3 things I learned from Responsible Beverage Service Training (RBS)

A couple weeks ago I took the Responsible Beverage Service Training (RBS) class. The class covered the effects of alcohol on the body, detecting underage customers, and server responsibility. So now I have the Responsible Beverage Service Training certificate! Here are some things I learned from the class.

Photograph of beverages on a table.

California doesn’t require the training, but many local municipalities do

Sun Street Centers provided the class for $25. Sun Street Centers is a non-profit organization aimed at preventing alcohol and drug addiction. They contract with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control as part of their RBS Training Provider Program. The certification lasts for 2 years. California does not require this training for employment in the alcoholic beverage industry, but many local municipalities do require it. Check with your local agency to learn the requirements for your area. For training in your area, search the internet for “Responsible Beverage Service Training.”

Carbonation causes alcohol to be absorbed faster, while high alcohol content causes it to be absorbed slower

A carbonated beverage goes from the stomach into the intestines faster than a non-carbonated beverage. So a carbonated alcoholic beverage like beer, or a cocktail made with soda water, will make the person feel the effects of alcohol sooner. Meanwhile, higher alcohol content irritates the stomach, so the body makes a mucous lining, which slows absorption. Keep in mind that higher ABV drinks have more alcohol, so don’t think you can serve a customer a couple 20% IPAs and she won’t get drunk.

A bartender can be held liable for a customer’s DUI

Other states could be different, but in California, there are 3 types of liabilities concerning alcoholic beverage service:

  • Administrative liability. The alcohol licensee can be held accountable for responsible beverage service.
  • Criminal liability. The individual server can be held accountable for serving alcohol to a minor, allowingafter-hours drinking, and other violations.
  • Civil liability. An injured party can seek compensation from the licensee and the server, even if the damage happens after the customer left the bar.

Neither judges nor anybody else want a drunk driver passing the buck for their own actions. So realistically, a server isn’t likely to get busted for a customer driving under the influence. However, we do have a duty to monitor our customers’ consumption of alcohol and make sure everyone is drinking responsibly. Perhaps this explains why the guy at the door or the bartender is sometimes so uptight about checking IDs and cutting off that slobbering drunk.

To learn more about beer and to enhance my resume, I’m studying for the Cicerone Certification Program, Certified Beer Server exam. I have a separate site, Beer Exam School, where I’m documenting my studies. So in just a few weeks, this information will be covered there in more detail.

The information covered in the RBS training is mentioned in the Certified Beer Server syllabus, but they don’t have any study links for it. They defer to other providers of this class. So search online for providers in your area.

Do you have any stories about irresponsible drinkers? Tell me about it in the comments below.

In the next post, I’ll write about why I want to start a brewery in Monterey, California.


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    Drinks beer, quit his job, planning to start a brewery. I try to write every week about something in my life relating to my pursuit to start a brewery. Topics include: entrepreneurship, beer, leadership, and productivity.