Giving a Beer Back to the Bartender

Eno Sarris, June 22, 2015

I bought a beer Saturday night, and I gave it back.

Well, I mean I drank about half of my Citron Saison from Golden Road. Something about how strong the citrus was in that saison made it taste like steel. I just didn't want any more, and there were many beers I wanted to try on the tap list at the Rose and Crown, and so I made the decision. 

I put it down emphatically and ordered another. 

The bartender paused as if he was accepting an order for later, and then did a double-take, and then was like 'oh you mean you want that new beer now.' And then, about halfway through my second beer after the beer I didn't finish, he carted the old half beer away. There was a look, maybe a couple of them. 

I know what the look(s) said. It said I was a douchebag snob. It doesn't help -- at all -- to explain that I had been drinking well that day (Mosaic Hose from De Garde, and a Geuze from Drei Fonteinen, and Toppling Goliath pseudo Sue) and that maybe I just didn't want to blemish my day with a beer I didn't like. That only makes me sound like more of a douchebag beer snob. 

My brother in law has the "no alcohol left behind" policy which doesn't allow him to drain pour anything. He made us keep our bad old homebrew until it exploded in the basement and my wife threatened to throw all the equipment away if we used the basement for home brew storage again, citing the glass she found at neck level near the washing machine, 40 yards from where our brewing stuff was stored. So I know what he thinks of me. I didn't tell him the story. 

And even here, among craft beer lovers, I deserve scorn. Just drink the beer. As my partner in drinking said that night, some of the best nights we've ever had, we have no idea what we were drinking. He cited karaoke in Japan, which, yeah, you're just drinking watered down Sapporo, so he has a point. 

But to heck if I'm going to finally get out of my house for two hours and get to my local beer bar and have bad beer. Why waste my time. It was a sunk cost, and I wasn't enjoying it. So screw the look down the nose. Charge me or don't charge me, I've made the decision to not drink that beer any more and I'm the customer. 

Of course, after all these thoughts raced through my head, the next beer was hitting my tastebuds. Dammit. A totally pedestrian dusty old pale ale. Sigh. 

Auburn Alehouse American River Pale Ale

Appearance = 3/5

Pale gold with a touch of orange. Nothing stands out. 

Smell = 3/5

Every IPA smells faintly of citrus, this one adds a little grain. 

Taste = 3/5

Yes, you get some of the lemon. It adds a bit of grass and grain, maybe. But it's all hops, and in that piney / dusty way that started craft beer and isn't current. If you're going to go up against the giants of yester-year, you're going to have to bring a little more than a hit of grass and grain to the party. 

Feel = 3/5 

Light with a crisp finish, but some malty thickness. 

Overall = 3/5

I deserved this. Because, after I'd made such a big deal out of giving up on the first one, I got a completely non-descript pale ale. It was too inoffensive to repeat my act, plus giving back the first was an exhausting act after a while. All that thinking, and talking, and then writing, all about giving up on a bad beer. And then the next beer I got wasn't bad, but if I was really sticking to my guns, maybe I should have given that one back, too. And then we'd *really* all I agree I was a douche. Because come on, that's a perfectly acceptible pale ale, man. (I ordered a Firestone Walker Stickee Monkey next because what the heck.)