Tips on Tipping Your Beertender

A topic that has come to my attention a lot recently is how to properly tip beertenders at a brewery. I’ve read articles, had discussions with customers and coworkers, and of course, have everyday experience to draw from.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind during your next brewery visit:

When you order a full pint, tip at least a dollar (plus change when applicable). This is standard across the industry, and chances are, you’ll continue to get quick service when your glass is empty. A pint of beer will generally run somewhere between $5-8: an average of about $6.50. If you consider that 15-20% tip is standard, then your tip on a pint should be between $1-1.50. 

When your beertender goes above and beyond (i.e. giving you several “splashes” to try before you order, giving you a freebie, etc.), go above and beyond the standard tip for them. Often times, beertenders notice when you do this, and chances are, they’ll continue to hook you up from time to time!

If you’re ordering a flight, tip at least two dollars. These take a bit more finesse – more time to pour, often dealing with indecisive customers, etc. and therefore deserve a slightly larger tip than a pint would.

If you’re getting a crowler or growler fill, the general rule of 15-20% is appreciated. Often times, we have to hold up the line of customers waiting to grab their next pint while we take time away to fill a growler or crowler. It’s fair to tip accordingly for this service.

If you use a growler, please make sure you bring them in clean! Always rinse it with hot water immediately after use, let air dry, and store upright without a cap (breweries will generally provide you with a new one at no charge). Before you bring it in, do the sniff test: if there’s no smell, it’s clean. If it smells at all, soak again in hot water and give it a good rinse.

If you’re simply picking up pre-packaged beer or merch to go, a small tip of a dollar or two is certainly appreciated, but not necessarily expected. Your beertender likely didn’t have to go through much trouble with this kind of transaction, so you don’t have to go out of your way if this is the case.

If you’re paying in cash as you go, tip a bit higher your first round. This will usually ensure that your bartender is keeping an eye on your glass, and as soon as it’s empty, they’re likely to have another round ready to serve you.

Lastly, leave your tip in cash whenever possible, even if you’re paying by card. Depending on the establishment, some bartenders are able to take some cash tips without paying the tax on it in their paycheck. It’s not the case for every employee or every brewery, but either way, we generally prefer a cash tip and walking away with money in our pockets.

Fun fact!

Many people believe the origin of the term “tips” was actually as an acronym: To Insure Prompt Service.

Remember, beertenders often rely on tips as part of their income—even spare change adds up at the end of the night. Please keep these tips in mind next time you visit your local brewery. Always be kind and respectful to your beertenders!

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National Beer Day

You know on occasions like this, I have to throw you a dose of history with your beer knowledge!

Every year on April 7th we celebrate National Beer day, marking the anniversary of the day in which the Cullen–Harrison Act was enacted, allowing people to buy, sell and drink beer containing up to 3.2% alcohol by weight (or 4.05% by volume).

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the legislation on March 22, 1933, remarking “I think this would be a good time for a beer.” Sixteen days later when the law went into effect, people all over the country gathered outside of their local breweries in anticipation. On the first day of sales alone, 1.5 million barrels of beer were consumed, inspiring the holiday we celebrate today.

Happy Days are Beer Again

The Cullen-Harrison Act redefined an “intoxicating beverage” under the Volstead Act, and should not be confused with the day the Eighteenth Amendment (prohibition) was repealed (which was December 5, 1933). This year, we celebrate 85 years of being able to buy, sell and consume alcohol in the US!

As if you didn’t already have enough reasons to crack open a beer today, here are a few more to consider. In moderation, beer can have good effects on your body! For one, beer contains antioxidants, which can lower your risk of heart attack, diabetes and bone disease. It can also help ease stress—a truly theraputic mental wellness benefit.

Beer also has social benefits. Many of us make lifelong friends through visiting local breweries and talking to the person next to us. Or maybe it’s bonding with your co-workers over a few cold ones during happy hour. Beer is also known to increase your confidence, making it that much easier to make a new friend!

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Today, you can celebrate in several ways:

  • Visit your favorite local brewery and maybe even make a new friend while you’re there.
    • Pro tip: Consider bringing home a crowler or growler of your favorite brew to be enjoyed later!
  • Crack open a old one to enjoy with some friends. Maybe even make it a group bottle share!
    • Pro tip: Download Untappd to rate and notate any beers you drink, so you can remember them for later.
  • Try a new beer that you’ve never had before.
    • Pro tip: Check Beer Advocate or Untappd for ratings if you come across something you’re unsure about.
  • Homebrew your own beer, whether you’re an expert, or just a beginner.
    • Pro tip: If you’re just getting started, you can find my homebrew guide here.

I hope you all take the time to enjoy National Beer Day. Leave me a comment below to tell me how you celebrated the day!

Bootleggers, Prohibition & Al Capone

Today is January 17th, which means it’s National Bootleggers Day! While this probably doesn’t mean much to most people, I like that it gives us a chance to think about alcohol and what it means to us. I’m amazed at how far alcohol laws in this country have come in the past 100 years, but I think it’s equally important to remember what it took to get there, and how far we still have to go.

Ninety-eight years ago today, on January 17th, 1920, the Volstead Act (or National Prohibition Act) was enacted to carry out the intent of the Eighteenth Amendment, which prohibited the sale of alcohol, leaving the country dry for a painfully long 13 years, and in turn, opening the door for illegal bootlegging and organized crime.

Bootleggers

It didn’t take long for people to realize that prohibition wasn’t working, and bootleggers quickly came to the rescue of thirsty Americans, providing illegal alcohol to those seeking it out. They started by smuggling booze from Canada or Mexico, and later, many distilled their own liquor in backwoods and other secluded areas and sold it to speakeasies, which popped up by the thousands.

All of this was happening not long after World War I, and our country was going through a new period of extreme highs and lows, from the Roaring Twenties to the Great Depression. Crime rates were skyrocketing, and most bootleggers weren’t just supplying alcohol to consumers — they were also involved with mobsters, loan sharks, gambling, prostitution, extortion, political corruption and murders.

It quickly became clear that the Volstead Act’s primary target was the working-class poor. Law officers would often look the other way while many of the upper classes acquired large stockpiles of alcohol, buying out inventory of liquor retailers before the act took effect, and poor families would be punished for having just one or two bottles of homebrew.

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In just the first six months of Prohibition, the federal government filed cases for over 7,200 Volstead Act violations, and by the end of the first year, that number jumped to nearly 30,000 cases, and continued to rise dramatically throughout the course of Prohibition.

capone

Perhaps ironically, today is also the birthday of Al Capone, who is arguably the most infamous Prohibition-era bootlegger. Also commonly known by his nickname, Scarface, Capone was the co-founder and boss of the Chicago Outfit, a mafia organization which was involved in a wide range of criminal activity, but was most well-known for distributing illegal alcohol during Prohibition. Capone was later convicted of tax evasion, imprisoned at Alcatraz, then passed away several years after his release from cardiac arrest after suffering a stroke at age 48.

Finally, on March 22nd, 1933, thirteen years after it all began, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Cullen-Harrison Act into law, legalizing beer and wine with an alcohol content of 3.2% or less, and a few months later on December 5th, 1933, the ratification of the twenty-first Amendment repealed the Eighteenth Amendment.

So how should you celebrate this monumental day in history? Perhaps with a glass of Templeton Rye, or as they affectionately call it “The Good Stuff.” This Prohibition-era whiskey company was started in the small town of Templeton, Iowa, and according to them was Al Capone’s whiskey of choice. If you’d like to raise a glass in celebration, you can try one of the classic cocktails below. Cheers!

Whiskey glasses

Manhattan
2 ounces rye whiskey
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1-2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 Maraschino cherry (for garnish)

  1. Pour the whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters into a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir until outside of the glass is very cold.
  2. Place a maraschino cherry in a chilled cocktail glass. Strain the contents of the mixing glass over cherry and serve.

Sazerac
1 teaspoon absinthe
2 ounces rye whiskey
3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 sugar cube
A few drops water
Lemon peel

  1. In a mixing glass, muddle a sugar cube with a few drops of water, then add the bitters. Mix until dissolved, then add the rye. Add plenty of ice, and stir for about 30 seconds.
  2. Pour the absinthe into a chilled Old Fashioned glass, and rotate glass until the inside is well coated; discard the excess. Strain the liquid from your mixing glass into the Old Fashioned glass. Twist a piece of lemon peel over the drink and serve.

 

Not Your Stereotypical Beer Drinker

My Perspective on Being a Woman in the Craft Beer Industry

Before you read any further in this post, do me a favor. Close your eyes and try to picture what the average craft beer drinker looks like. What do you see? Is it a man or a woman? Are they young or old? Stick thin, or heavy set? We’ll get back to this later in the post.

I think it shocks some people when I tell them what I do for a living. They look at me, see a 5’4″, 125 lb. white girl, and think I’m just a pretty face who also happens to know how to pour a beer. Little do they know, I’m so much more than that. Working in a brewery isn’t just for bearded young men—many women drink beer, brew beer, and sell beer! In fact, if you know anything about the history of beer, you’ll know that brewing beer was traditionally a women’s trade before modern times.

It all started around 1800 B.C., when the Hymn to Ninkasi was first written. Ninkasi was the Sumerian goddess of beer, and undoubtedly one of the reasons beer exists today. This poem served as perhaps the first written beer recipe. Here’s an excerpt: 

Hymn to Ninkasi

Borne of the flowing water,
Tenderly cared for by the Ninhursag,

You are the one who handles the dough [and] with a big shovel,
Mixing in a pit, the bappir with sweet aromatics,

You are the one who bakes the bappir in the big oven,
Puts in order the piles of hulled grains,

You are the one who waters the malt set on the ground,
The noble dogs keep away even the potentates,

You are the one who soaks the malt in a jar,
The waves rise, the waves fall.

You are the one who spreads the cooked mash on large reed mats,
Coolness overcomes,

You are the one who holds with both hands the great sweet wort,
Brewing [it] with honey [and] wine
Ninkasi, you the sweet wort to the vessel

The filtering vat, which makes a pleasant sound,
You place appropriately on a large collector vat.

Ninkasi, you are the one who pours out the filtered beer of the collector vat,
It is [like] the onrush of Tigris and Euphrates.

I won’t bore you with a complete history of beer, but as you could guess a lot has changed in the last 4,000 years. Brewing is now a profession dominated by men, and women are clearly now the minority.

However, in my opinion, being in an industry dominated by the opposite sex isn’t strictly negative. Personally, it’s become one of many ways to stand out. Customers and others in the industry stop me all the time when they recognize “that girl from Valiant.” They may not know my name (or anything else about me), but they remembered me. That says something, and it means a lot!

There are actually many women involved in the beer industry, but some days, it doesn’t feel like that. There have been plenty of instances where I feel like the only woman in this “man’s world,” but that’s only because often times, I am, at least in a relative sense. I’m proud to say that I’m the first and only woman ever hired at Valiant (which will forever be the case), and I’m also the only woman to join the newly-formed Asylum Brewing. Side note: Come visit me!

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Our last night in the tasting room at Valiant, surrounded by amazing co-workers, friends, family and loyal customers

I remember my working interview at Valiant. I walked in, ready to conquer the world that day. Geovanny was my trainer for the evening, and at some point, we ended up engaging in a great conversation about breaking stereotypes. Right then, I knew I had his full support, but I also knew that I’d have to put my money where my mouth is and prove my worth: So I did! The guys who have worked with me will tell you that I can do anything they can do (and maybe better!). I know that I have to work that much harder to prove myself, but I’m OK with that!

This isn’t a problem exclusive to breweries, though. When I tell people that I homebrew, people will often ask if my husband helps me. If you must know, the answer is yes, but not because I need his help, it’s because he enjoys making beer too! When my husband and I go out to dinner, I almost always order a beer (unless Corona is the most exotic choice on the menu), while my husband will possibly order a cocktail or something non-alcoholic. If the employee delivering the drinks is not the same person who took our order, you can bet they put that lone beer in front of my husband. This happens on a regular basis.

According to a recent study by the Brewer’s Association, it’s quite easy to see why people make these assumptions. Although women are drinking beer almost as much as men, the majority of the regular craft beer drinkers are men.

brewers-association-pollfood-cold-wood-hand

Pink Boots SocietyGenerally, I do feel that the industry is receptive toward women, but we still have some hurdles to overcome. In 2007, Teri Fahrendorf founded The Pink Boots Society, an organization which assists, inspires and encourages women beer professionals through education. PBS created a platform to help women brewers meet mentors and other women in the profession and also helps to raise awareness for females in the industry. They educate women in all aspects of craft beer and even raise money for scholarships.

After all, women are passionate about beer for the same reasons men are. Beyond taste itself, beer provides a certain sense of community and togetherness like nothing else—it’s a very social culture! I know the focus of this post is women in the beer industry, but this principle applies to more than just the female population. It doesn’t matter whether you’re young or old, male or female, skinny or fat, black or white, gay or straight. Beer doesn’t discriminate! I see the full spectrum of people at breweries, and it’s easy to see why.

I’ve made many friends though craft beer, all of whom are very different people, but we always share a passion for craft beer, which in my mind makes us more similar than different. We don’t all look alike, and that’s OK!

Now think back to the first paragraph where I asked you to picture what a typical craft beer drinker looks like. Has your mind changed?

Next time you’re at a brewery, make it a point to stop and talk with someone you might not otherwise talk to. Find the person that you think you have the least in common with. Ask them what beers they like, or which breweries they frequent. Who knows, you might just find out about a new spot to visit, or get a great beer recommendation. If you’re really lucky, you’ll have a new friend to visit breweries with!

If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.

I’d like to finish by saying this: Other than people in the craft beer industry, who do you know who ever says that they love their job? Marc Anthony once said, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” And that’s exactly how I feel! I’m proud to be a part of the craft beer industry, regardless if women are a minority. I’m not discouraged, and will continue to do my part to change that!