By BRETT HOPPER
“My boyfriend had this beer… ugh, I can’t remember the name of it, but I want to buy it again, for him… It had something to do with Canada… What was it? Oh, and geography! Do you have that?”
Hi, I’m your beer store clerk, and yes, scenarios such as this are familiar territory for me. That’s what they pay me for: To traverse through your muddled statements and open-ended questions to no one in particular, and find the beer you’re looking for. Or, at least something like it.
I’m not trying be mean here. In fact, it’s kind of a fun exercise. A guessing game, a riddle wrapped in beer! Beer stores today have become a sort of adult candy store, granted, a more expensive candy store, but my point is: it’s hard to choose what to get.
That’s where my job comes in. I know what we have, and with a little conversation, I can narrow down the selection, a little, to something you might be interested in.
MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE BEER STORE CLERK. Seriously. If you become a regular, and I see what you buy regularly, I can make recommendations based on your style, and what I think you might like to drink. I can even save some choice selections away for you, for the next time you swing by the shop.
What’s annoying is how people act when there’s not enough information for me to make an educated guess on what you’re looking for. You can tell me how much you enjoyed it, or how the flavour saved your marriage, but that’s not really anything to go off of.
“The beer was light in colour.” Great! that narrows it down to about half of the store. “It smelled citrusy.” Again, we sell 800 different beers, but to your credit… we’ve now narrowed it down to 250.
What if I can’t find what you’re after, or we don’t have what you’re looking for? Sad face… Maybe, you’ve now determined that we have a bad selection. Wrong, we have a great selection! Half of the fun of the craft beer movement is the variety of options out there. Get in that beer cooler, and try something new!
Yes, the plight of the beer store clerk is a lonely battle. We don’t expect praise, or for everyone to understand that it’s hard to be the keeper of beer. To keep the fridge organized by style. To be judged if we don’t carry your beer, or if we run out, is truly a torment not meant for the weak. We, the beer store clerks, are constantly cataloguing new beers being released, and always trying something new. It’s hard work, but someone has to do it.
The answer to the riddle above is Parallel 49, of course, and you’ll find it in the fridge.