Friday, July 15, 2016

Diary: You have three draft spouts. What do you pour?

For diary entries, I sling it without thinking too much about minor annoyances like spelling and syntax. 

Yesterday, I asked whether a "good beer bar" qualifies as memorable if it does not serve draft beer. I'm still assuming that this hypothetical bar will have 20-30 beers in bottles and cans, and today, let's imagine it possessing a three-keg box, capable of holding three full kegs only.

It would NOT be adapted to house five or six one-sixth barrels, just three regular kegs. What would you pour, and how would your pouring schedule work?

Glancing backward through the mists of time, I can recall when this question mattered to me. We had a three-keg box in 1992 at Rich O's, and our first choice of draft was Guinness. Later we added Carlsberg (then Pilsner Urquell). When we had enough money to get the third tower working, it rotated. The draft system grew and grew.

These days, there are 35 or more taps at my formal business, with house-brewed beers and guests. Draft became the focus, and the bottle list has diminished accordingly.

My current hunch is that in the present age, when one seemingly never knows if a beer will be on tap more often than once every six months, the idea of permanently anchoring two of these towers is sound.

As a contrarian of long standing, perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that if I were in the position to pick these three beers, my choices (today) would be Guinness, Pilsner Urquell and a rotation of Fuller's London Pride (or something like it) and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Not "session" per se, but close.

So much for my years advocating American "craft," but hear my defense before passing the verdict: "Craft" is everywhere, and the Old World classics have been overwhelmed. Isn't it time to pick up the string of education where it started? Besides, there'd be ample space on a hypothetical bottle and can list to feature American "craft" styles.

The other factor is size. The establishment I have in mind is small (see tomorrow's post), and given the exponential growth of American "craft" beer, you'd genuinely need a Hop Cat or Mellow Mushroom to do it justice.

BUT NOT TO WORRY. I can imagine an American "craft" only lineup just as easily.

I have other ideas, so keep reading, and let me know what you think.

1 Diary: Does a bar serving good beer need draft lines to succeed?
2 Diary: You have three draft spouts. What do you pour?
3 Diary: Can there be a singer-songwriter version of the "good beer" bar?



David Kahl said...

I like your choices, but I'd probably opt to rotate the three taps by style. Even basic like light, dark, and session would allow greater variety (perhaps showcasing local finds?) and interest for customers to return again. Wait...doesn't a brewery near the ballpark do this?

The New Albanian said...

Yes, it does. The rotation by style is a good idea.

Adam P said...

A million ideas come to mind, but if I were to 'real world it' and go safe, I'd likely have a fail safe entry level beer I could still serve in good conscience like Sam Adams/fat tire in permanent residence. Rotate the other two with local stuff, trying to keep an ipa on most of the time (shouldn't be hard...)

The reverse also comes to mind - having some solid basics among the bottles and going crazy with the taps-one offs, weird stuff, etc. While they have a lot more taps than 3 (8, I think) The Beer Trappe in Lexington does this to pretty great success - as quick as they change kegs it's likely not full kegs though.

The New Albanian said...

Speaking hypothetically, if there might be draft lines, my thought is for them to be fairly set, the idea being to return to the notion of pub standbys for that segment of the audience that feels a bit confused by constant rotation (read: older). Also, as alluded to on occasion previously, there's the notion of being THAT place with (fill in the with two things good) always on tap. I think the draft is the ground game and bottles the passing game. Perhaps a representative Belgian lineup for contemplative sipping.

Rick500 said...

If I had only three draft lines and wasn't running a brewery, I'd have a rotating selection of one Pilsner, one APA or IPA (probably mostly APA), and one nitro stout or nitro porter.

The New Albanian said...

Rick ... we think alike.