An Open (and slightly disgruntled) Love Letter to Moat Mountain
Dear Moat Mountain,
“Love means never having to say you’re sorry. “ Quoted from Erich Segal’s best-selling 70’s novel-tuned-movie, it means there should be mutual understanding and respect among those you love to the point where you do not have to apologize, and you have the freedom of being honest. So, I will try to be as unapologetic and honest as possible.
I love you. I love your tasty beers, your fun slogan “fear no beer”, and tongue-in-cheek catch phrase “we like big cans.” I love that you have phenomenal food to pair with your great beers. I love that you have tasty beers on cask in Portsmouth on occasion where I can get it easier. I love your home-base location, your décor, and that my kids love you too. They love visiting you after Storyland, and refer to you as the “place with the cool birdies on the wall that gives us an Oreo for dessert.” You are family friendly, and offer service with a smile. I thank you for that.
I love you so much, and yet I constantly find myself offering a disclaimer to all my beer-loving friends that ask about you. I always warn them of your disconnect. We always have good food, beer, and service at your place (that is almost always hopping with customers). You have established yourself well, and are highly successful. The disconnect comes from the lack of understanding or appreciation of your beer (or any beer?) from your front end staff. They are a well-oiled machine for sure—they do their job well. But for the beer lover who wants the whole experience, there isn’t much. Your staff serve well, but I don’t think it matters to them what they are serving. All they know is that the flight of beer comes in order to coincide with the beer menu, but there is not even a descriptor on the menu to make up for their lack of knowledge. Thank goodness for smart phones. But the food and beer were excellent, and we will come back for more!
I always (naively so) expect that servers at a home establishment will have more passion for their product than those serving at other bars, but this is not the case with you. I come to the mothership, yet you do not have a cask. You are loved and appreciated at places like the Coat of Arms in Portsmouth, where I enjoyed your Square Tail Stout on cask during Portsmouth Beer week, and caught the passion for you from your brewer, Scottie. This is in stark contrast to our experience in your home. When we explained to the bartender that we had our growler sitting around our house for a year, he still wouldn’t change it out for a new one. I’m not sure if this is policy or ignorance on the bartender’s part, but it shows disrespect for your beer—and it makes me sad! You deserve better!
Maybe your beer is white noise to your staff, who get to have it all the time or are unimpressed. It’s what I imagine a parent of a superstar being like at home. Jimmy Page’s mom is probably like, “Oh there goes Jimmy and Robert, practicing with their silly little band again. Honey, can you take out the trash?” even after being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I’m not sure what the story is. But after several visits to your place, it is always the same. Little information about your beer or story, but awesome food and beer. Done. Maybe you are fine with that, and I just have to accept it for what it is. But every year, during my family vacation, I hope for that one time there is someone with either beer knowledge, or brand loyalty that can give us a passionate take on what we are enjoying.
Because I love you so much, I am ever hopeful,