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I encountered a few interesting sales pitches involving craft beer over the last week that have made me curious. On Sunday, Bruce and I went out for our usual brunch run in Adams Morgan and landed at the bar at Asylum. A bloody mary and two mimosas in, we asked to see a beer menu. Based on my request for a Rogue Dead Guy on draft, which they were out of, the bartender suggested a bottle of Kasteel Tripel (likely because these were two of the more highfalutin beers on the menu, not because they taste alike).

As I hemmed and hawed a bit, the bartender took the opportunity to employ a few…tactics. He said Kasteel Tripel was “like Budwesier times ten,” “not so sweet like other Belgian beers,” and “just like a lager.” I giggled and said Kasteel was one of my favorite breweries and that I had never heard their tripel described that way before. The Belgian brew is an 11%-ABV medium-bodied beer with biscuit and fruit flavors, which is about as different from a Budweiser, math aside, as a bowl of chili is from a single lima bean.

Then a similar thing happened on Tuesday at happy hour at BarCode downtown. (First, the happy hour is a darn good one: Half price on their decent but modest selection of draft and bottle beers from 4 to 7pm Monday through Friday. $4 for a bottle of Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA? Unheard of!) My friend asked our server what Goose Island Sofie was like. His response, which I should divulge was preceded with “I’m not much of a beer drinker,” was that it was just like Yuengling and that she would like it. Again, the tart, citrusy, sparkling wine-like Sofie is worlds away from Yuengling (Bleh).

Comparing complex Belgian-style beers to, let’s just say, “mild-flavored” lagers like Yuengling and Budweiser offended the craft beer champion in me at first. But I quickly realized that while Bruce and I are less likely to order a new beer that is compared to Yuengling, most bartenders almost always have the opposite problem. They have to work pretty hard to get new drinkers to try the array of more flavorful beers that are poured along side the big American macro-brews these days.

Whether these bartenders were trying to help expand palates or pad their wallets, this kind of sales pitch is now an established pattern. Have you had a similar encounter? What modes of persuasion have bartenders tried on you?

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