Service standards in taprooms

Reads 1484 • Replies 21 • Started Friday, May 12, 2017 4:26:40 PM CT

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Stine
beers 1810 º places 259 º 16:26 Fri 5/12/2017

In my area, service levels in taprooms is pretty variable. It could be that at this point (in rapidly expanding beer metros such as mine) there are many more taproom server/bartender jobs than there are quality applicants to fill them.

General questions:

What defines a high quality service experience for you in a taproom environment?

What is the general level of service in taprooms in your area?

Do these questions matter more or less to you when the product quality is high?

 
slowrunner77
beers 17368 º places 500 º 16:36 Fri 5/12/2017

I probably wouldn’t put up with the practiced indifference at, say, Modern Times, if their beer wasn’t so damn good...then again...if they were as friendly as the people at Deschutes, they’d be my favorite brewery.
Some places give that dickish tattoo shop vibe (sorry to any cool tattoo artists out there - I know you exist) like you’re bothering them by asking for service, or take more than 2 seconds to order. Some places so much so that you wonder if putting out that vibe is purposeful. I definitely don’t care for that.
Some places are just too busy for the number beertenders they employ, or the ones they have are not adequately trained to deal with busy crowds. Hard to get excited to go to that kind of place, if you have other choices. I want a place to succeed, but not be a zoo all the time (or learn how to handle the crowds - lookin at you, Russian River).
Some places are slow because of poor design that can’t handle the crowds (the indoor bar at Alvarado St, for example). Too narrow, too crowded.
Ideally you want friendly service, fast service, AND great beer, but I do often overlook the first two for a certain extent to get the great beer.

 
after4ever
admin
beers 8025 º places 322 º 16:52 Fri 5/12/2017

What defines a high quality service experience for you in a taproom environment?
High-quality = no delay in noticing someone’s waiting to order, basic questions answered pleasantly, orders filled within a minute or two. I don’t need hustle, just common sense and common courtesy.
If they have time to shoot the breeze, tell me a story or the latest news, crack some jokes, that’s an awesome bonus.

What is the general level of service in taprooms in your area?
Relaxed but efficient from what I can see. Specialty bars have too many staff that is sullen and withdrawn, or opinionated to the point of surly cynicism.

My local is a few miles out of the city proper, and they always crack up when folks come up from in town and say "wow, you guys are so friendly and cheerful. This is quite a change of pace" or words to that effect.

Lots of beer places get that vibe they talk about with record store clerks in the movie High Fidelity where they think they’re the high priests of the subject matter, and their knowledge is the main reason they’re there. Sorry, dude. I’d rather talk to a nice person who knows how old the keg is. I’ll Google the other shit.

Do these questions matter more or less to you when the product quality is high?
For the right beer I’ll put up with almost anything short of felony assault from taproom staff. Fortunately the best breweries in this area have staff that ranges from quiet-but-prompt up to friendly and super-fast.

 
StefanSD
beers 2451 º places 57 º 17:39 Fri 5/12/2017

My only taproom complaints have been with inadequate staffing, and this is a management issue and not a hit on the server. One harried, stressed out server trying to do three things at once makes everyone feel ill at ease. Poor management, and poor leadership are more common than not.

 
DietPepsican
beers 1592 º places 63 º 18:09 Fri 5/12/2017

I don’t expect to find career service people around here. Most of them are artists or writers or whatever getting by in college. They serve from the wrong side, clear improperly, not know what’s on tap, etc. That being said, my area tends to be better than a lot of places I’ve visited in the country. For its size, I’d say it’s great.

I’m happy if my beer and water are kept full. If someone is actually keeping the tap list up to date that’s awesome. Less is more when it comes to interaction in general if I’m with another person.

As far as returning after poor service...nah. That’s a portion of the enjoyment. If it isn’t at least serviceable I’m going to be slightly annoyed and enjoy the beer less.

 
adamnowek
beers 5194 º places 118 º 18:19 Fri 5/12/2017

...water?

 
fly
beers 1490 º places 273 º 19:40 Fri 5/12/2017

I tend to go to the places I have previously enjoyed and find the servers to be generally very good at their job. Will add that some customers tend to be the problem - getting in line and not knowing what they want by the time they get to the bar or forming one line when there are multiple servers - two of them trying to wave people forward so they can served them. And the servers also tend to know their beers.
How widespread this is very likely limited as I have had bad service and ignorant comments on beers/brewing from some spots, but tend not to go back unless the beer is truly great.

Originally posted by Stine
In my area, service levels in taprooms is pretty variable. It could be that at this point (in rapidly expanding beer metros such as mine) there are many more taproom server/bartender jobs than there are quality applicants to fill them.

General questions:

What defines a high quality service experience for you in a taproom environment?

What is the general level of service in taprooms in your area?

Do these questions matter more or less to you when the product quality is high?
Excellent topic.

The best service I’ve received wasn’t in my town (Louisville) but in St. Louis at the Bridge Taphouse. The server was honest in his opinions about the tap selection; was able to compare beer available to others beers I’ve had, and vice versa; was friendly with my whole family, even the non-beer drinkers and of course prompt with water/beer refills, etc. That’s just about the gold standard for me.

Generally, servers in Louisville are friendly and prompt, but beer knowledge typically ends with "my favorite IPA is..." but that’s more of a craft beer wide issue (the IPA-zation of craft beer).

Good service enhances any beer experience, but can elevate a borderline place to a return trip for me.

 
Stine
beers 1810 º places 259 º 00:02 Sat 5/13/2017

Great thoughts so far. Just a quick clarification that I’m definitely keying in on brewery taprooms here, not bars/restaurants.

 
Stine
beers 1810 º places 259 º 10:44 Sat 5/13/2017

There’s not a lot of too-cool service at breweries around here, but it is common that taproom staff seem to not take their job seriously.

As an example, I visited one local place recently on a mid afternoon Saturday when my wife and I waited at the (empty) bar while the bartender ate a cheeseburger and channel surfed until he found the game he wanted to watch. Once finished he offered us a beer.

Now to me the issue is not with this bartender but with the fact that the brewery chose to employ someone who views their job primarily either as doing a favor for a friend, or as a fun way to earn some easy cash on the side. These work attitudes can also become non-issues if the brewery holds them accountable to give high quality service.

This particular place is striving to make great quality beer. They aren’t there yet, but they are really working towards it, and it’s admirable. I want the service to reflect the brewer’s respect for his craft and his product.

 
minutemat
beers 9288 º places 379 º 11:24 Sat 5/13/2017

Bars generally have a high staff turnover, so I understand (especially in larger busy bars) that the person serving me isn’t necessarily going to be knowledgeable. I’ll give them a bit of slack for service in general, but I do expect a specialist beer bar to have a bar manager to keep staff in check, make sure they’re not chatting & ignoring customers and be on hand to answer beer-related questions. If not then I interpret that as the bar owners not really giving a shit.

Thankfully in my closest beer city I know a couple of bars / pubs where the staff are passionate about what they serve and love to geek out with customers.