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Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Pub Pet Peeves

For my second Top 10 list I’m feeling grumpy, due to a nasty cold that’s knocked me for a loop. So my list will reflect that, the things that drive me batty when out in public, be it at a beer bar or restaurant, anywhere really, where beer is served that’s a public space. I know most bartenders are hard-working men and women who deserve our respect — and I have a great many friends in such positions — but there are times when the bad ones really drive me balmy. Likewise, customers are often complete jerks to not only the staff but everyone else in the bar, too. I can’t stand to be around these dim bulbs for very long either. I’m not sure which is worse: that they’re being so incredibly rude and/or stupid or that in most cases they don’t even seem to realize it. Add too much alcohol, and the effect is magnified. Such obliviousness to those around them is perhaps the most annoying feature of immaturity, as children are naturally self-centered. As they grow, they learn to care about people other than themselves. But I find that the very idea of respect for others is becoming an old-fashioned, quaint notion. See, I told you I was feeling cantankerous. And I’m feeling old today. The half-century mark is itself one less than 50 days away, and I’m feeling it. I understand I should be thrilled that I have pain, because it should remind that at least I’m still alive. But it feels as if my body decided to remind me by visiting upon me every ache and pain I’ve ever had all at one go. Oh, the humanity! Anyway, here’s List #2:

Top 10 Pub Pet Peeves

Smoke I normally don’t care if other people smoke, but it in an unventilated space like the average bar it gets in the way of enjoying the beer and the company. I know this is a controversial subject, but as smoke has a tendency to drift, smoking sections make about as much sense in a bar or restaurant as they did on airplanes.
Mobile Phones I know it’s the 21st century and I’m no technophobe, obviously, since this is written using a computer and I use a crackberry when out, but I don’t want to hear your phone conversation. If you get a call, take it outside, or at least somewhere more private.
Ordering Off-Menu I find this especially annoying at brewpubs, but to me it’s just as odd at better beer bars, too. When you go to one of these places it should be for the beer, if not the combination of beer and food. So why order a low-calorie light beer from a macro brewery (whether foreign or domestic) or even anything from one of those large beer companies. If you’re at a brewpub, you’re at the source, the place where it’s being made. It’s the reason the place was built and you couldn’t get a fresher beer unless you made some at your table. But still, every now and again you’ll see someone in there nursing his Bud Light, usually straight out of the bottle. It’s even more prevalent at better beer bars. If some bar saw fit to carry some of the tastiest beers money could buy, why on Earth would anyone settle for the ordinary? I suppose the likeliest answer is that person got dragged to the bar by his friends, but could he (or she) muster no better imagination than to order one of the most common beers on the planet? Is advertising and marketing that effective? Sadly, it probably is. And don’t get me started on the person sipping their glass of wine at the brewpub. Really, you couldn’t muster the courage to try the house special? I love wine, but if I’m at a beer place, I’m drinking beer.
Lemons If I wanted a lemon in my beer, I would have asked for one. Just because some people don’t mind — or have been persuaded to think it’s a good idea — to have a lemon wedge in their beer doesn’t mean everyone wants one. And once it’s in there affecting the flavor of the beer, it can’t be undone. So the sensible thing to do would be to ask first, or bring it to the table on a plate, thereby leaving the choice up to the customer. Now why is that so difficult?
Poor Selection This used to be more of a problem than it is today, at least where I live. But there was a time when many bars carried just the macro beers along with a few macro imports, and nothing else, not even Samuel Adams, Anchor or Sierra Nevada. Nowadays you’ll usually find at least one of those three in even the seediest bar. But would it kill a bar to carry just a few beers beyond those? Apparently it never occurred to the owners that people might want something else.
Untrained Staff There’s nothing worse than asking the bartender or waitress about a new beer on the menu and finding out they know nothing whatsoever about it. In some cases, they don’t know the first thing about what they’re serving at all, which I find bizarre. I just can’t imagine the lack of ambition or curiosity that would lead to such apathy. But beyond that individual server, I think it reflects most poorly on the owners who obviously didn’t care that the person representing their business knows absolutely nothing about what they’re selling.
Frosted Glasses What I find most amazing about this abhorrent practice is that it is usually presented as a bonus and when turned down, no matter how graciously, appears to completely confound. The bar that serves frosted glassware believes they’re giving their customers added value, a kind of bonus, while in reality they’re actually ruining the beer. I’ve been served Chimay in a frosted chalice and when I asked — politely — if I could have it in an un-frosted glass, my waitress looked at me like a dog who’d just been shown a card trick. Why would I not want a frosted glass?, her expression seemed to convey. She acted as if I’d hurt her feelings, and our service plummeted for the rest of the meal.
Just the Bottle Why do some bars bring just the bottle or can, forcing me to ask for a glass? Bars should always serve beer in or with a glass — and the appropriate one at that — or at the very least ask me if I want one when taking my order. Sheesh.
Beer Gone Bad and/or Dirty Lines Being served a beer that’s gone bad is a worrying sign on several levels. Is the beer unpopular or is the entire bar? Were the lines not cleaned recently? Most better beer bars understand how important this is, but many average ones don’t seem to get this simple fact. Or is it that they don’t realize the beer has gone bad? Either way, the end result is unhappy customers — or at least the ones who can tell the difference.
Too Cold Despite the marketing barrage trying to convince us that ice cold beer is best, I want to be able to actually taste the beer I’m drinking. That’s why I ordered it. And serving beer too cold seems to be the most pervasive problem in American bars, hands down. Beyond a handful of good beer bars that actually care about the beer they’re serving, most just don’t seem to get that their beer is too frigid.


Also, if you have any ideas for future Top 10 lists you’d like to see, drop me a line.

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