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Finding the Perfect Bar

Interior of Appalachian Brewing Co. – Lititz

This past Friday, I came across a common decision that I’m sure each of you have before – what bar should I choose to meet up with some friends? In this case, I was looking for a bar that I could watch the Penn State game while drinking a good micro-brew. Optimally, there would be something on draft that I have not tried before. In the end, I went with Arooga’s Rt. 22 and got to try Widmer Brr Winter Warmer. So, this got me thinking: What criteria do a value when selecting a venue? Below I’ll outline what I personally think are the most important ones.

1) Draft Selection

Without sounding too much like a beer aficionado (read: snob) I first value the choice and diversity of a draft menu. Sometimes a sweet special on a typical macro is appealing, but I typically want to try something new when I visit a bar. Then, if I really enjoy my first taste of it, I can go invest in a six pack or case from a distributor. Thankfully, I have noticed many bars follow the rise of microbrewery popularity, and in turn add more taps to their draft offering. Also, many bars post their draft lists online  on their website or Facebook page. So, at worst case, there will be at least one beer that isn’t Cheap Lite.

2) Location

Getting a better beer at the bar is always great, but not without the trade-off having to drive extensively to get there (or pay a hefty cab fee!). Unless it’s a rare once-in-a-lifetime beer, I follow the phrase “Let the beer come to you, rather than you go to the beer.” Additionally, after having a few drinks over the course of watching a game or chatting with friends, I usually get tired. The last thing I want to do is have a long distance to travel home afterwards.

Come on FOX, that’s not that game I wanted to watch!

3) TVs

This is more important when I am there to watch a specific game. Personally, I do not have NFL Sunday Ticket nor the NFL Network, so there are times I have to rely on a bar to follow my team (Green Bay Packers). In those cases, I may be more lenient about the first two criteria when wanting to watch a specific game. Most sport bars are great by having a ludicrous amount of televisions wallpapering the bar. The trade-off, though, may be the draft selection.

4) Bartenders/Staff

Just like any restaurant, the hospitality and friendliness of the bartenders are a meaningful factor. Some things like a nice pour, or prompt service can go a long way (and encourages me to leave a better tip!). I’ve worked past jobs in restaurants, and know how taxing it can be on the busy nights, so I don’t freak when I have to wait 10-15 minutes to cash out immediately following the end of a football game. What I optimally expect is when I have questions about a new beer or suggestions of what to get, that the server is ready with a recommendation or two.

What do you value most? Would you order these differently, or is there something else you find important when choosing a bar? Have you encountered knowledgeable bartenders that give you beer recommendations? Feel free to write below.

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Written by Kenton Martin

Kenton is a Southeast PA native who began diversifying his beer tastes alongside many of The Beer Circle writers at Zeno’s beerfests in State College, PA. He continues to live in the area and is an avid follower of the local microbreweries – going so far as to try his hand at brewing himself. Initial results have been very successful. Find Kenton Martin on Google Plus

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