With the explosion in the craft beer scene over the last few years, sometimes things can slip through the cracks. It is sometimes difficult to determine what beer is what as a consumer and especially difficult to determine whether or not a bar or restaurant is taking care of their beer. To be on top of these things, establishments have to be on top of their game. It is the consumer, after all, that may unwittingly suffer from their shortcomings if not.
There is now a brand new agency that is addressing these issues head on. The Better Beer Society, the brainchild of Rob Shellman, was created to do exactly what its name suggests, make us a better beer society.
The company is going about the task of improving the Twin Cities’ world of beer on multiple fronts. BBS offers beer education and support to all levels of our three-tiered alcohol system, representation to small microbreweries that don’t yet have the need for distribution, and education to consumers.
Shellman, a Certified Cicerone™, is requiring that all of his agents are either BJCP and or Cicerone certified in order to maintain the high standard that he has set for the organization. These agents will consult with bars, restaurants, retailers, breweries, and distributors to improve the services and standards of those establishments. These experts have already shown their expertise in order to become certified, and most of them work in the industry. The potential collective experience that Shellman could pull from to build the BBS staff could prove extremely informative for businesses.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the BBS is geared for consumers. Establishments that serve beer can become BBS Certified by having agents examine the various aspects of excellent beer service such as line cleanliness, pouring technique, staff knowledge, selection, and even food and beer pairings for upper level certification. This may seem routine for some places, but it certainly is much more difficult than most people think.
Being the first type of certification of this type, Shellman was asked one question.
Q: What do you think will be the biggest challenge for establishments for their being certified?
A: “Honestly, I think a willingness to ‘change’ might be the biggest hurdle. I should clarify though, we’re not asking anyone to change their business model in any way, we’re simply trying to help them take the proper steps to better what they are already doing.
Once a retailer recognizes that there is a demand for this from consumers, it’s our hope that they’ll be just as excited and passionate about it as we are, and the stigma that beer still carries as being an inferior beverage will slowly deteriorate. This is all about giving beer the proper respect it deserves.”
Upon certification, these bars and restaurants will be given a BBS window decal (like a health department grade, but much sexier), to inform the customer of their higher beer standards. Eventually, Shellman mentioned, the BBS Certified establishments will all be on the BBS website.
This is an exciting time in the beer world for Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and it’s high time someone took the reins and set the standard. It will be a challenge for Shellman and his Better Beer Society, but the results could make the Twin Cities one of the best places in the country to get a properly served pint from a well educated bartender.