7 Things the Person Pouring Your Beer at Summerfest Won’t Tell You

Heed these tips, tricks and warnings from a veteran Big Gig beer slinger.

I know Summerfest is more about the music than it is about beer tasting. But a massive amount of beer is consumed during the 11-day run, which starts June 27. I spent 13 years slinging Summerfest beers at the Miller Lite Oasis. And during that time serving the masses, I learned a lot. Let me share a few simple beer tent rules/mantras that if followed can make Summerfest slightly better for beer pourers and beer drinkers alike. 

There’s no such thing as a free beer.

Don’t ask a Summerfest beer pourer for a free beer. At least a dozen clever souls ask for one each day. It’s no novelty.

Stacking cups isn’t cool.

Collecting empty beer cups underneath the beer you’re currently drinking isn’t necessary. The “tower of power,” “beer gauge” or whatever it’s called is both silly and structurally unsound after the seventh or eighth beer.

If you want less foam, try asking.

A little secret…beers are slightly foamy at Summerfest on purpose (kegs go further by foaming a few beers). But if you say please and ask the beer slinger nicely to fill it all the way up, most good pourers will oblige. Improper ways of asking are: “Don’t put no head on that beer,” “I’m paying a lot so you’d better fill it up,” “Fill it all the way up or I’ll punch you in the nose.” (I heard each one during my career.)

Patience is a virtue.

On crowded nights it can take a while to get a beer. Most Summerfest patrons understand this and wait patiently in line for suds. Those that get unruly run the risk of being escorted out by Summerfest security guards, who are some of the best in the business.

Pricing isn’t set by the beer pourer.

Whining about Summerfest beer prices to a beer pourer is like complaining about the cost of an airline ticket to a flight attendant. Beer pourers don’t set prices, they just abide by them.

Tip your loyal beer server.

A generous tip early in the evening will be remembered by those with tap handle savvy, and your next wait in line may not take as long. On busy nights, beer pourers work pretty hard, and they welcome even a couple of quarters as a sign of appreciation.

Never walk directly under the Sky Glider.

No explanation needed.




Dan Murphy has been reviewing bars for Milwaukee Magazine for roughly 20 years. He’s been doing his own independent research in them for a few years more.