For years, people have looked to Tryst – the AdMo coffeehouse-lounge-bar of high standing and sibling to Open City, The Diner, and The Coupe – for coffee and cocktails, but beer was never a major focus.  It's not that the list was ever bad (in fact, it has improved in the past year or so); beer was simply less a focus than other liquids.

But times change.  Last week, we got an update on an updated beer program from Brett Robison, Head Bartender and Beer Dude ("I don't want a super-serious title"), who has been spearheading the movement toward craft.
The first thing you'll notice is a menu redesign. While the specific drafts aren't listed, the six taps skew American and always feature at least one nitro beer, one cider, one hoppy beer, one 'light' beer (light as in delicate, not as in 'lite'), and one 'special' beer that defies categorization.  Every week, Tryst highlights a new draft beer, which you can snag for $4 a pop from 4-7, Sunday through Friday. 

Robison wants to keep the taps approachable – when I last visited, they were pouring Troegs Sunshine Pils, Virginia's Bold Rock Cider, and the featured Allagash White – but he's committed to doing it right.  After taking a Micromatic course on draft line maintenance, Robison tore out and replaced most of the draft lines, recalibrated the temperature of his fridge, and committed to flushing lines every two weeks.

Then there are bottles, all of which are Belgian-style and grouped according to a scheme Robison developed for the casual craft fan. The idea is to demystify Belgian beers for Tryst's committed patrons, who might normally be put off by the beer-nerd nomenclature and retreat to a cocktail.  In the "Belgian-style Strong Ale" category, you have Trappist-style Ales (Dubbel, Tripel, Quad), Classic Strong Ales (Golden and Dark), and Modern Strong Ales (e.g. stout and IPA).  Sours (e.g. geuze and Flemish red) and Session Beers (e.g. witbiers, saisons) make up the "Belgian-style Cafe Beers" category.

To further draw out the uninitiated, Tryst now features a weekly Belgian-style beer happy hour every Friday night from 7 onwards.  All Belgian-style bottles are 33% off, bringing the price point down to a truly accessible level.  Robison hopes that the deal will empower craft newbies to open a few styles they'd never tasted (or pronounced) and find something that speaks to them.

If would-be drinkers still aren't sure which way to go, Tryst's servers are prepared to advise.  Several times, Robison stressed the importance of education, both of and by servers.  All of the front-stage staff is well-versed in the beer list; in the kitchen, printouts about new and upcoming beers festoon the walls.  The idea is for servers to know the beers rather than memorize their descriptions.  Robison inveighs against the idea of selling beer by script, instead encouraging wait staff and bartenders to sell beers based on how they tasted to them.  "I don't want anyone selling something they don't like", he says.