Once the beer has been made and delivered, it’s up to the bottle shops and taprooms to explain why a beer should be the one to purchase to a consumer. Some of the more successful taprooms in the county understand the importance of a knowledgeable staff that can hand sell a product, pair the beer with food and go into detail about the tasting profile. When suggesting a beer, I’ve found that the key to a good suggestion is finding out what each person doesn’t like first. If a customer tells me that they don’t like bitter beer, I’m probably going to stay clear of an IPA suggestion.

Sure, the brewers are the rock stars, but far too often we overlook the beertenders that become the face of a taproom and beer shop. It’s not all that often that most of us are able to sit with the brewers to drink a beer and discuss it. Much more often you see a beertender that establishes a rapport with you and is able to give you a good suggestion based on what you’ve ordered in the past. A good beertender is observant and asks for your feedback when you taste a new beer for the first time.

Some of the better beertenders are passionate about hooking up the right beer with a person that will truly appreciate it. When speaking to Rachel Ingram who beer tends at the Whole Foods Taproom in Coddingtown she told me that she really enjoys the relationships that she develops with her regular customers. When I pay the taproom a visit she’s quick to suggest a beer that she thinks I will enjoy.

It’s becoming much more common for businesses to help their employees become certified cicerones. Some businesses look at it as an investment that pays for itself in the long run. A cicerone certification program certifies and educates beer professionals in order to elevate the beer experience for consumers. The next time your favorite beertender makes a great recommendation make sure to drop a tip and a compliment.

– Peter Lopez