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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Miss Manners and I Agree: Don't Drink Beer From a Bottle

Judith Martin's Miss Manners column in yesterday's Chicago Tribune was a thing of beauty. The headline was "Beer bottles don't belong at anyone's dinner table." When I saw that I got ready to fire off an angry letter to the Trib's editors, but upon further review I found myself in complete agreement with Ms. Martin.

A reader who lives in an upscale retirement facility had written to Miss Manners to complain that an "elderly lady" of 70-75 years old living at the location had the habit of bringing a bottle of beer from the home's weekly Thursday afternoon happy hour directly into the dining room and would consume the brew straight from the bottle during dinner. "I contend that those who bring the beer with them should have it poured into a glass -- particularly an elderly woman," the letter writer states.

Miss Manners agreed and suggested that the best solution was for the offended co-resident talk to the wait staff prior to dinner and ask them to please bring a glass each Thursday to the bottle guzzler and suggest they do her the service of pouring the beverage and removing the bottle.

I could not agree more, as long as a few simple rules are followed:

1. No frosted mugs. For some reason almost every bar in the Charlotte where I live wants to give me a frozen mug. Stop it. Serve my beer at the proper temperature and I promise to consume it before it warms up.

1a. The only thing worse than the frosted mug trick is the no mug trick. It is a growing and frustrating trend to order a beer and have it arrive sans the glass. Do these places not have dishwashers? Do they think beer drinkers just don't care? More than half the time when you ask for the glass the wait person will shrug. Why? The made the error, not me. Beer is meant to be poured from the bottle to release the flavors.

2. Make sure the glass is clean and the proper style. You would not serve a merlot in a Champagne flute. Don't try to give me a stout in a pilsner glass.

3. Teach your staff how to properly pour a beer. If I have one more server slowly pour my beer down the side of a glass tipped at nearly a 60 degree angle so that no head is visible I'm going to scream. The head on a beer is part of the visual and flavor experience. I'm for beer with a head.

4. Ask if you can remove the bottle. If it is my first time drinking the beer I may want to look at the information on the bottle, or I just might want the visual reminder of what I am drinking so I can recall the name for my blog. I am getting old. It will get worse by the time I'm in a retirement facility.

Now that Miss Manners and I are on the same page, I'd like to talk to her about the proper etiquette for tapping a keg.


David said...

Preach it brother!

I recently posted my views on this subject at "Could I have a non-frosted mug please?"

Heck, now that I look back, it's a recurring theme :-)

It's seems I have several posts on the subject

Our best bet is to continually voice our disapproval, eventually the servers and managers will get it. As more and more restaurants turn to good beer, it's a lesson they will be forced to learn.

Mike said...

Oh, who cares? Let the lady drink it however she wants. It certainly does taste better poured into a glass (except for bottles with widgets), but in the end, it's up to the individual and the situation. While I certainly wouldn't drink beer out of the bottle at a formal dinner, this hardly sounds like that. Someone needs to take a stick out of his/her butt.

Anonymous said...

It's barbaric and shows lack of class to drink beer directly from the bottle.

Anonymous said...

And it's nosy and pretentious to criticize the behavior of an elderly lady at a retirement home happy hour. Who does she have to impress or seek approval from?

At a formal dinner or upscale restaurant, the glass should come with the drink, probably even be required. If you find it "barbaric" or "classless" for people in a diner-type restaurant or a sports bar to prefer a bottle, you probably don't belong there.