Bar Tending & Beerspectives
by Matt Martinkovic
Brewsearch & Development - Northside Lounge, Manville NJ
Being that I missed Tap NY this year (sigh), I figured it would be fun to reflect on the last year
and write about how a year has seen so many changes with our bar, my work, and more beer.
Reflecting on my experience at Tap NY last year, once again thank you Kevin, it is quite
amazing how much we have grown. I believe that what I learned and the relationships I cultivated
from that experience not only helped me grow as an employee but also taught me about what
works to make a beer bar successful. One major example, hence my self imposed title as B&D
for the bar, stems from the event we hosted after TAP NY with Mendocino & Olde Saratoga
Brewing Companies. Had I not met Gaurav at that event I probably wouldn't know who either
brewery is. Without Gaurav's enthusiasm for wanting to really break into NJ and those breweries
tapping some really fantastic beer our event would not have been possible. Hey, that's what
comes with the brewsearch & development role and process.
Having said that, now I understand why our bar has grown and why our events are popular and
well attended. By reaching out and attending far off festivals through social networking I have
learned that beer event planning takes a little skill and great planning. When we introduced
Mendocino and Olde Saratoga to NJ (yup, 1st bar in the state to do so via tap takeover) I was
astonished by how many people were excited for new beer to try. And it hit me! Event planning
takes more than hosting a 3-5 course beer dinner. As a matter of fact I think that's quite boring.
If you're going to host an event with a brewery just make 2 or 3 food specials that pair with the
styles. I bet Natalie from Weyerbacher will agree with me on this. If you ever get the chance ask
her how our Weyerbacher Bahn Mi sandwich was(on two occasions). It even takes more than
just doing a tap takeover with a brewery and just slapping their beer on with no rhyme or reason
about style and theme.
I can remember after graduating from Rutgers I contemplated on how many courses I had to
take and that I thought were useless and some I even hated. Preferrably, the economics and
marketing courses. Go figure they are the predominant courses I actually draw a decent majority
of my work from. It is funny how some people think my degree didn't pay off because from their
perspective I am simply a bartender. I guess from their perspective I don't use my degree
because I don't work specifically in my field (Environmental Science, Policy, and Human
Behaviour). I worked in that field for several years and if you want to ask for depression I highly
recommend you getting a job in that field. It will work wonders for your mental health. Specifically
when you have to deal with government and wretched politicians. Sorry, for a minute there I lost
myself. What was I talking about?
Aahh, why our bar has grown through proper event planning and social networking. Right. So,
yes I have taken away some key ideas and practices from classes I previously thought usesless.
Since we hosted Mendocino & Olde Saratoga I have become more focused on events and
working with as many distributors and breweries as possible to create a wider array and options
pertaining to beer. Keep 'em guessing, keep 'em coming. I have learned that more options and
themes based on those options are key. For example, our next series of events pertain to beers
for the season or an idea based on the brewery name(s) (Epic Spring Fling with Epic Brewing,
UKONN Brew Night with Cavalry and Olde Burnside Brewing Companies, and soon enough
Brackish Brew Night with Great Lakes and Heavy Seas Brewing Companies). For further details
on these events visit beer boulevard and/or www.northsidelounge.com. Even my buddy Kevin
from the Taproom at Somerset Hills Hotel hosts event of this nature and they are always
All in all, when I look back on the last year I met really great people that led to TAP NY.
Ultimately that led to cultivating several great relationships and helped me grow into my position.
Hell, as stated earlier, it even made me reflect on certain courses in my life that I never thought
would be useful. All of these things culminate into why our bar has been successful and all the
more why I love my job and the people I get to meet by performing my job to the best of my
ability. Once again, thanks Kevin for not being able to go last year. Thanks to you I learned so
much and have been able to develop as the department I created: Brewsearch & Development
|Northside Lounge, 100 Brooks Boulevard, Manville, NJ 08835 908-722-7712
What's on tap at Northside click HERE
Matt Martinkovic is not only a recognized beer authority but a well known ecological writer whose
work has appeared in the The American Midland Naturalist (University of Notre Dame) among other
industry publications. He also has been an agricultural consultant on, of course, the growing of hops.