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Craft beer bartending: Expert Tips from a Pro

by | CAREER TIPS

Getting your first job pouring pints in a craft beer bar is just the beginning of the journey. While you may think you already know a lot about that world, working in a bar that serves only craft beer will provide you with a much broader education and perspective.

If you want to be a craft beer bartender, you need a different set of skills than other bartending jobs. You won’t need to have an extensive knowledge of cocktails or other skills you’d need in a traditional bar.

More than any other bartending job, working in a craft beer bar requires a specific mixture of knowledge and soft skills.

We’re here to help you succeed in this niche yet rapidly growing subculture. To do this we’ve put together some essential tips (with some wisdom from craft beer bar manager Tommy Hahs sprinkled throughout) for you to keep in mind when you’re pouring beers during a busy shift.

Speed is key

In a craft beer bar, the bartender is often the only person working. This means you have to take orders, pour pints, process payments, change kegs, and anything else that might pop up during a shift. There can be a lot of moving parts and it’s easy to get bogged down if there’s a sudden rush of customers.

It’s important to be as efficient as possible behind the bar. You have to be able to serve everybody and accomplish your tasks without getting in over your head.

Pouring a pint takes just a few seconds but that’s often the last step in the interaction. However, recommending beers can take much longer than that. You have to help guide someone to a decision as fast as possible without rushing them or sacrificing excellent service.

Plus, the more people you serve and pints you pour, the more tips you’ll have at the end of the shift.

Tommy says:

“Every experienced bartender or waiter/waitress knows how to serve people quickly and turn over tables. That’s what really makes a difference in your paycheck at the end of month.”

Manage your time

This goes hand in hand with efficiency. The most efficient and effective bartenders are masters of time management. Being able to manage your time in a way that allows you to provide excellent customer service can be a challenge for new bartenders.

If you want to get the most out of your job, you should have a very clear idea of exactly how much time you need to spend on every task. If the task is taking longer than that, then you know you need to make an adjustment to your process.

Tommy says:

“It’s all about knowing what to do and when. I see a lot of new bartenders here and their time management is all over the place. You have to know when to talk and when to clean. You need to know how long you should spend helping someone navigate the beer menu. It’s not as simple as it seems.

But, once you’ve figured it out, you can really kind of settle into a nice rhythm with everything.”

Know how to talk

Bartenders have long been known as a person customers can talk to about pretty much anything. You have to be a sounding board, a shoulder to cry on, and even a street level therapist. People often want someone to chat just as much as they want a drink. 

This can be especially true at a craft beer bar. When you work at one of these establishments, the customers are coming in with a specific purpose: to drink delicious beer. They’re not just having a double rum and coke to calm their nerves. 

Craft beer bar customers can be a chatty bunch, especially when it comes to discussing what’s on tap. On top of being a fountain of beer knowledge, you should be comfortable with talking to people from all walks of life.

A good craft beer bartender is just as much a friendly face to chat with as they are a salesperson.

Tommy says:

“You have to be a conversationalist. You have to love talking to people. If you’re not a social person, this job is gonna be really tough for you.

Not only do you need to know how to talk to people but you also need to know what to talk about. Or more importantly, what not to talk about. 

You can’t control what other people are talking about but when you’re involved you should steer the conversation away from problematic topics. 

I have a strict rule that I live by here: don’t talk about politics, religion, or sex.”

Working in a bar can be incredibly rewarding and exciting if you’ve got the right personality. If you think serving people drinks sounds like the right career path for you, check out the open bar jobs available on Hosco today!

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