The Science Of Being Served

There was an interesting little item in this month’s issue of Playboy, in the Raw Data section, that mentioned a “study of behaviors that get you served first in a crowded bar.” They found “that people standing square to the bar were served within 35 seconds 95% of the time.” Anyone have a read on how accurate that is, or whether you’ve noticed that it works? They also claimed that “eye contact was essential 86% of the time,” which makes some intuitive sense, at least.


Sierra Nevada’s Berkeley “Torpedo Room” To Open In November

Sierra Nevada earlier this year announced they’d be opening in taproom in Berkeley. The new taproom, to be called “The Torpedo Room,” is apparently on track to open this November.


From the press release:

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is targeting early November to open its Berkeley, Calif., space, coined the Torpedo Room. The intimate venue—whose name is inspired by the brewery’s innovative dry-hopping device, the Hop Torpedo—fits into a mixed-use building on Fourth Street between University Avenue and Addison Street. The Torpedo Room can host approximately 45 craft beer drinkers for educational tastings of unique and limited Sierra Nevada beers, as well as the occasional craft-centric event dedicated to beer science.

“Our brewers develop creative, flavorful beers at an impressive pace,” said Ken Grossman, Sierra Nevada’s founder. “They’re usually small batches, and it’s those beers folks will find in the Torpedo Room. We think it’s exciting—using rare offerings to showcase who we are and to talk about the science behind our beers. We really hope visitors take part in the dialogue.”

The Torpedo Room will feature 16 taps, and draught beer will be served in taster flights. Guests will also have the option of filling growlers to go, as well as purchasing six-packs, cases and individual specialty bottles. Light snacks will accompany beer flights, but there is not a full menu.

“West Berkeley fosters a great, progressive culture,” Grossman said, “and that includes a lot of ambitious food and drink. We’re eager to be part of the Bay Area craft scene while still staying close to our home base in Chico.”

Here’s what the building looks like now.


And these are artist’s renderings of what it will look like when the build-out is complete, from the outside.


And here’s what the interior is expected to look like.


Great American Beer Bar Favorites Chosen

GABB2013_logo, the consumer website for the Brewers Association released today the results of an online poll that took place in the last half of August. Here’s how they arrived at the 2013 Great American Beer Bar Selected by Readers. “ asked readers to nominate their favorite craft beer bars in the country, and received over 5,000 nominations, a 117 percent increase from last year. The choices were then narrowed down to the 10 most nominated bars in each of the five regions of the country. Over 37,000 votes were cast in total, a 23 percent increase from last year, resulting in the top three overall and regional winners. Voting was conducted from August 19 until August 30.” I’ve never been to any of the top three, so I guess I’ve got some travel plans to make.


The overall winners were roughly on the eastern half of the country.

  1. Mekong Restaurant, Richmond, VA
  2. HopCat, Grand Rapids, MI
  3. Cloverleaf Tavern, Caldwell, NJ

The Pacific (west coast) winners are as follows:

  1. The Bier Stein, Eugene, OR
  2. Toronado, San Francisco, CA
  3. Prospectors Historic Pizzeria & Alehouse, Denali National Park, AK

Great to see the Toronado making the list.

Beer Menus Infographic

Today’s infographic is the result of an interesting survey asking people about their preferences on Beer Menus. It was created by the North Carolina beer blog Wort & Yeast in early 2012. It may not be entirely scientific, but the results are interesting nonetheless. The majority of people taking the survey prefer their beer menu on paper and organized by style, and the most common complaint is that they’re too often out-of-date.

Click here to see the infographic full size.

Beer Birthday: Tom Peters

My good friend Tom Peters, one of the owners of Monk’s Cafe and Belgian Beer Emporium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, turns 60 today. His enthusiasm for and promotion of Belgian beer has few equals. And he throws perhaps the best late night parties of anyone I’ve ever known. Join me in wishing Tom a very happy birthday.

Tom Peters with Dave Keene, owners of the best two Belgian beer bars on both coasts.

Shaun O’Sullivan from 21st Amendment, Fergie Carey, co-owner of Monk’s, Lucy Saunders, the beer cook, and Tom Peters.

Tom Peters, with Rob Tod from Allagash in Portland, Maine, at GABF.

Me and Tom Peters
Me and Tom after the Great Lambic Summit at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology & Anthropology during last year’s Philly Beer Week.

The Beer Belly Of America, Part 3

Today’s infographic is part three of three, created by Floating Sheep in 2010, using data collected in 2008. It’s from a post entitled the Beer Belly of America. The third map shows a more normalized version of yesterday’s map, showing the “relative mentions of bars in the Google Maps directory,” which was accomplished using the average number of bar mentions.

Click here to see the map full size.

The Beer Belly Of America, Part 2

Today’s infographic is part two of three, created by Floating Sheep in 2010, using data collected in 2008. It’s from a post entitled the Beer Belly of America. The second map shows the “absolute mentions of bars in Google Maps directory.” Essentially it shows the location of every bar in America, and where the concentration of them is throughout the country.

Click here to see the map full size.

The Geography Of Bars

Today’s infographic comes from an Atlantic article on The Geography of Bars and Restaurants. The map uses data from the 2012 census and county business patterns. According to their data, New Orleans has the most bars per households, and San Francisco ranked 8th, with 6 bars for every 10,000 people. It’s also hard to see because the map is relatively small, but there’s a high-density bar area in Northern California in what I believe is Mendocino County.

And while I was mostly interested in the bars, the restaurant data is quite interesting, as well. San Francisco ranked #1 for restaurants per household, with 39.3 per 10,000 residents. That’s roughly one restaurant for every 255 persons.

Click here to see the map full size (and sorry that’s as big as it gets).

America’s Geographic Beer Belly

Here’s another interesting set of data from the curiously named Floating Sheep, this one regarding The Beer Belly of America. Essentially, what they did was “a simple comparison between grocery stores and bars.” They anticipated that they’d find more grocery stores than bars, and that did prove to be true. But they were surprised to find what they termed the “‘beer belly of America’ peeking out through the ‘t-shirt of data.’”
In this chart, the size of the green symbols represents the number of mentions of bars in the Google Maps directory. To see it full size, click here. Chicago, Illnois had the highest number.

In the chart below, yellow dots are area where they found more mentions of grocery stores and the red dots indicate where they found more bars. And while there are red dots … well, dotting the whole nation, there does seem to be a definite concentration of red from Wisconsin/Illinois west to Idaho. That’s the area they refer to as The Beer Belly of America.
To see it full size, click here.

They also compiled a list of each state and the number of bars per 10,000 people. I don’t know what it means that the top seven states were all within the The Beer Belly of America.

  1. North Dakota 6.54
  2. Montana 6.34
  3. Wisconsin 5.88
  4. South Dakota 4.73
  5. Iowa 3.73
  6. Nebraska 3.68
  7. Wyoming 3.4

I’m also not convinced that this type of per capita statistics are that useful. Because of economies of scale, it seems that states with less people always do better in per capita comparisons. The same thing happened when looking at per capita brewery distribution by state, with perhaps the exception of Oregon.

The final chart is similar to the first, but shows the number of bars “normalized” based on the average number of mentions for all locations. That means that where you see color are the places where there were mentions of bars exceeding the average. In this view, it’s easier to see where there are more bars, or at least more Google Maps mentions of them.
To see it full size, click here.

The Personality Of Pint Glasses

The Walkabout pub chain, consisting of fifty Australian-themed bars in Great Britain, hired psychologist Dr. Glenn Wilson to research the drinking habits of their patrons. While I’d never heard of him (hardly a measure of fame), he’s apparently “best known for his work on attitude and personality measurement, sexual attraction, deviation and dysfunction, partner compatibility, and psychology applied to performing arts. In 2001, Wilson was ranked among the 10 most frequently cited British psychologists in scientific journals.”

For the project, Wilson observed 500 people drinking in a pub, and specifically the way they held their glass, and from that “divided them into eight personality types.” Despite his apparent credentials and success in his field, the study hardly seems scientific. It was done at the behest of a pub chain, most likely to create publicity, which it’s no doubt dones as it’s been covered by the BBC, the Daily Mail and the Telegraph.

Dr Wilson said: “The simple act of holding a drink displays a lot more about us than we realise – or might want to divulge.

“When Hillary Clinton was on the campaign trail in the US, commentators picked up on the fact that she used her left hand to raise a pint, even though she’s right-handed.

“She might just have been posing for a shot but some people suggested that it was an insincere gesture.

“The next time you’re in a bar, it might be worth thinking about what you’re saying to the people around you just by the way you’re holding your glass.”

So it’s a little silly, and not exactly well-settled, peer-reviewed, tested science despite being done by a psychologist of good repute. Still, it’s not without interest. Below are the eight personality types and how each are described.


The Pint Glass Personality Types

  1. The Jack the Lad
  2. The Brow Beater
  3. The Ice Queen
  4. The Gossip
  5. The Wallflower
  6. The Flirt
  7. The Fun Lover
  8. The Playboy

1. The Jack the Lad: This “peacock” is conscious of his image and will drink a bottled beer, or cider. Inclined to be confident and arrogant, he can be territorial in his gestures, spreading himself over as much space as possible, for example, pushing the glass well away from himself and leaning back in his chair. If he’s drinking with his mates, he would be unlikely to welcome approaches from outside the group, unless sycophantic and ego-enhancing.

Celebrities: Peter Andre, David Cameron, Jason Statham. The “ladette” (e.g. Lily Allen) is a female approximation to this male archetype.

2. The Browbeater: This rather pugnacious type is again mostly male. He prefers large glasses, or bottles, which he uses as symbolic weapons, firmly grasped, and gesticulating in a threatening, “in the face” kind of way. Something of a know-it-all, he comes across as slightly hostile, even if only through verbal argument, or jokes targeted at others. He should be approached with great care, or not at all.

Celebrities: John Prescott, Russell Crowe (with Naomi Campbell as a female equivalent), Gordon Brown.

3. The Ice Queen: This is a mainly female type whose natural style is cold and defensive. She drinks from a wine glass, or a short glass, which is held firmly in a barrier position across the body so as to deter intimate approaches. It is usually a waste of time approaching this woman; she may be ready with a castrating put-down.

Celebrities: Victoria Beckham, Debra Barr (from The Apprentice)

4. The Gossip: This (mainly female) drinker tends to cluster in all-female groups talking about other people, and can be critical. She holds a wine glass by the bowl and uses it to gesticulate and make points in conversation. She is inclined to lean over her drink, in towards others so as to speak confidentially. This person already has a close-knit social group with little inclination to extend it, therefore advances from outsiders are not usually welcome.

Celebrities: Kate Moss, Sadie Frost.

5. The Wallflower: This is a shy, submissive individual who holds the glass protectively, not letting go, as though afraid somebody will take it away. Palms are kept hidden and the glass is used as a social crutch – the drink is never quite finished, with a mouthful left in case of emergency. The drink is small (maybe half a pint of lager for a man). It may be drunk through a straw, which is fidgeted with, and used to stir the drink between sips. The style and pace of drinking is an echo of those around them (very little is initiated). This individual needs to be approached in a gentle, sensitive way, with perhaps a few understated compliments to build self-confidence, but may eventually warm to overtures.

Celebrities: Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman

6. The Flirt: Usually a woman, who holds her glass with dainty, splayed fingers and uses it in a provocative way. She may position it over her cleavage so as to draw attention to her attributes or peer over the rim to make eye contact when taking a sip. She may “tease” the rim of the glass with her finger, perhaps dipping it into the drink and sucking it dry. Assuming her agenda is appealing, the best way to approach is with reciprocal flirtatious gestures.

Celebrities: Jordan, Paris Hilton, Kate Walsh (from The Apprentice)

7. The Fun Lover: This type of drinker may be a man or a woman, who drinks to be sociable and values togetherness. A convivial individual, he / she enjoys being with their friends, and likes a laugh. Swigs taken from bottled drinks are short, so they don’t miss out on chipping in with the conversation. The bottle is held loosely at its shoulder for ease. This type of person is always happy to extend their social circle. The best way to approach them therefore is to leap directly into light, good-humoured conversation and make them laugh.

Celebrities: Sarah Harding, Helen Chamberlain (from Soccer AM)

8. The Playboy: This man is the active, self-confident, Don Juan-type seducer. He uses his (usually long) glass or bottle as a phallic prop, playing with it suggestively. He is inclined to be possessive, and can be tactile with his female companions.

Celebrities: Russell Brand, David Walliams