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Behind the Bar: Elevating Service to the Level Your Beer Deserves

Whether in your taproom, brewpub, restaurant, bar, or shop, there’s never been a more important time to double down on improving guest experiences. Here are concrete suggestions for training and developing a team that can rise to that challenge.

Greg Engert Oct 7, 2021 - 8 min read

Behind the Bar: Elevating Service to the Level Your Beer Deserves Primary Image

Taps at 3 Sons Brewing in Dania Beach, Florida. Photo: Jamie Bogner

In the early days of my restaurant career, craft beer was simply not a draw. Sure, there were old-school aficionados—homebrewers and the like seeking out the good stuff—but before this beverage began to go mainstream, I found myself more consumed with the kind of classic service and hospitality that would guarantee consistent business and impressive tips. Thorough preparation for the shift, working cleanly and efficiently, providing attentive service, and cleaning up to do it all again the next night—these were my priorities. I aimed to host a dinner party nightly, looking to exceed expectations to get my guests not just excited to return, but to encourage their family, friends, and coworkers to do the same.

As time went on, I found kindred spirits in sommeliers and mixologists, the kinds of beverage professionals applying broader lessons of restaurant service to the promotion of wine and cocktails, respectively. In brewers, I also found immense kinship; I was—and remain—continually impressed by the single-minded dedication to their craft and by their tireless efforts to create memorable drinking experiences.

The more craft beers I tasted, the more obsessed I became—but not just with the staggering and often surprising array of flavors I was encountering. I also realized that there was a disconnect between the passion poured into the production of these brews and the ultimate service of them. My overarching goal in the hospitality space became applying the service approach of restaurant professionals to craft beer and, in so doing, to echo the brewing fervor so consistently showcased in the beers themselves.

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Greg Engert is beer director of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, whose bars and restaurants include ChurchKey, Rustico, and the Bluejacket brewery, among others.