I made an error. I recommended a beer. Someone trusted me enough to ask me my opinion, seek my advice, and I gave it. The back story is simple enough. I was sitting at my favorite writing place. It has many craft beers on tap. The wine selection is excellent. The food is perfect. The service is outstanding. Because this location has everything I need and more things than I could want, I drive over, carry my things in, flip open my laptop, greet the staff, and they take care of all of my food and drink needs. I get more written here than anywhere else. I love it. I’m not big on beer. I do occasionally partake, but even the lightest beers tend to feel like a heavy meal to me. However, one day the staff gave me a sample of a crème brûlée beer. I fell in love. It was perfect for me in that moment. I could have crawled into that glass a happy girl. It also took me two hours to drink.
Enter the problem. One evening a gentleman sat down next to me. We got to visiting about the typical “what do you do for work” stuff. He asked me what I recommended. I showed him the menu, and mentioned my favorite beer…that wasn’t on the menu anymore. Where did it go? It was no longer on tap, but they had it in the bottle. The gentleman took home my recommendation. However, before he left he said, “I’ll think of you when I open this tonight.” That was my “oh crap,” moment. I had made a colossal error!
At this point, you may be wondering what I had done that was so bad. A person had asked my opinion, sought my advice, and I gave it; so what? SO WHAT?? Opinions matter. RECOMMENDATIONS matter. A LOT. When we give someone a solution to a problem, or any recommendation, we are giving our word. It means something. Any time we engage another person, we should always have their best interest above our own. We place our reputations on the line. I may like that beer perfectly fine. It may be my favorite product of the moment, but it isn’t for everyone, and it certainly isn’t one of those beers that “goes with everything.”
According to ratebeer.com Southern Tier Blackwater Series: Crème Brûlée Stout reviews, the beer should be served as a dessert. One reviewer stated, “I could not hardly drink this straight as it is so incredibly sweet. I added a dollop of vanilla ice cream, and it became one of the best floats I ever tasted.” Basically, it’s crème brûlée in a bottle. Good stuff for me as crème brûlée is a favorite desert of mine, hence the problem. I didn’t ask if he liked crème brûlée. I didn’t ask if he was eating anything with the beer. I didn’t ask if or what he might be eating prior. I didn’t ask if he likes stout. I didn’t ask if he preferred a lager, pale/light/dark lager, pilsner, brown ale, porter, or a witbier. Everyone knows the most common beer pairings are light beer for spicy food, brown ales for brown food, porters for heavier meals like stews, oysters go with stouts, sweet stouts (like my recommended) are best with desert or for desert, pilsners for seafood, and ambers for pizza. Ok, not everyone knows this, but my cicerone did. She told me. And I have this vague memory of him having a salad in his possession that he could have been eating for dinner. I have no idea what beer goes best with salad. I’m thinking a white wine depending on if the salad had a cheese component.
“Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.” Dave Berry
I haven’t heard back from the gentleman to whom I recommended my favorite stout. I hope he liked it ok. If not, he probably won’t ever ask my advice on beer again. Either way, I did him a disservice. The lesson is simple. Trusted advisors take the time to know their customer’s buying criteria. Before we recommend a service or product, we have a duty to understand the needs and goals of the individual and their organization.