Good beer service is hard to find

Mike Buhler
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I’d like to talk about a poor beer experience my girlfriend and I had while in Washington, D.C. for a family reunion. There are a few beer-centric establishments there, but it’s not quite a beer town yet.

Even customers buying beer deserve good service. — Submitted image

Where it all went south for us was a place called Pizzeria Paradiso. It was our last night in town and we met family there for supper.

A few columns ago, I talked about lambics, which fall into the broad category of “sour” beers, and this restaurant had plenty. My girlfriend and I were in the mood for something tart and crisp.

The labour intensity and time to create these beers along with the rarity and current demand make most of these beers premium offerings. The Cisco Monomoy Kriek from Nantucket was no exception at $40, but a 750 ml bottle would go nicely for two with our pizza.

Our server informed us that the beer guy was getting our bottle and when I looked around I saw him walking to our table holding an uncorked bottle with foam coming out the top. He mumbled to my girlfriend that he would discount it because it had foamed a lot.  He then poured us each a glass, placed the bottle on the table and left.

When someone orders a premium bottle of wine at a restaurant, it is standard practice to open the bottle at the table in front of the customer and present the cork. The same is true for a premium bottle of beer; our beer server did neither. His third mistake was to rest the neck of the bottle on the rim of each glass as he poured, which is also poor form as it is a means to transmit bacteria from the bottle to the glass.

When I went to pour more into our glasses, I realized about half of the bottle had been lost when he opened it. Granted, he offered a discount, but half a bottle? He should have noted the size of the loss and offered to open a new bottle at our table or give us the partial bottle.

We weren’t yet prepared to abandon my cousins or the beer list, so I chose a Belgian 2012 Experimental Cassis from Hanssens; another hard-to-find 375 ml bottle. I asked our server to bring the bottle to our table so I could open and pour it, which she did and I commended her, despite the fact I felt she pushed us on our first bottle when she asked if we wanted another beer; with any serious beer, I don’t want to feel rushed.

I was surprised to see from the cork and the sediment on the bottle that they store their beer on its side like wine. Beer should almost always be stored upright, except in rare situations.

Next we were offended when the maître d’, whose station was five feet from our table, told us we couldn’t sit there after we’d only stood up to say goodbye to my cousins — after we’d been there for a full meal. We asked for the bill.

After seeing the high quality of their beer list, I was taken aback at the obvious lack of knowledge and training of their staff and so-called beer person who turned out to be the manager. Tony obviously has not taken it upon himself to learn how to treat and serve beer properly, and he wasn’t professional enough to speak to me about the beer pour fiasco.,

I’m sure most customers don’t know the difference but that’s not the point. Good beer deserves respect, good treatment and presentation. The customer buying it deserves good service and knowledgeable staff. You can experience that locally at Raymond’s or One 11 Chophouse. Enjoy.

Mike Buhler is a certified cicerone. Email him at, or check out for information on beer club offerings.

Geographic location: Nantucket

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