Monday, February 7, 2011

Ooohh... 30 Taps of the Same Beer!

Pet peeve: walking into a bar that advertises how many beers they have on tap and then looking at the list only to find all of the taps lead to the same keg. It goes something like this:

Miller Lite
Bud Lite
Coors Lite
Amstel Lite
Bud Select
Miller High Life
Rolling Rock
etc., etc., ad nauseam.

I'm sorry, but 30 taps of light lager is nothing to brag about, let alone use as a tool to draw customers in.

Now, we are fortunate enough to live in a city where most bars also offer one or two craft options, usually Spotted Cow, pick-a-Capital, and lately Fat Tire, and I appreciate that fact- visit most other cities/towns and you won't even be that lucky- but is everyone else just as bored with those options as I am? As a craft beer lover, I go in with such high hopes! Scanning the beer list with eager anticipation only to be disappointed by the selection and forced to "settle" for Capital Amber. Again. If that's all you have. (Because none of the beers in the list above are really options.) (Sad face.)

The saddest part of this is that when some of these bars do branch out and offer something unique, it often doesn't sell. And then I come in and order it, only to find that it's been tapped for so long without moving that it's gone bad. Is this the fault of the bar? The patrons? Are staff not trained to sell the new beer? Do the bar owners think it will sell itself (craft beer is super trendy!)? Or is it only on because a distributor offered it for free with the purchase of a lifetime supply of Miller?

Point is, should we, as craft beer drinkers, make more of an effort to encourage these bars to branch out? (Would we frequent them enough if they did?) Or do we continue to retreat to our safe havens and let the light lager lovers continue their reign of supremacy? I think slowly but surely some of these taps will start to turn as consumer education/awareness increases and the demand for craft beers continues to increase, but for now I'll just have to drink my Fat Tire and drop a not-so-subtle hint about what I'd like to see on tap whenever a bar manager is around. And then I'll go to the Malt House.


  1. When given the choice between BMC and pseudo-craft in a dark and dingy "local establishment", I'll almost always go for the BMC and revel in the ambiance. I'd rather drink that than the Spotted Cow, Capital Amber or Redhook Blonde that some places pass off as "craft" beer. Then again I only go to those types of places a couple times per year. We know which places have excellent tap lists (Ale Asylum, Great Dane, Alchemy, Brasserie V, Glass Nickel, Old Fashioned, etc) and frequent them. We don't need to convert everyone to do so...

    If anything we need to start with the patrons, and introduce *them* to something better. Putting in a craft beer tap line does no good if no one orders it, and I wonder if people are really going to *not* order the $2/pints of BMC and order the $4/pints of something better.

  2. Happy to see this post and that I'm not alone. When I'm traveling and get stuck at a national chain "sports bar" (i.e. Buffalo Wild Wings, Hooters, etc), I see 30 taps and am excited, only to get up closer and see there is nothing worth having and I order a water. Fat Tire is common, but just not very good.

    I like when you are at said establishment and you ask what beers they have, and the server says "we have everything", and I say "oh really, do you have a list"... "No, we have everything, just tell me what you want." Well imagine what happens when I ask for a Ballistic IPA or a alpha king? "Hugh?"

  3. Anon #1 - it's the attitude that neither Spotted Cow nor Capital Amber are "'craft' beers" that turns a lot of people away from craft beers. Why is Capital Amber not a craft beer? Are we at the point where only IPAs and Belgian styles count as craft brews?

  4. While I certainly understand the frustrating ubiquity of the Cow and Amber; these have become my go-to's if nothing else is on-tap. However, like Robyn noted, tap-line cleanliness can be a real issue in some of these places. As Ron noted, consumer education needs to occur so that when something does come online people support it and drink it. Unfortunately, the bar help can't often help the customer to justify the $1-2 price difference between BMC and Craft.

  5. I will never pay for BMC. NEVER. I am not supporting those that wish to destroy craft beer. If I can't at least find a Spotted Cow or Supper Club, then a scotch on the rocks it is.

  6. Whether or not a particular beer wears the craft/micro label is beside the point, I think, of the original post. Beer enthusiasts appreciate variety and new experiences more than labels. Unfortunately for us most beer consumers don't want variety, they want to have their favorite beer every time. There's nothing un-craft-y or bad about spotted cow, it's just old news. If every bar in town had BMC and Dark Lord, we'd get sick of Dark Lord pretty quick. I don't think "consumer education" is going to change the overall consumer culture from one of picking favorites to one of trying whatever's new/exciting/seasonal. Most consumers don't want to be educated, they just was their spotted cow.


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