There are unspoken rules when bellying up to a beer bar. And in order to demystify the dos and don’ts of the proper way to partake while getting plowed, I sat down with Dan Venskus, GM, pint-slinger and beer buyer for the reputable craft-suds hotspot Lord Hobo in Cambridge, to get candid about all the stuff one needs to know when it comes to decorum during any pint-downing session. Hint: not being a dickhead goes a long way. Goes for you too, ladies.
How should a customer reveal they lack beer-knowledge?
First, don’t be shy about not knowing beer. It makes my job harder when you don’t come clean about having no fucking idea what you’re talking about. Second, I’ve tried (insert: any beer in the house), so that’s a silly question. It’s simple: Just give your bartender an idea of what you like, and they’ll take care of you.
Advice to a customer if they don’t like their pint?
Not liking a beer because it’s off is one thing, but returning a beer because it’s not what you wanted can be avoided by getting a sample. If you’ve [tried] the beer before, ask one of two things: “I’ve never had [it], what’s it like?” or “Can I try a taste?”
How many samples are appropriate before you blow the whistle?
That’s not a problem I usually encounter. Someone could treat themselves to 16 one-ounce samples, and achieve a free pint. But, you could also [just] put a splash of [several] soda[s] in your Burger King cup like you did when you were a stupid child. [Don't be] a stupid child.
Bartending is a social job. Are there times when you avoid chitchat?
I never avoid it. But sometimes I get too busy to listen to your tale. Just because we’re bartenders, it doesn’t mean we have to indulge everyone. And customers need to learn social cues. They can’t be mad at a bartender for walking away.
What’s the best way to get a bartender’s attention when it’s a packed house?
By patiently waiting for them to acknowledge you. They will. And [then] they will get to you. So be patient, take a breath, [and] don’t panic. A good or bad bartender will still be a good or bad bartender no matter how much you snap your fingers or whistle at them. And definitely don’t call them by anything other than their actual name. No “boss” or “chief.”
Should a customer tip more on a complicated drink than a draft beer?
Tipping shouldn’t be based on the degree of difficulty. Cocktails are already priced higher based on the complexity. My advice: Tip more in general. Either pay as you go (read: $1 per beer) or run a tab, [rack up] a couple drinks, and [then] tip 20%.
ABIDE BY THE RULES AT LORD HOBO. 92 HAMPSHIRE ST., CAMBRIDGE. 617-250-8454. LORDHOBO.COM