'll never go back again" and "that server should be fired immediately"? Maybe he just had a bad day. I'd hate to be fired the moment I make one mistake at my job.

    Personally, I think many customers have such unreasonable expectations for servers that anything less than absolutely 100% perfection means the whole meal and experience is ruined. Undoubtedly there are shitty servers and places out there, but if I have to walk to the bar once to get a beer list or wait an additional 10 minutes to close out my check after an hour and a half dinner, I'm not going to lose my mind over it.
    elkabong likes this.
  40. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Grand Pooh-Bah (4,030) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    I've never understood these reactions, in general, and not necessarily aimed at OP.

    On many levels, beer people are different than wine people. There's no need for high end restaurant servers to cater to you and your preferences. Beer people aren't a regular base of customers for nice restaurants, so you... you beer people who complain... you don't give nice restaurants any incentive (that counts) for having a good beer list, or educating servers in a like-mannered way that they are educated on wine. You're too busy at beer bars, sports bars, and other places that don't cater to people who spend more of beverages like wine and cocktails people do.

    Either change your spending patterns, or STFU. In many or most cases, it is NOT the restaurant's fault. People like you are not their core customer base.
    elkabong likes this.
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