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. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,305) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Cubbyswans' post (in reply to darwin553's) is not arguing that customers should accept bad beer, only that bartenders should not be forced to pay for it by their employers.

    Apparently not in Australia (see Darwin553's profile).
  2. MooseBoose

    MooseBoose Zealot (533) Jun 6, 2007 Wisconsin

    I got a bottle of HopDevil at a local establishment a couple of weeks back (a really good craft bar BTW), and the best by date was April 30th, 2012. It tasted pretty crappy and not like HopDevil I know, but I just drank it and complained to my buddies instead. :slight_smile: One of them said I should complain and ask for a new beer, the other said I should tell them just so they know they have some really old stock in there, but I didn't say anything and just drank it. Which was the right thing to do in this situation?

    I really like the bar and this is my first time getting a really old beer like this so it is not a pattern here.
  3. RockAZ

    RockAZ Disciple (371) Jan 6, 2009 Arizona
    Beer Trader

    This is a hard question, but in my experience Politeness has to be the first response, and saying something polite is better than remaining quiet in the rare circumstances where the beer is "off", something not right with the lines or the keg or the glassware.

    Its not my part to "fix" a beer problem in a bar, and the few times I have mentioned a situation to a server I usually tell them I have a cold or allergies or something that makes me think that beer just isn't like what I was expecting. If I ordered something strange without a taster before, I will insist they leave it on the bill even if I don't like it and stopped drinking it or sent it back after a few sips and leave that amount on top of the tip if they take it off anyway.

    But there is a special kind of hell that I give the managers who suckered me into trying a "faux" craft beer, some A-B nonsense with a catchy name and slick advertising on the walls.
  4. kdb150

    kdb150 Devotee (485) Mar 8, 2012 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Etiquette is to say something. In my experience, it is probably the best gauge of an establishment to see how they react when you inform them a beer is off.

    Staff at a good beer bar will know the product that is on tap, and be able to respond properly to your complaint. I once complained that the beer they gave me when I ordered a bourbon barrel winter warmer didn't have any bourbon or oak character to it. Their response was to bring me the same thing, and when I repeated my complaint, the head guy behind the bar sipped it and told me "bourbon barrel aged beers don't have any bourbon flavor."


    Had the staff known beer and known the product, they likely would have been aware that the beer wasn't quite right. Or at least had an answer that made sense, like that they cellared the keg for a while and it lost the barrel character, or something plausible. Needless to say, I don't go to that bar any more.
  5. marquis

    marquis Crusader (744) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    The horrible thing about this pub was it had a reputation for bad beer.The story went round that a cask of pickling vinegar was tapped by mistake and nobody noticed! Yet people still patronised the place.There's no accounting for human nature.
    Regarding the bar you mention, the more beers you sell the more difficult it is to keep tabs on each and every one.The best pubs here clean the lines regularly on a schedule, say every Thursday morning.It involves pouring off many pints of perfectly good beer so there's a cost involved.I'm always suggesting they use the drawn off beer for cooking!
    gkatsoris likes this.
  6. imthaschmidt

    imthaschmidt Initiate (0) Nov 9, 2012

    if im at a tap house or somewhere were they appreciate beer, i will speak up and see if anything is wrong, if im at a regular restraunt, i will just drink the rest of it and not order another one.
  7. brewsader

    brewsader Initiate (0) Dec 7, 2012 New York
    Beer Trader

    if a beer is infected, the bartender might not be at fault, but they'd certainly want to stop serving that beer. at the bar i work at, we had an infected keg, so we capped the faucet and cleaned the line ASAP before putting something else up. since we don't taste every beer on its way to the customer, we rely on people to tell us something's wrong with the beer, so criticism is more than welcome. any bar worth going to would expect the same, just so they can avoid serving crappy beer to people.

    something as simple as a tap mix-up is really easy to solve (just swap the tap handles), and if i was bartending at a place where the taps were mixed up and i told the customer it was fine only to be proven wrong, i wouldn't expect a tip.
  8. tendermorsel

    tendermorsel Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2006 Massachusetts

    Pickling vinegar? WTF? I didn't know that even came in casks. haha.

    This place in Boston sucks. They know they have dirty taps and just don't care. I am frim believer that if you have 100 taps your place is gonna suck. You just cannot keep them all clean consistantly. It gets good ratings on BA too by the way.
  9. Siggy125

    Siggy125 Devotee (457) Nov 10, 2006 California
    Beer Trader

    If I'm still sober and can tell the difference, I would definitely send it back. For my benefit and for theirs.
    frazbri likes this.
  10. CommanderOfAwesome

    CommanderOfAwesome Devotee (468) Aug 30, 2012 California

    Had a Hangar 24 porter on Cask at a pizza/craft beer bar in SD. The beer was terrible and everyone at my table agreed it was a bad beer. The one and only time I've sent a beer back.
  11. skcusab

    skcusab Initiate (0) Dec 28, 2012

    Depend on the establishment and how often I frequent the establishment. Since I normally drink beers from local breweries or the local area, I rarely have this issue. But in the few instances I have encountered this issues, I have been at place I frequent often so I did mention it to the bartender who either poured me a new one or another beer.
  12. SammyJaxxxx

    SammyJaxxxx Poo-Bah (1,807) Feb 23, 2012 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Were they sipping from your glass?
  13. SammyJaxxxx

    SammyJaxxxx Poo-Bah (1,807) Feb 23, 2012 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    You need to frequent better bars.
  14. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    Send it back, get it taken off the bill, and if they are a responsible establishment, they will take it out of stock.
  15. avenuepub

    avenuepub Initiate (0) Apr 23, 2009 Louisiana

    If ythere is something wrong with the beer ( not just a case of you not liking it)

    DO: say something politely to the server/bartender. " this beer tastes off, I love XYZ beer and drink it all the time but something's not right with this one, is this beer supposed to be " still" of have very low carbonation, etc all bars get kegs that are bad. We get them...much more regularly that you might expect so if you don't tell us we won't know. Sure, we taste all the fancy new kegs we put on draft and we try to cover any unexpected suprises like Belgian funk , low carbonation etc in the descriptions but we don't taste a bit of every NOLA Blonde or Stone IPA that we tap so if the line has been swapped by accident , or the keg was mislabeled, or the keg was heat exposed, or there is an infection ( there is a list a mile long of things that can damage the flavor profile) we won't know unless someone tells us it's not right.

    DON'T: overdisgnose the issue or be rude. In particular a bar that cleans their lines and maintains proper procedure will be insulted if you say something like" I think your lines need to be cleaned". Just letting them know there is something not right is enough.
    frazbri likes this.
  16. socon67

    socon67 Poo-Bah (1,648) Jun 18, 2010 New York

    I'm not getting how the ettiquette for craft beer would be any different than the ettiquette for other food and drink items you order. If you were at a restaurant and ordered a steak, it is acceptable to say something if the steak;
    * Was prepared different than what you asked (rare instead of medium well)
    * Had an unpleasant taste that indicated soemthing was wrong with it
    * Was not the food you ordered

    The same should go with a pour of beer. Finding out after you had a sip that you just don't like that particular beer is a customer service issue.
    Reagan1984 and SunDevilBeer like this.
  17. taez555

    taez555 Poo-Bah (1,588) Dec 9, 2002 Massachusetts

    I'm surprised this thread is so long. You guys all must be going to the wrong beer bar.

    Can't say I've ever gotten an undrinkable or completely wrong beer in all my days. Any off flavors are usually due more to the establishment and poor upkeep of the lines than anything else, and those are the places I simply don't frequent. If it's the wrong beer, i'st usually the server at a table when I'm with a group of people and they place the wrong beer in front of the wrong person. But that's just a quick sip to double check and then switch between friends.
  18. Jimjohson

    Jimjohson Initiate (0) Dec 26, 2012 Georgia

    when I was a kid my grandmother bought a six pack of diet rite got home and noticed no printing on the caps. writes a letter and forgets about it about 6 weeks later a truck pulls up out front and delivers a case of diet rite
  19. YogiBeer

    YogiBeer Initiate (0) May 10, 2012 Illinois

    Thanks for the advice. Will use in the future.
  20. danedelman

    danedelman Initiate (0) Apr 3, 2011 Pennsylvania

    I had a Brown Sugga the other night at a bar and it was horrible. Since it was my first one and haven't tried it before I wasn't sure if it was the beer or the lines or something else. I drank it but reminded me like dumping a bud into a crappy brown ale an a shot of bourbon.

    I won't be seeking that brew out again.
  21. EnronCFO

    EnronCFO Zealot (502) Mar 29, 2007 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Agreed. "You think you're better than me? I was drinking craft beer when you were still sucking your mother's dick!"
  22. EnronCFO

    EnronCFO Zealot (502) Mar 29, 2007 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    I've had bad pours/beers at the Portsmouth Brewery, Lord Hobo, Amesbury Ale House, Track 84, etc. All great beer bars that generally take care of their beers and tap lines. It can happen anywhere.
  23. pvllbum

    pvllbum Initiate (0) Sep 4, 2007 Illinois

    I just have some random thoughts from working in a craft beer bar. We have 40 beers on tap and probably 32 are rotating and I have not had one complaint about an off beer since i started there in June. We clean our lines once a week and sanitation is pounded into everyone's head.

    I find I get a lot more not so much complaints but tips of the trade if you will from the newb or wanna be craft beer drinkers...the people that drink blue moon. I've served someone an IPA and they told me there's too much hops in the beer. I've gotten "this beer tastes like bourbon" from a widmer brothers barrel aged brrrbon. Some people lol
  24. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,305) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Gotta think positive with a situation like this. You know how the wait staff apparently hovers right behind you, waiting for you to fill your mouth with beer or food before they come over and ask, "How's everything over here?"

    And normally you just nod "Yes" as you think to yourself, "WHY do they always do that?"

    Well, now you've got something to tell them - or, at worst, shake your head "No" instead of nodding.
  25. Darwin553

    Darwin553 Initiate (67) Jan 5, 2009 Australia

    I should qualify a few things.

    Firstly, this was in the UK not Australia. From what I know and I haven't worked behind the bar in Australia, but to force servers to pay for their mistakes would be illegal.

    Secondly, what actually occured is an auditor of some description would go through the receipts for a period taking into account what we had written in the book then check that against the quantity of stock and whether what we sold matches up. Any discrepancy there we had to pay amongst ourselves.

    Lucky for me I had started part way through a period so wasn't responsible for the end bill. Then I had left before the next one was to be assessed and due.

    But the bar workers who were responsible, would usually cover themselves by short pouring or overcharging on bills, as you see as long as the receipts minus what was in the book was greater than the total value of the stock sold, no one gave a ****.
  26. WagonCircler

    WagonCircler Initiate (131) May 15, 2011 New York
    Beer Trader

    If something is wrong with the beer, send it back. If you dont like it, but thats how it is supposed to taste, pound it or pour it.
  27. RyanMM

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

    I hope you brought that up with management. The only worse thing than consistent problems is when staff is never made aware of them.
  28. mildlybitter75

    mildlybitter75 Initiate (0) Aug 17, 2009 Pennsylvania

    If it's something I never had before I'll ask for a sample, if it's something I'm familiar with I usually don't have a problem. Only once in the last year have I sent back a beer, when I went to a new local brew pub and I ordered what was suppose to be a Belgian style wit which tasted like Coors light. They sent over some wannabe beer guru they had working as a waiter and I explained to him that this is not a unfiltered Wit, it was crsytal clear and tasted like a very light Lager. He didn't argue and offered me another selection that was just as bad, then another that was drinkable. I thought my palate might of been off that day, but clearly this place just sucked and I never been back there since.
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