Liverpool’s Bierkeller venue is so close to being perfect; a venue that has so many positives, but one huge, unforgivable negative – the door staff. They are hostile, over-zealous, rude and intimidatory. Couple this with the Bierkeller’s entertainment policy, which is superb, and you have a mutually exclusive set-up, which borders on the hypocritical.
Let me explain: I had arranged for my best friends Stag Night party to start at the Bierkeller. I’d booked it weeks in advance for 23 of us to arrive between 7:30 and 8:00, sitting down at 8:00 with a free drink on entry, a keg of beer on the table and a dedicated waitress service (remember the dedicated bit) – all at a non-inconsiderable expense. So, being thoughtful, my best friend and I arrived at the Bierkeller early to meet and greet everyone on their arrival only to be “stared out” for want of a better phrase by the two door-man, bearing in mind, we were stone cold sober, smartly dressed and in a happy, buoyant mood. Once we got in, we were told to go back out to the front and get our tickets, not asked, told. So, back to the front. The manager was there, surrounded by the door-staff, who I think I’ll refer to as Ape 1 and Ape 2. Ape 1 was looking out, eyeing up the lads for a fight, and the girls for cheap look. Ape 2 was trying to remember to breathe and not fall down. The manager, in fairness, was great. Gave us our tickets, envelope of passes and wished us a good night. Ape 2 was trying to remember to breathe.
Standing in the foyer, with our first drink of the night, we spotted the first guest. My best friend (Liam)’s father. Then a couple more were spotted outside, being interrogated by Ape 1 who basically told them they weren’t coming in and that it was full. There were 50 people in there, maximum at this time. I was talking to Liam’s father whilst Liam went out and told Ape 1 that they were with us. Ape 2 looked at Ape 1. After a minute or so, Ape 1 remembered how to talk and said “I’m letting them in aren’t I!!!”, like it was our fault that he was grilling a group of 50+ year old men?
Not five minutes later, the exact same scenario. Another group were refused entry, until we went out and said they were with us. Again, hostility without provocation, it really made us question the whole idea of the Bierkeller at this point. I felt awful as I’d been the one recommending this place and so far it was completely ruined by the Apes. It seemed that they were either completely out of touch with what was going on inside the doors, or they were so slow, that they were lagging by around 20 hours and they thought it was full from the Friday night. Either way, Bierkeller need to address this part of their business, and quickly.
Once everyone had arrived, we went inside to the main area and took our seats. Our waitress, remember, the dedicated one? Bless her, she looked lovely. But that’s really all she did. She was hardly visible for the whole night and seemed to be spread across several groups, with us at the end meaning that we rarely got served by her, to the point where it was quicker to go to the bar. Nice girl, very pleasant but not the service we paid for. However, we all got our drinks eventually, and then the entertainment started, the Bavarian Hoppers (I think) were amazing, really working the crowd, creating the atmosphere. Urging everyone to get up and dance Bavarian style, drinking and singing; absolutely superb. But herein lies the next huge problem, the mutually exclusive policies of the door-staff and the entertainment-staff. The ages of our party ranged from 25 to 75, the majority were from 30-40, but everybody got involved in the spirit of the night, it was impossible not to. But, after a lot of up and down on the benches and clashing of the steins in multiple toasts, there would be some spillages from all tables on the floor. After an hour or two, we were stepping down from the benches when one of the guys who was in his late 50’s stumbled on the wet floor and accidentally knocked into a group of 3 people, they helped him stabilise and no harm was done, but not in the eyes of Ape 1’s over-zealous colleagues, who rushed in like Usain Bolt to not only throw out our stumbling friend, but the three innocent people he knocked in to. How the hell does that work? On principle, we decided that we’d had enough, and walked out en-masse. 23 of us walked out, and the Bierkeller basically kissed away around £1000 of revenue as were set to stay for the night. We effectively forfeited our Keg deposit and Stein rental deposits because of the invisible waitress and the fact that we did not want an innocent member of our party waiting outside with Ape 1, whilst Ape 2 wondered what to do next.
We moved on to another venue, and the night continued to improve, giving my friend the send off he deserved.
If you can get in to the Bierkeller, do it, but have a backup plan. If they have entertainment, stay seated and smile, anything else might see you ejected by the Apes. In my 35 years on this planet, and multiple nights out in venues across the world, I have never seen such poor door-staff. I know several door-man personally and the “staff” at the Bierkeller give the whole profession a bad name, which makes this venue the worse for it.