BY IAN MAKSIK In Albuquerque we’ve got beer, beer everywhere and lots of drops to drink. Contributor Ty Bannerman regularly reports on this local phenomena for ABQ Free Press in his “Beer Town” column. And some of us locals have a favorite watering hole. We often wind up in a place, à la TV’s “Cheers, where everybody knows your name. In ABQ’s macro vs. micro contest, I’ve found that micro/craft breweries and pubs are a winning choice. Even the best beer can be ruined by subpar service. Of utmost importance in the service of beer is a clean glass. Hand-washed and dried glassware is best for beer; machine detergents can ruin the taste and impact the foam. As in fine wine presentation, pubs ought to present bottled beer as a sort of beer ballet, emphasizing the romance of its service. Like fine wine, make sure bottle labels face guests when pouring. Patrons enjoy reading the label. Tilt an ultra-clean glass or mug 45 degrees and pour down its side to form foam when pouring from a bottle or keg; continue pouring down the middle until a one-to-two-inch head forms near the glass rim. As with wine, the lighter the beer, the lower the serving temperature. There are proper glasses for various types of beer. Do you use a mug, pilsner, goblet or snifter for stout, lager, ale or porter? Beyond its mere beauty, beer’s effervescence distributes aromas. As foam forms, dissolved carbon dioxide, which can make consumers feel overfull or bloated, gets released. Last week, I visited two of my “Cheers,” namely Quarter Celtic Brewpub (1100 San Mateo NE) and Nob Hill Bar & Grill (3128 Central SE). At Quarter Celtic, it was SRO, and the guests all shared two commonalities: a beer and a smile. McKeown brothers Ror and Brady have over 25 years of award-winning brewing experience. Ror Mckeown spent half his time table-hopping to check on guests, and the other half expediting orders near the open kitchen. Ror still made time to greet me with “slainte” (pron. slawn-cha), which means “health” or “cheers.” All the McKeown’s recipes boast at least a hint of beer. My favorite is the Shephard’s Pie, while one of my ABQ Free Press colleague reports that their Reuben is “to die for.” Check the Beer Board for the day’s special brews. At Nob Hill Bar & Grill, I observed owner Nicole Kapnison also expediting orders near their open kitchen. The upscale joint was jam-packed but she made time to discuss an event with a client standing nearby. Nicole’s father is renowned local restaurateur Nick Kapnison, who owns El Patron, Nick & Jimmy’s and Mykonos. While Nicole may have been born into the business, she does her own thing at Nob Hill Bar & Grill, where you can dress casually and dine elegantly. At Nicole’s "upscale joint," craft beers and cocktails are complimented by comfortably priced cuisine presented in a sophisticated manner.
Both indoor and alfresco seating is available while hip and romantic tunes soundtrack the experience. This Nob Hill eatery is the place for a first date or special occasion, whether social or corporate. Here’s a place that you can arrive at dressed in sneakers to receive tuxedo-level service; a place where upscale comestibles are served by friendly, smiling staffers. Nicole and I discussed her commitment to serving very special, limited-edition craft beers with her gourmet burgers; as evidence, Nob Hill Bar & Grill has been voted one of the top craft beer bars in America. That’s the hops for now. “86”
Ian Maksik is a Cornell Hotel School graduate and a former Hilton GM. Known as “America’s Service Guru,” Maksik has keynoted, lectured and trained owners, management and staff of hospitality facilities in 21 countries and at industry conferences. Contact him at (954) 804-5413 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The following blog post Hospitality: What’s the Hops? is republished from ABQ Free Press Blog