Etiquette when you get a bad beer at a bar?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by spambum, Dec 27, 2012.

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  1. spambum

    spambum Initiate (75) Apr 10, 2012 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    what do you do when you get flat beer that is from an old keg at a restaurant or bar?
    what is their reaction?
    for me it is pretty commmon to get flat beer from an old keg when getting the more uncommon craft beer on tap (ie st bernardus 12). i usually wont say anything and will just not order from their tap again. just wondering what the proper etiquette is.
  2. Oneinchaway

    Oneinchaway Initiate (122) Jun 12, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    If its I drinkable ill send it back. If not, I'll just let the waitress or bartender know. If you're at a beer bar they should want to hear those things. Had a Ten Fidy on tap a month ago that was infected and went sour, they were glad to hear it.
  3. Lutter

    Lutter Initiate (0) Jun 30, 2010 Texas

    Not a bad beer in particular, but I went to a bar a few months ago in Austin that had a few craft taps... Racer 5 among them...

    I take one sip and it's clear that the beer isn't right... it's clearly an amber with none of the hoppiness of an IPA. I tell the bartender that "this beer isn't Racer 5". He takes a sip and insists that it is... and won't replace it. Moments later the beer manager comes by and I bring it up with him... takes a swig and immediately goes over to another one of their taps: Austin Amber. He figures out that they accidentally swapped lines when replacing both the kegs that afternoon and replaces my glass.

    Apparently they'd served it to at least 20 other customers who hadn't said a word. Now they think Bear Republic makes mediocre Amber ales! lol.

    And people wonder why I hate craft beer being a trend. The majority of people don't even know iif what they're drinkin is an IPA! Talk about a placebo effect, lol.
    Jaredp, YogiBeer, jglowe77 and 4 others like this.
  4. MarioM

    MarioM Zealot (514) Sep 13, 2009 California

    Honestly, when I get a beer I don't like I just chug the dam thing, get it over with and buy another. To me its rude to give back a beer if I didn't like it. However if something is flat, funky of skunked then I would obviously let the bartender know since that means the batch has something fundamentally wrong.
  5. njhopspop

    njhopspop Initiate (0) Oct 17, 2010 New Jersey

    if it's a case where I simply don't care for the beer, I shut up and drink it. however, if it's a case like someone mentioned where the beer itself has turned or there is a tap mix up, then bringing it to their attention would be appropriate.
    Jimjohson, frazbri, SageO and 6 others like this.
  6. Azzy

    Azzy Initiate (0) Jul 16, 2012 Texas
    Beer Trader

    If the beer fits the style and I dont like its my fault. If the beer clearly tastes like shit when it should taste decent Ill say something and hope Ill get it replaced.
    RyanMM likes this.
  7. neverenoughhops

    neverenoughhops Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    if it's bad because it's infected, uncarbonated, too warm, incorrect or otherwise mishandled by the bar, i will send it back.

    it it's the correct beer and handled properly and i do not like it, i will try to enjoy some part of it but won't order it again.
    aasher likes this.
  8. marquis

    marquis Crusader (762) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    If it's faulty, a quiet word with the server and it will almost always be replaced and the beer taken off sale. If it's in a pub where samples are given on request ( quite frequently if I just ask "what's this like? I'm given a sample) I can't reasonably complain that I don't like it! If I haven't asked for a sample and it's perfectly sound but just not to my taste I have no grounds for rejection.Though there are places where it would be replaced free of charge. As one pub owner said "When you come here it is my job to make it a pleasant experience so what would you like instead?
  9. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poo-Bah (12,446) Mar 18, 2010 California

    Just send it back and explain why.
    YogiBeer likes this.
  10. Dennoman

    Dennoman Initiate (0) Aug 20, 2011 Belgium

    I pretty much always know the bartender personally, so I ask him/her to taste it and if they think something's off, they usually take it back themselves.
    mwar likes this.
  11. Darwin553

    Darwin553 Initiate (68) Jan 5, 2009 Australia

    From being on both sides of the bar, if I was ordering, I would drink it. No need to be fussy as, at the end of the day, it's only another beer - I like to think of it as fruit, if you get a bad piece of fruit, do you return that? :wink:

    When I've served beer, on the odd occasion I have served beer flat (mainly due to the glass being too warm rather than the keg or the gas itself) and I do, albeit begrudgingly, serve a fresh the expectation of a tip of course :grinning:
  12. Darwin553

    Darwin553 Initiate (68) Jan 5, 2009 Australia

    Somewhat true.

    In my experience, the beer is taken off sale but isn't replaced. Rather it is left there to sit for awhile and then put back on. Likewise, at the beginning of say an ale keg where it's quite lively because it hasn't been kept idle for long enough, it will also be taken off sale but put back on later.

    However, flat servings of ale is a rare commodity. Rather it's the lager ones that are guilty most and usually it's not down to the actual quality or age of the keg but usually the amount of gas or appropriateness of the glassware.

    For example, for glassware, unless you were an extremely skilful server, it is definitely unwise to serve a lager in a strict ale glass as 90% of the time it comes out flat due to the contour or shape of the glass not being all that conducive to lager.
  13. Schwantz

    Schwantz Initiate (0) Dec 16, 2012 Florida

    If I just don't like it that's on me... If its wrong/off/bad that's on them. .. If they won't recover from a bad serve I consider it short money well spent and they' are about to go the way of the dinosaur.
    merc7186 likes this.
  14. Reagan1984

    Reagan1984 Poo-Bah (2,161) May 15, 2008 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    First, as a few have correctly done, let's be sure to distinguish between a beer you don't like and a flawed/incorrect beer that is served... If you ordered it and just don't like it.. it's still yours. (that's off the table for me)

    However, when something is wrong... I respectfully disagree with this opinion. When a person heads out they will normally have 2-3 beers.. at about $5-$7 bucks a pop.... If there is a real flaw there is no real reason why I should waste 33%-50% of my beer enjoyment and money on spoiled beer? The implied contract is simple... I'll pay the bar the stated price for the stated beer in it's proper condition. I saw Ten Fidy above mentioned as having gone sour. That's not what that person ordered. Also someone mentioned ordering a Racer 5 and was servend an Amber. They didn't order that and the bar should replace them without question and apologize.

    At a Patriots game a kiosk was selling Harpoon IPA and Harpoon UFO (Hefe) I ordered an IPA which at a Pats game is close to $10.... The beer that poured from the IPA tap was clearly the Hefe..... The first employee protested at first, then the second person realized they had switched kegs inadvertantly. Why should I have accepted the Hefe?

    Six weeks ago at a local watering hole I ordered a second round of Greenflash IPA's for me and my buddy. Clearly two different beers are placed in front of us.. When I comment that the beer was not Greenflash the waitress immediatedly stated, "I'll bet you that it is!" I quitely and politely explained that it just wasn't the right beer.... She came back from the bar a moment later and admitted she picked up the wrong two beers. I should have paid for the Ocktoberfest she brought me? No way.

    There is no page in any Etiquette manual that says the consumer should accept the wrong or spoiled product. One man's opinion.

    Final note... Tips are earned based on service.. When superior service is received... superior tips are left. When someone give me an attitude that I should accept a spoiled or incorrect beer... They deserve and will receive a spoiled or incorrect tip. :wink::grinning:
  15. Derranged

    Derranged Devotee (484) Mar 7, 2010 New York

    I just drink it and shut up, funny tasting or not, wrong beer, etc. If its really that bad/undrinkable, I'll just leave it and order something else. Although I cannot recall a time when I ordered a beer at a bar that was a drainpour. It takes a lot for me to dump a beer even if it tastes bad.
    Jimjohson and albertq17 like this.
  16. aasher

    aasher Poo-Bah (2,662) Jan 27, 2010 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    Send that drink back and tell them that it isn't up to par. They promise you a certain level of quality and if they don't meet that standard then it is their burden to bear, whether it is their fault or not.
  17. marquis

    marquis Crusader (762) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    The main problem with the beer I drink is really tied in with the nature of cask ale.It reaches a peak a day or two after it's started , hold for a little while and a couple of days later it starts to deteriorate. Though still drinkable it's a little tired and sometimes flat , then it acquires a sharp edge after which it's vinegar.It requires a little judgement as to whether or not accept it when just below par.Usually the problem lies with the turnover in the pub; a less popular choice hangs around, slacker than expected trade or too many beers on offer.Just occasionally of course there is a faulty or infected cask ; that goes back to the brewery for exchange.
    I was once in a pub where there was a local bitter on pump.To those of us who knew the beer it wasn't quite as expected; customers who didn't know the beer were quite happy with it. As it happened, the brewer was in the vicinity , he came round and had a sample.Immediately he had the beer taken off, the customers were given fresh pints and the cask was replaced.As he said-"My brewery's only as good as your last pint"
  18. tendermorsel

    tendermorsel Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2006 Massachusetts

    If I get a bad beer I spit in the glass and throw it in waiters/bartenders face while screaming at them.
  19. Hanzo

    Hanzo Initiate (0) Feb 27, 2012 Virginia

    This is pretty much where I stand. If it is bad enough where I can't drink it (and that has to be pretty bad) it will just sit on the table untouched. If you have a good waiter/waitress they will ask you if something is wrong when you don't touch your beer you just ordered and tried. When they ask I will tell them, they usually offer to replace the beer.
  20. nogophers

    nogophers Aspirant (257) Jun 28, 2011 Minnesota

    Had this happen last week at the Rock Bottom in the Minneapolis airport. It was 11:00 A.M., so my pour of Boulder's Hazed & Infused was probably the first of the day. I'm guessing the bartender didn't bother clearing the lines a little before pouring my beer. I sent it back and had them give me the Rock Bottom IPA. No argument.
  21. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,526) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    I just tell the bar keep the beer is off, and they simply replace it, it's not on them, and I've never had a problem. They work for tips and they want you to leave happy. Why should anyone drink a beer that's off? Your not hurting anyone's feelings, and maybe the bar manager should look into it.
  22. winbassett

    winbassett Initiate (0) Sep 10, 2010 North Carolina

    If the beer is flawed due to any part of the three-tier chain (supplier (brewery), wholesaler, or retailer (bar)), I send it back politely and explain the problem (and hope they'll stop serving it to others). I don't expect to pay for it, and I order another beer.

    If I simply don't like it, I'll send it back (pay for it) and order a different beer.
  23. Darwin553

    Darwin553 Initiate (68) Jan 5, 2009 Australia

    I agree. This is why I am obliged, if I'm behind the bar, to pour you another one free of charge.

    However, as a drinker and it looks like I'm in the minority, I don't usually enforce that contract :wink:
    Reagan1984 likes this.
  24. richardflyr

    richardflyr Aspirant (227) Jul 28, 2009 Connecticut
    Beer Trader

    I was at a bar last week with a friend, waiting for a pizza. We each ordered a Sam Adams Winter Lager. One sip from each of us into our glasses, and we just looked at each other - nasty. We had the guy take it back and got some Jameson instead. No big deal! If it isn't good, just speak up. Bartenders and servers aren't mind readers.
  25. Darwin553

    Darwin553 Initiate (68) Jan 5, 2009 Australia

    Actually where I worked every miss pour, flat pour or breakage was written into a book and at the end of say a month it was added up and then its total cost was divided amongst the bar workers and usually taken off our wages. So it was crucial to get every pour right.
  26. szmnnl99

    szmnnl99 Crusader (727) Apr 3, 2006 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    So if one bartender makes 80% of the mistakes, everyone pays?
  27. merc7186

    merc7186 Initiate (0) Dec 5, 2010 New York

    I always feel that if I ordered a beer and I didnt like it, then thats on me...I made my bed and I need to lie in it. If its horrible, then I just dont drink it and move on to the next.

    On the other hand, if I order a beer and it is definitely bad or flat, then I send it back for a different selection. If they refuse to replace it, then thats fine too...the tip just goes down the cost of the beer.

    I had an instance that was classic douchebaggery from an establishment:

    My buddy and I were meeting two guys out at Colter Bay in Buffalo NY...this place has about 30 taps but they are pretty much faux craft or beginner craft beers. So I ordered a beer that I have plenty of times, the bartender pours it and places it in front of me....before it even hits the bar, I tell him instantly that the beer is flat as it didnt even have a single bubble of head. He puts the beer down, tells me Thats the way the beer is and walks away. I sipped it and let two other people try it, both agree that the beer is not only flat but was just off too. I flag the bartender down and tell him again that the beer is flat and off...he takes the glass, dumps it into the sink and pours me another of the same flat off beer. Surprised that actually happened, I asked him for a different selection and left the flat beer sit there. He pours me the new selection then snatched some of the money sitting in front of me to charge me for two beers, the back up flat one and the new selection. Needless to say, the pile of cash that built up in front of us for tip money got pulled back and we left.
    nogophers likes this.
  28. marquis

    marquis Crusader (762) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    Don't joke about it! Many years ago somebody was served a very bad pint and complained to the landlord.He replied "There's nothing wrong with it" to which the customer replied "Then you can have it" and poured it over the landlord's head.To much applause it has to be said!
    Jimjohson and DStoked like this.
  29. mocktm

    mocktm Devotee (441) Jan 3, 2011 Virginia
    Beer Trader

    Pretty sure that's illegal; you might want to contact your local dept of labor. It's just considered a cost of doing business.
  30. davey101

    davey101 Meyvn (1,080) Apr 14, 2009 Connecticut
    Beer Trader

    Chug chug chug chug!
  31. RyanMM

    RyanMM Initiate (169) Mar 12, 2009 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    The markup on food, beer, and wine at a restaurant is to guarantee that whatever they serve should fit my expectations perfectly. If the food comes out cold and rancid, you send that shit back.

    Same with beer. If they can't keep their tap lines clean and keep their kegs rotating frequently, it's their own fault.
    kscaldef and DStoked like this.
  32. gkatsoris

    gkatsoris Initiate (0) Jun 27, 2007

    What's a bar?
    Jimjohson likes this.
  33. tendermorsel

    tendermorsel Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2006 Massachusetts

    Haha... You brits are supposed to be the civilized ones too!!

    Clearly I was joking. I have boycotted a local bar here in Boston for consistantly serving shitty off beer from dirty taps. 3 trips in a row I had to send beers back cause they were gross. I will not buy a beer from that place again. The thing is that it is a very popular craft place with 100+ taps and 300+ bottles. I figure if you advertise yourself as "craft" place and charge premium prices the minimum expectation is that you clean your freaking lines consistantly.
    3 strikes your are out in Tender's world.
    RyanMM likes this.
  34. cubbyswans

    cubbyswans Aspirant (238) Jun 10, 2008 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    What about issues beyond the bartender's control? A bartender can't control a soured Ten Fidy. A bartender can't control a keg that is flat because the pressure has been set too low on the beer. A bartender can't control if the lines got switched and the beer that comes out is an Amber from brewery X instead of an IPA from brewery Z...

    Were bartenders getting charged for things beyond their control? I find it hard to believe anyone would work at an establishment, for very long, that did this.
  35. Stormfield

    Stormfield Initiate (171) Feb 21, 2011 Massachusetts

    No matter what you do, just be polite about it. That settles things MOST of the time. can smash the glass, still full of beer, at the foot of the server, calling him/her a fucking idiot. Then, storm out of the establishment, twin middle fingers at full arm-extension, vowing to return only when they get their shit together. Try that.
    Winston_Smith likes this.
  36. salzar

    salzar Initiate (0) Dec 27, 2008 California

    And food spoils beyond the control of the chef, so we should just eat the rotten food cause it was served to us and be grateful.
    RyanMM likes this.
  37. marcgo2

    marcgo2 Initiate (74) Nov 16, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    I'm usually at bars with at least 1 borderline alcoholic friend, so I'll give it too them for free.
  38. DStoked

    DStoked Initiate (153) Sep 28, 2011 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    Actually, about 6 months ago I got a bad grapefruit...I wrote to Sunkist and complained (jokingly) and they sent me a stack of coupons.
    Jimjohson likes this.
  39. Frankinstiener

    Frankinstiener Aspirant (233) Jul 28, 2009 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    I go to bars a lot and have never had this happen.
  40. mhksuccess

    mhksuccess Zealot (585) Jul 7, 2012 California
    Beer Trader

    A couple of years ago i was always frequenting this bar and bringing in new customers and return customers with me. They rotate there taps and a couple times I had gotten a beer that I didnt care for which I just drank but was not happy with it, my fault for ordering. So, after having been in probably 25 or more times I ask the regular bartender (whom I have brought beer which I gave him to take home) if I could try a 1oz taste of this beer before I order it. I was interest but didnt want to make a mistake so he tells me " I can buy for I think it was $2" after that I have never went back. I go to this new bar now where they rotate 70+ taps and are happy to let you try something so you should never have this issue. Of course I dont abuse the priveledge but if I am interested in ordering I will try a sample first. Also one time at this new bar I got a Pliny that didnt taste right they notified the manager and took it off my bill. This is the customer service you should get when going to a bar the first time or the 20th time.
    rlcoffey, Reagan1984 and RyanMM like this.
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