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Behind the Bar: Pouraphernalia

Brewing marches onward—but presentation sadly lags behind, failing to do the product justice. Greg Engert, beer director of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, offers the latest tools of the trade to help bars and taprooms rise to the challenge.

Greg Engert Jun 15, 2020 - 10 min read

Behind the Bar: Pouraphernalia Primary Image

Here’s a situation I find myself in all too often: after some long-overdue planning and schedule rearrangement, I finally make it to a new—or new to me—craft-beer bar that has garnered attention, if not acclaim. The beer list online looks impressive, and the offerings continue to stand out upon arrival. Everything is going smoothly until the first beers hit the table. The foam fizzles to reveal a glass rim marred by lipstick stains or water marks. A hint of chlorine accompanies the first sip.

Once again, I am reminded that craft beer does not a craft-beer bar make.

I don’t mean to undervalue the art of procurement and curation, nor the deep knowledge base, evolved palate, and knack for relationship-building that should support the work of list-building, but—as craft beer has gone mainstream and reached relative ubiquity—I am consistently underwhelmed by the state of beer service. The availability of high-quality beer continues to outpace the ability to properly present it. Too often the work of the best brewers is derailed by the actions of beer directors, taproom managers, publicans, and restauranteurs the world over.

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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.