Bar Beat

A Chat with John Stanley of Hans' Bier Haus

"I don't really work here anymore," says John Stanley at Hans' Bier Haus as he pours me a beer. "I'm hopefully just picking up tonight. This is only the second time I've set foot in here in about a month, as a bartender, at least. I worked here about a year and a half, but I'm just in a different place in my life." Stanley has gone from a life behind the bar to using his music degree--he has a master's from Rice--to give private lessons at several area schools. "I went to Rice, I play bass trombone, I like beer--I'm pretty much a walking stereotype."

"Don't get me wrong, it's a good gig," says Stanley between orders. "It's better than the Tipsy Clover or something where it's fast, fast, fast all the time. No mojitos, no shots, no trendy this or that. People aren't here to get really drunk, they aren't high-stress most of the time. Hardly ever are there fights, and if there are, they break up real easy. We don't get the popped-collar people. Not a lot of macho, not a lot of attitude. Just people who want to have a good time and a few drinks."

"I know a lot about beer and I like beer a lot, so I'm pretty in my element. Although we used to have a lot more wines here too. Frankly, I don't know a thing about wines. I know there's white and there's red, there's rosé and some are sparkling. Luckily, people that are getting wine here know what they want usually. I do know a lot about beer though, and that usually makes up for it. I can generally talk to people about what types of beer we have and what they might like. That's fun. I like doing that. 'Do you like light beer or dark beer?' 'Do you like hoppy, bitter, sweet, fruity, malty, dry? All these different things. Or they'll give me a beer they like, and I'll try to come up with something that's usually better that they haven't heard of."

As for Hans' famous bocce court? "I explain it a lot more than I play it. My mom was in town for graduation in May--she kicked my butt, man! I work at one of the only bocce courts in Houston, I oughta be great at this game. But when I'm here, I'm back here, you know? We actually had a bocce tournament, which was great. We had a lot of people; it was a really good time. Plus we made a killing, that always helps. But it was a lot of fun, it's a really social game, good beer game, you can play with a drink in one hand."

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Sarah Rufka