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Blame the Bartender?: A Unique View of the Greg Hall Peeing in a Beer Glass Story

Many folks are disgusted by the recent behavior of Goose Island brewmaster Greg Hall, who relieved himself into two beer glasses at Bangers and Lace in Chicago on Friday.  Baternder Matty Eggleston (pictured above) was left behind to clean up the mess, and decided to contact the Chicago Tribune and make a PR mess for Greg Hall to clean up.  It’s a pissing contest that Eggelston has clearly won.

There have been lots of opinions flying around the Internet about the incident, but none as unique as the one we received yesterday evening.

It came from Bob, a reader who hasn’t commented before.  His take on the whole thing is in alignment with most everyone else – what Greg Hall did was awful – but he takes it a step further, saying the bartender should have never come forward with the story.  His years of experience as a bartender taught him that it’s rare to get an apology for bad behavior, and that there’s a bond between people in the industry (bartenders and brewmasters alike) that should be respected, one that bartender Matty Eggelston broke.

Here’s what Bob wrote: 

What [Greg Hall] did is despicable. I tended bar in college and at night to pay for my masters degree, and this may be the worst act I have ever heard of. That said, I also know that I have never received a legitimate apology. Not for the time some clown smeared excrement on the bathroom wall, not from the imbecile who smashed a glass across my forehead for cutting him off, not from the clown who slashed my tires when I stepped between him and his girlfriend so that he didn’t land a punch on his girlfriend and go to jail. Never, not one apology,

When I read the brewmaster apologized I thought this was a first. When I read the apology, saw how heartfelt it was, I was really taken aback. It sounded like his celebration was more of a memorial, a force play by a major buyer, he got out of hand, and truly regretted it.

The problem I have though, is not his behavior in the end. He did apologize. Earnestly, I might add. My problem is that a code was broken, by both parties.

First, when you are in the business, respect your fellow bartender. Any mess, including tearing off labels and leaving them on the bar, is wrong. Urinating in a glass goes way too far.

When the bartender decided to forward the apology to the Tribune, and relay the whole story, my stomach dropped. Face it, people screw up. We have all seen it, and I know, reluctant as we may be to admit it, most of us have done it. Those who haven’t are exempted, but it was a mistake. He admitted it. He apologized. He didn’t lie and deny as every dirtbag I have ever encountered, he admitted, and apologized in a genuinely gracious way.

Once again no excuse for what happened. As things stand, however, I have a far higher opinion of the guy who sold his soul to Budweiser than the guy who sold his story to the Trib.

I used to stop here all the time. I know many of the bartenders. I have seen them do some pretty stupid things after hours. If Matty thinks he is in the right, I want him to know many of the loyal customers think otherwise. I will never go back there again, never brag about the place to out of town clients to draw them into what I thought was my favorite place, never lave 50 dollar tips at Christmas, and never bother them again.

Wrong is wrong, but two wrongs didn’t make a right. They made me empathize with someone I should despise. There are better ways to seek revenge. When I got the apology I would have instantly emailed back that I accept, see you tonight, you are on dishes. Instead, this clown emails the Trib. Done. Period.

Some have speculated that there might be more to this story than we know, and Bob’s take on the matter (as also noted by @BeerPoet) might support this notion. Of course it could also be that Matty Eggelston is one of Chicago’s best-known bartenders and feels he doesn’t have to take this kind of crap (or urine) while on the job.   Or perhaps he saw an opportunity to get his name in the paper and went for it. I dunno.

What I do know is that none of this would be happening if Greg Hall would have done the right thing and gone to the little boys room.  In the end, this is his fault, plain and simple. As Bob says above, Hall broke the code (if there is such a thing) the moment he pulled out Little Greggie and relieved him into a pint glass.  If I were in Eggleston’s shoes, I’m not sure I would be able to brush it aside and accept the apology either.

I’d like to thank Bob for lending his unique opinion to us on this.  Whether you agree with him or not, it’s opinions and insights like his that make the comments section of the site such a rich and vital place.  Thanks again, Bob.

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Categories: Beer

Author:Jim

Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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43 Comments on “Blame the Bartender?: A Unique View of the Greg Hall Peeing in a Beer Glass Story”

  1. April 13, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    I commented on twitter but I understand Bob’s take about an unwritten code and this seems to have been handled poorly on all accounts. However, I feel the bartender should be blamed for a reason not mentioned … bartenders should realize when one has had enough to drink before something stupid like this happens and in this case it appears Greg should have been cut off (wasn’t there to no for sure but it sounds like he was pretty wasted). Therefore, its the bartenders fault for not cutting Greg off, a person’s stature doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be cut off when they have had enough to drink.

    • April 13, 2011 at 9:59 am #

      I mentioned that earlier, too… there is definitely a responsibility on the part of the bartender to keep the consumption under control… but I also know from experience how hard that can be, especially with regular customers… you do not want to piss them off bu cutting them off, but at the same time, you need to be the sober adult in the room…

      that said, the ultimate responsibility lies with Hall, and “being wasted” is no excuse or defense for what he did.

    • April 13, 2011 at 9:59 am #

      It looks like Bangers and Lace is a pretty busy place, so if Hall can hold his liquor (at least until he releases it into glassses) it could be that he was served by a rotation of bartenders who really weren’t paying that close attention to his state. Or perhaps someone else was feeding him beers and Eggleston just happened to draw the short straw and get the warm glasses.

  2. April 13, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    I think it also bears noting that none of this would be getting talked about very much (if at all) if the recent news about AB acquiring Goose Island had not been still so fresh in everyone’s mind. It is also a double edged sword, with the buyout being offered up as an excuse or at least partial explanation for Hall’s reprehensible behavior.

    That said, I can see Bob’s point. Why would Eggleston go to the paper with this story? Is he secretly exacting revenge on Hall for whatever part – perceived or imagined – he played in the buyout? Was it a knee-jerk reaction to a deeply offensive action? Or is there, as you suggest, more to this story than is being told.

    • April 13, 2011 at 9:57 am #

      The more I think about it, the more I feel Eggleston saw an opportunity to get his face in the paper. Or that Hall has been a problem in the past. Or maybe this kind of stuff gets shared with papers all the time, but they don’t report it because it’s not that newsworthy – unless you brewery just made big news by selling to a major player.

      So I guess the more I think about it, the less sure I am of anything.

      Hmm. Carry on…

  3. johnking82
    April 13, 2011 at 10:01 am #

    Even if Mr. Eggleston hadn’t contacted the Trib, I am sure it would have made the news some route either via Twitter or Facebook…nothing is safe from the public eye anymore.

    I agree and disagree with Seth, yes bartenders need to to understand individuals cut off points, but I’m not for sure if it takes 3 or 13 beers for someone to get the nerve to piss in a pint.

    • April 13, 2011 at 11:31 am #

      Yeah, I don’t think I’d ever get to the point where I’d think peeing in a glass at a bar is okay.

  4. April 13, 2011 at 10:10 am #

    I get the impression that Matty pursued the avenue he did from a feeling of “enough’s enough.” I’m sure all bartenders are sick of the infantile behavior seen every night in bars across the world, and I’m positive that they’ve seen things far worse than what Hall did (although it’s got to be high on the list). If it was some frat boy who did the deed and Matty went to the media it would be buried, if published at all, and most readers would get an initial chuckle and put it down as shenanigans. The fact that a brewer involved in a high profile deal with a beverage giant did the deed allowed the news to get out. And hopefully, for everyone to think twice before doing some inane act the next time they’re out drinking. I played in bands in my youth and would see similar crap from patrons on a nightly basis, crap that would have to get cleaned up by the bartenders, each and every night. Wouldn’t you want to get a little comeuppance after seeing that day-in day-out? As far as I can tell, Matty isn’t trying to gain anything financially from this affair, and as long as that’s not his motive, I say more power to you brother.

    • Don
      April 13, 2011 at 10:18 am #

      By the same token, Will, don’t they sign up for this when they choose to tend bar for a living. Maybe Matty is getting burned out and needs to consider a career change.

      • April 13, 2011 at 10:41 am #

        While I agree that it’s all part of the job, I also think that the increase in douche-baggery from society as whole has to be taken into consideration. In the past incidents like this were the exception, not the rule. And while more of the public is better informed now than they were in the past, and stories like this get more widespread coverage, I know from experience that these kind of situations are becoming increasingly more widespread, not just better publicized. Any spotlight on rude behavior, and the implications of it, will make people think twice (I hope).

        • Don
          April 13, 2011 at 11:54 am #

          I think we are both agreed that the overall level of bad behavior has increased to terrible levels in the US. I’m not sure the cause, but there is no denying that people are doing stupid hurtful things, and for the most part getting away with them. Sounds like this might have been a straw that broke ol’ Matty’s back.

        • April 13, 2011 at 11:57 am #

          Then again, maybe we’ve always been selfish idiot, but now we’re selfish idiots with camera phones and Twitter.

      • johnking82
        April 13, 2011 at 10:44 am #

        Here is a philosophical question to think about. Which is the most unethical?

        Hall gets sh*tcanned, pisses in two pints, waits in car for girlfriend, then she drives him home.

        Hall gets sh*tcanned, doesn’t piss in two pints, but drives home.

        The latter of the two happens about a million more times than the prior, but isn’t viewed as disgusting or vile.

      • Matt M
        April 13, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

        I fail to understand your logic. So we shouldn’t think taking a dump on somebody’s face is disgusting and vile because it happens less than people driving drunk? What about rape because that happens less than driving drunk as well.

      • April 14, 2011 at 9:18 am #

        “Maybe Matty is getting burned out and needs to consider a career change”

        He should’ve popped the Emergency Exit and gone down the Big Yellow Slide

        • April 14, 2011 at 9:21 am #

          That would be ironic – he becomes a flight attendant!

  5. Don
    April 13, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    God, I love our followers! I bet there were over 100 blogs that have reported on this story and I will bet not one of them got such an inciteful comment as the one Bob left us last night. What perspective he was able to bring to all of us. Thanks Bob, and thanks to all members of the Beer and Whiskey Brothers community. We’ve said it before but it bears repeating, it is all of you that make this a great site. thanks for reading and contributing.

    • johnking82
      April 13, 2011 at 10:33 am #

      I think Jim has a lot to do with it, oh, and bears.

      • April 13, 2011 at 10:42 am #

        Bottles and kegs and bears, oh my! 😉

      • April 13, 2011 at 11:34 am #

        We’re gonna have to start calling ourselves the Bears and Whiskey Brothers pretty soon.

        Maybe it’s time for a mascot…never mind..Don is close enough!

        • Don
          April 13, 2011 at 11:39 am #

          Yes, I’m feeling hairier than usual today.

        • April 13, 2011 at 11:42 am #

          Why, are you wearing a fur hat? 😉

  6. Carmen
    April 13, 2011 at 11:00 am #

    I see all sides. You shouldn’t do that, ever. That said, if you do get too drunk and do it, there is no taking it back, so your responsibility is to man (or woman) up and apologize, and do what you can to make it right. Seems like he did that. Now for the agreived party to turn around and get it published instead of accepting the apology, or saying “thanks, but please stay away now because you went too far” doesn’t seem reasonable either. You’re not making the pee go away. You’re not making your bar more popular. All you’re doing is trying to humiliate the guy who went too far and tried to make it right. I don’t like it.

    Summary: They’re both being douches, but at least one seems honestly repentant and regretful.

    • April 13, 2011 at 11:41 am #

      I agree that Hall apologized, but only after being caught. He left the bar and was in his car when Matty confronted him. Would the apology have materialized without Matty’s pursuit?

      Also, as Will says above, I think Matty’s seen enough douchebaggery to fill 2 lifetimes. Either this wasn’t his first run-in with Hall, or he saw that a major figurehead in the Chicago beer world was setting a horrible example and decided to call him out on it.

      While I agree that it might violate some unwritten code of honor, I could see how easy it could be to get pushed to the point where you decide to share the story.

      • johnking82
        April 13, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

        or maybe, it was Matty, in the library, with the candlestick!

        • Don
          April 13, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

          Or perhaps it was Mr Hall, at the wet bar, with the meat stick…

        • April 13, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

          Oof.

          In a good way.

          But meat stick? Really?

        • Don
          April 13, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

          What euphemism would you use? His “Gun”?

        • April 13, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

          There’s some middle ground between “meat stick” and “gun”, no? The fact that I can’t think of any is entirely besides the point.

      • April 13, 2011 at 1:56 pm #

        The guys in KISS would call it a Love Gun. 😉

        • April 13, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

          See Don? That beats your meat stick.

          Well that certainly didn’t come out right… 😦

      • johnking82
        April 13, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

        Tom Jones, in the bedroom, with the Sex Bomb!

        • April 13, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

          How does this always happen? And why are you always involved, John? And why does it always lead to bears?

          Oh yeah, that reminds me – John Candy, in the kitchen, with the bear claw.

      • April 13, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

        You guys are killing me. Thanks for the giggles. And Don, thanks for lunch! I’ll get you next time.

      • April 14, 2011 at 9:23 am #

        Someone said “Meatstick?”

        • April 14, 2011 at 9:32 am #

          I think we’re about the become the Bear and Meatstick Brothers!!

        • Don
          April 14, 2011 at 9:39 am #

          You would need to grow a beard, since obviously I would be the Meatstick Brother!

        • April 14, 2011 at 9:45 am #

          I’d go with “meatball” before “meatstick” Don.

        • Don
          April 14, 2011 at 10:10 am #

          As long as there is “Meat” in the title, I’m good with it.

        • Don
          April 14, 2011 at 10:10 am #

          Well, now that I have had my Phish fix, I’m good for the day! 🙂

    • Matt M
      April 13, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

      So if the bartender didn’t go to the paper is the alternative calling the cops? It would have made it to the papers anyway and he would have a criminal charge to face. If you’re saying that a sincere apology was all that was needed to make this go away then I disagree 100%. He pissed in their barware and there are consequences. It’s just like raising a toddler, if there aren’t consequences to inappropriate behavior then they learn they can act that way without repercussions. See almost any young celebrity or athlete out there that acts out… they get away with it and continue their obnoxious behavior.

  7. April 13, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

    I’m a little late to the party but no worries I used the restroom before I got here. I’ve been to said bar and it’s decent. Small but tasty food and some pricey but good beer. Anytime you put someting like this in the paper it’s no longer about the incident but about the individual. LOOK AT ME! You can justify it anyway you want but as soon as you go public your the one demanding attention. While Greg is an idoit for doing said deed Matt is getting the publicity he desired. He caught him, got an apology and then published it. Just be careful Mr. Eggleston the next time you do someting stupid. Don’t be mad when it gets posted on youtube.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. IN DEFENSE OF GREG COOK « Aleheads - April 13, 2011

    […] than Egglestone’s cushy gig, the bartender felt his tale of woe was newspaper material. Commenter “Bob” of the enjoyable Beer and Whiskey Brothers felt that Mr Egglestone’s actions constituted a breach of the bartender code; I’m inclined to […]

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