There are many reasons the beer you just received doesn’t taste right, and if it doesn’t taste right, it’s your obligation as a beer-lover to let the bartender know something’s up. But it’s important to keep in mind that there’s a way to bring it to their attention without coming off as a dick. Calm yourself, there’s another beer in your very near future. Let’s do this properly.
Here’s why your beer tastes funky, and not awesome Brettanomyces funky. Sometimes taps are dirty (possibly even moldy) which will impart a scummy, very obviously gross flavor. This is lazy bar management. Respecting beer means keeping those lines crystal-clear.
It might be that the bar has had a few slow nights and the keg is no longer fresh (or even fully carbonated). If you beer tastes stale or devoid of the flavor you came to the bar seeking in the first place, this is likely the case. And once in a while, a bottle or even a whole keg, especially limited or small-batch releases, will simply be “infected.” You’ll notice an overly sour, powerful fermented flavor not unlike kombucha. That’s not what you ordered, right?
FR’s beer analyst, Jon Katz, knows how to rectify the problem with minimal tension:
“The sad truth is, dirty tap lines are everywhere,” he says, “the more taps a place has, the harder and more labor intensive it is to keep things clean. If there’s an off-taste to your beer after one or two sips, immediately go back to the same bartender who poured the drink and respectfully explain that you think there might be an issue with the beer.”
Are you sure, man? It seems kind of disrespectful.
“It’s totally okay to do this, in fact any good bar worth your time should want to know about a bad keg or tap line, as it will probably drive other patrons away. If the bartender puts up a fight, it may be time to find a new bar: laziness on their part is no reason to sacrifice the experience of drinking a good beer.”
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