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Jul 29, 2010 05:51 PM

No free sampling at Fredricksburg Brewing Company

My friend stopped at the Fredricksburg Brewing Company last week for lunch. The bartender asked him if he wanted a beer and my friend asked for a taste of the Pale Ale to make sure he liked it before ordering a full pint. The bartender poured him a 4oz glass and told him it would cost $1.50.
My friend asked if the bartender was joking and he replied, "No, we charge $1.50 for a taste".

Seems way out of line to me - I heard the beer wasn't any good anyway...

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  1. I think 4 oz. is WAY more than a taste. But I think it should have been explained to him ahead of time.

    1 Reply
    1. re: c oliver

      I have one of those little 2oz. measuring "cups" so I measured out 1, 2 and 4oz. One was clearly, again IMO only, a "taste," two was what I'd call a generous pour for a "taste," and four was a partial glass of beer. I think a bar would be nuts to give someone 4oz. as a taste. To me, having a taste of one means I might want to taste a second one. Still doesn't excuse not telling the customer ahead of time.

    2. Samplers at brew pubs of 4-6 varieties of your choice in about 4-ounce glasses are a lot of fun, and the $6/ pint your friend was charged seems reasonable.
      Was your friend looking for money for nothing, and the chicks are free? There is no free sampling at the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas, either.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Veggo

        true, but if that tender had pulled that shenanigan on me, I would have been calculating 15% of $1.50 instantly!;-)

      2. 4 ounce Samplers of all 8 microbrews at a local place in San Diego is ~$8.50.

        The only place I've seen free samplers is Gordon Biersch. Those are an ounce or less and meant to get you to sample a taste then order a pint. GB is also a chain.

        1. If my husband is unsure about a beer he hasn't tried before, he'll ask for a taste or the waiter/waitress will offer. He has never been charged and he's done this up and down the East Coast and West Coast. The general understanding is that you'll order a full pint if you like it, if not you'll get something else.

          Restaurants should charge for the flights because you are getting 4-6 differen't tastes at 4oz each which add up to at least a full pint. But to charge for tasting one beer seems like a "nickel and dime" tactic.

          Or, maybe they charge because they know their beer isn't good/customers weren't ordering a full pint after getting a taste so they started charging for the tasters to generate some revenue? :)

          21 Replies
          1. re: SeoulQueen

            I think there's a HUGE difference between a "taste" and 4 oz.

            1. re: c oliver

              Not sure what your point was, but based on experience, my husband has received "tastes" that range from a generous sip to a full 4 oz. The full 4 oz happen enough that we don't see it as extraordinary when it occurs. Maybe it has to do with the fact that my husband is very knowledgeable about beer and will often have chats with the waitstaff about their beer list before he orders.

              The OP's friend asked for a taste - the bartender could have given him 1-2 oz and not charged. At the least, the bartender should have told him the policy BEFORE pouring that 4oz.

              1. re: SeoulQueen

                My point was that I and it appears others think 4 oz. is more than just a taste. I'm not sure what you don't understand about that but let me know if I can explain further. And I and others have also stated that the bartender should have communicated their policy. What happens with one person and what the policy is and how it should be communicated are, IMO, totally unrelated.

                1. re: c oliver

                  So 4 oz is not a taste. The person asked for a taste. Why did he receive 4 oz then? I think that is their point...he didn't ask for 4 oz. He asked for a taste. You agree that 4 oz is more than a taste. I actually am not fond of free sampling myself, but if you do have someone asking for a sample, and your policy is no free samples, then i think you should tell your customer that we don't do samples, but we can give you a 4 oz glass for 1.50.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    how much would four ounces set back anyone? i'd happily pay for four ounces knowing there is substantial cost of brewing and serving good beer.

                    to grumble about being denied a freebie reveals quite a bit.

                    1. re: epabella

                      >>> to grumble about being denied a freebie reveals quite a bit

                      No. That is not the point at all

                      1. The OP asked for a taste, not 4oz
                      2. If there is a charge, the bartender should have said so

                      Therre are times when I personally don't want to be stuck with a glass of something I hate ... even 4oz.

                      The best would have been for the bartender to say that they don't offer tastes, but they have small samples for a reduced price.

                      1. re: rworange

                        if i wanted to taste a bigmac, i guess old mcdonald will quarter one? or maybe sample a pizza so i get a free slice at pizzahut? every little counts given the high cost of living today.

                        1. re: epabella

                          Actually both Mcdonald's and pizzahut near my last home in the US did give free samples on certain days. I always thought that was stupid because who hasn't tried a quarter pounder?

                          Sometimes, as the old saying goes, people are penny-wise and pound-foolish.

                          I wonder if the poster's friend actually bought another beer after drinking the 4 oz glass. Personally, I would have walked out and left the 4oz glass so they would have lost the beer and the money.

                          I know a few places that have built their businesses on freebies. This one bakery would give out whole scones, muffins and cookies. They just opened their second location.

                          Some Walmarts in Latin America even give out free booze tastes.

                          I didn't think the local Walmart did that in Guatemala. So far they don't but the other day I had an excellent sample of rum at Walmart ... about the size of a dixie cup ... for 1 quetzale or about 12 cents. If they had a smaller bottle I would have bought it. I may pick some up before I return to the US.

                          And ... even at Walmart they were upfront that a taste was 1 quetzale ... which is more than the beer joint did ... and this was on pricy bottle of booze ... a lot more than a beer.

                          1. re: rworange

                            There's a huge difference between a free sample offered by a business and a free sample demanded by a customer. It's rather telling that people keep trying to claim that they are equivalent.

                            1. re: lavaca

                              by the same logic, some people will probably order a tasting menu and demand it be free as well. could this be insight to personality?

                              1. re: epabella

                                A tasting menu would involve being handed a menu with the price on it. Trying strawman arguments don't work here.

                              2. re: lavaca

                                No. No one said they are equivalent. Please link or quote any part of this thread which says the customer DEMANDED anything.

                                The customer asked for a taste. Without being told there was a fee he was NOT given a taste but a 4oz serving.

                                I don't see anything telling about that or a reason for character judgements on anyone's part.

                                1. re: rworange

                                  You listed a list of examples of companies willingly giving things away for free to build business in the context of a thread about a customer expecting to receive something for free. I'm sorry if this wasn't your intention, but it looked to me like you were conflating the two concepts.

                                  1. re: lavaca

                                    I was responding to "if i wanted to taste a bigmac, i guess old mcdonald will quarter one? or maybe sample a pizza so i get a free slice at pizzahut? every little counts given the high cost of living today."

                                    Especially the latter part of that sentence. Smart businesses know that sampling ... free or low cost ... increases revenue ... unless you truly have a lousy product.

                                    I continue to think the backlash such as yours is regional. If almost every business gives tastes if asked and sampling is often encouraged, then a business with a different policy seems out of step with everyone else.

                                    I just moved to Guatemala and don't have the vibe yet, so I don't ask for samples. There are a lot of ice cream joints that I'd like to get a taste first, but so far no one offered, I haven't seen anyone else do it, and I'm not going to ask or feel deprived if I don't get a sample.

                                    On the other hand, certain places as I mentioned, do sampling. It is just their thing. I am certainly not going to walk into Walmart when I return to the US and start asking for booze samples. It just isn't done there.

                                    IMO, it just depends on local conventions.

                                    It has nothing to do with character or greed or whatever "It's rather telling" means

                                    1. re: rworange

                                      I live in a place where businesses regularly give out free samples of their products (such as my example in another post below), and I see nothing wrong with such a practice. My opposition is to the spread of the ice cream shop mentality, that every customer is entitled to request and receive a free sample before committing to a purchase. It's cute when you're eight, because nobody is going to say no to a little kid, but it's not cute when you're an adult complaining about the principle of having to pay $1.50 for something.

                                      1. re: lavaca

                                        I don't know. The issue for me was not telling the customer up front about the cost. The other being 4oz is not a taste. Seriously, if it is lousy beer, I don't want to be stuck with more than a taste.

                                        It would have been fine if the bartenders said they were sorry they don't offer tastes, but they do have 4 oz samples for a $1.50. Then it is up to me if I want to spring for the money and portion size or not.

                                        I just don't see the entitlement issue. Some people just feel that way, I guess.

                                        Also I read your other replies and it seems you are fine with just knowing the type of beer and losing out on the money if you don't like it. That seems to be the same for some people on the last thread I read about sampling ... ice cream. I mean, it's strawberry, for heavens sake, just buy the damn cone.

                                        But even the simplest thing can taste wildly different. It's just sliced white bread, for example ... but that can be anything from cheapo no brand white to master baker wonderfullness ... and many things in between. To some people variations of taste matter. Sometimes even the cost of a $4 beer can matter to a budget. Sometimes the calories matter. Some people don't like the principle of throwing out food (or beer) when they don't have to There's lots of reasons and not merely chalking it up to someone being childish.

                                      2. re: rworange

                                        "It has nothing to do with character or greed or whatever "It's rather telling" means"

                                        it's not like the bar enticed it's customers, the sample was REQUESTED by the customer - $1.50 is nothing to winge about.

                                        "If there is a charge, the bartender should have said so"

                                        there was no ill intent to make an instant sale just because the barkeep wasn't as UPFRONT as some would expect. read the OP and you'll see the bartender wasn't remiss pointing out:

                                        *My friend asked if the bartender was joking and he replied, "No, we charge $1.50 for a taste"*

                                        the customer could've turned down the four ounces.

                                        1. re: epabella

                                          Ah you are right. Your peristant replies have finally made me see the light.

                              3. re: epabella

                                This is a poor analogy, and I suspect you know that.

                                The bartender was out of line for pouring the 4oz without clarifying the charge with the customer. As someone upstream noted, a simple, "We don't offer tastes, but I can give you a 4oz sample for 1.50" would have sufficed.

                    2. Just to clarify - he was simply asking for a taste to determine if he wanted to order a pint. The brewpub decided a taste = 4oz. I believe 2oz would have done the job ;-)

                      Personally, I've never been charged for a "taste" in any of the pubs I've ever visited.