10. The Pour: The right pour can bring out the best in a pint. The perfect pour—for most beers—starts with the glass at a 45 degree angle (preserving CO2 in the beer), then ends with the glass upright (generating a nice head). At Monk’s, they use flow restrictors on each tap and train the bartenders on pouring techniques. It cuts down on the dumping of beer caused by foaming, which Peters says is “A disservice to the beer and the bar owner.”
11. Knowledgeable Staff: At Wynkoop, the bartenders “work their way up. It is at least a year before they even hope to set foot behind the bar,” says Stengaard. “Their knowledge of beer has to be a cut above the average bartender.” To get there, staff at the Wynkoop take classes about beer while they are servers and tour the brewhouse with one of the brewers. Once they become a bartender, the training does not stop. Monthly sessions feature a range of topics, including matching beer with food. At Opal Divine’s they also have a training program, but Parker notes “We just seem to hire a lot of beer geeks.”
12. Friendly and Enthusiastic Staff: At the Flying Saucer, Judy regularly has staff contests to move certain beers and to encourage experimentation. This also keeps the staff interested and upbeat about new beers. The prizes don’t have to be big: a t-shirt or a small tab for the waiter or bartender. “It helps us move something if it is slow or to get customers to try something new and exciting we’ve just brought in.”
13. A Chance for a Taste: When most of us walk into a bar with a selection of beers we may have never had or not tried in quite sometime, the immediate concern is how to not make a mistake in picking a pint. Some Beertenders will give you a quick one or two once sample to see if the beer is worthy. Others, like at the Flying Saucer, have several pre-packaged flights that offer a range of styles. At Monk’s, where some 30-liter kegs cost the bar $220-$250 each, they pull a 5-ounce sample for $2.
14. Information, Please: At the Flying Saucer, customers can make use of a computer terminal, used by members of the U.F.O Club to track the beers they have consumed, to get tasting notes on individual beers before they buy. Other bars have beer lists that are arranged by style.
15. Give Me a Little Variety: At the Toronado in San Francisco, owner and Beertender David Keene keeps an ever-changing array of beers flowing from 53 taps. During February, the Toronado has a legendary barley wine festival with 53 of the strong brews on tap. In April, it’s Belgian beer. July features American draughts. In December, Christmas ales make their appearance. “We rotate a fair amount of the draught selection,” Keene says. “If there is something new or interesting, we like to put it on.”
16. Give Me My Favorite Beer: Even at the Toronado, they know there are certain beers that regulars demand. That’s why you’ll always find Big Daddy IPA (named after Keene), Guinness Stout, Spaten Franziskaner and Two Rivers Cider on tap. A few well know, well made brews can be just the kind of security blanket we all occasionally need.
17. Ambiance: A great draught is always nicer in a comfortable setting. A Beertender won’t blast the music and they are more likely to have a clean comfortable place for customers to gather. Breweriana is a nice, but not necessary touch.
18. A Warm Welcome: Beertenders are in a service business that is more personal than most service industries. A warm welcome and a check back at just the right time to replenish a pint is a true measure of the individual you need to trust to deliver that perfect pint.