4. Clean Lines: At Wynkoop they take clean lines seriously. Brewers get the two-three hour job twice a week to flush and clean the lines in the morning before the bar staff arrives to start to get ready for that first customer.
5. Appropriate Glassware: Glassware is one of those things that can be easily overlooked. The right glass, however, is essential to the perfect pint. And, please, avoid the places that frost mugs and give you one without asking. The low temperature ruins the taste of any craft beer, making it impossible to appreciate the flavors the brewer worked hard to produce. Frosting can also coat the glass with unintended flavors and smells picked up from the kitchen or refrigeration system.
6. Clean Glassware: A clean beer glass is critical, but just as important is a properly rinsed glass. Detergent residue will alter the flavor and aroma of a beer, plus it will rob the head from the beer quickly. The glass not only should look clean, it should be clean.
7. Beer Selection: “We go to the (Great American Beer Festival) every year and look at new beers and new styles to see what we should put on,” says Michael Parker, owner and Beertender at Opal Divine’s Freehouse in Austin, TX. Parker is proud of the fact that Opal Divine’s, which has 28 taps, was one of the first five bars in America to sell Chimay on draught and is the top seller of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in Texas. A good beer selection is more than numbers; it is all about either a range of styles or going deep into a particular category. A frustration for anyone looking for good beer is to find a bar with 10 taps that cover an uninspired range from domestic light beer to nationally available mass-produced lagers.
8. Stock Freshness and Rotation: “Slow movers don’t do anyone any favors,” Parker notes. “They just sit there and oxidize.” At Opal Divine’s he has limited the beer selection to 28 beers. A second location about to open will have 36 taps, even though there is room for many more. “No matter how many beers you have, there are always others you want to put on. We limit our selection on purpose,” he says.
9. Taps You Can Read: The Europeans have this beer-merchandising thing figured out. They put the beer engines and draught towers right out front for the world to see. My pet peeve about a good many great beer bars is that the taps are along a back wall that is not properly illuminated. You may never know that they have one of your favorites if the various handles are lined up along the length of the bar or in a couple of groupings in dimly lighted areas.