The Ten Commandments of Atmosphere
A good tap and bottle selection, including a range of styles and beers from low to high alcohol, is an absolute must. Throw in a couple of beer engines for style points.
Music is OK, but if is too loud for reasonable voice levels, there needs to be a “quiet room” for conversation.
Televisions should be kept to a minimum. There is a reason man invented the sports bar. One set in the corner for sports or news junkies is fine, big screens everywhere you look is not.
Décor should include subdued lighting. Dark woods add warmth.
Seating options are critical—at the bar, tables and even booths. A few snugs for privacy are a big plus. Outdoor patios during warm weather months are also nice.
Access to games enhances the experience. Darts, pool, shuffleboard, backgammon and board games encourage interaction among friends and strangers.
A local newspaper, a few current magazines and perhaps a beer book or two is a nice touch. They say relax and hang out.
Food. Let’s face it, if you are going to have a few beers, you should think about having something to eat. The better the food selection, the better the session.
An attentive, beer-smart staff makes a session enjoyable. Eye candy is not important, but a smile and a good attitude are key.
Clean bathrooms should not be too much to ask, especially if you want people to hang out for a few beers.
Rick Lyke is a native of upstate New York who has been writing about beer since 1980. He contributed to the recently released book 1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die.