Let’s be honest: beer has typically been marketed and designated as a dude’s drink. But with the dawn of the craft beer movement, there is a beer for every palette. My Dad is notorious for trying new beer and has even dabbled in home-brewing, so I’ve picked up a few tips here and there over the years. Here’s what I recommend when venturing into the world of craft beer.
A beer flight is similar to a wine tasting only with beer. You usually choose about four different beers and they are served in small glasses on a wooden paddle. If you’re new to the beer-drinking scene, this is a great way to try various styles and figure out what you like before committing to a whole pint. I highly recommend ordering contrasting beer styles in the beginning, starting with light, mild flavors, and moving to richer tastes: a blond ale, a brown or red ale, an IPA (India pale ale), and a porter or stout.
Okay, so you’ve sampled a little bit of this and a little bit of that and figured out that you like Blue Moon with an orange slice. Or, maybe you really do have a taste for Michelob Ultra straight from the can. Hey, to each their own. Just because the beer aficionados you’re drinking with prefer fancy schmancy, doesn’t mean you’re in the wrong for liking what you like. You may find over time that your palette changes and you grow to prefer really hoppy IPAs (my personal fave) or you develop a taste for a rich stout (ie, Guiness). The beer world is only getting bigger, so sample all you want, but don’t be afraid to have a go-to.
Did you know there’s a doughnut bacon maple ale out there? Yeah, and a raspberry habanero red ale, too. There is some wild beer out there, so don’t be afraid to try! Even if you’re not in the mood for a flight, many breweries will let you have a taste before ordering. There are so many different flavors out there, ranging from coffee and smoked wood, to fruity and floral. My recommendation is to start light with a crisp and refreshingly fruity beer like a Sweetwater Blue or Dogfish Head Aprihop. You won’t be disappointed, especially in these sweltering summer months.
I love going for beer with my Dad because he will inevitably order something new and I always get to taste. He’s also really good at recommending beer he thinks I will like. Find someone you can learn from when trying new beer, or someone who’s just as curious as you are so you can compare notes.
A word of caution: craft beer is brewed with a higher alcohol content than that stuff you were drinking by the gallon in college. This can limit your beer tasting quite a bit. So, prior to a tasting, drink water like it’s going out of style, and HAVE A SNACK. No need to imbibe on an empty stomach when you can munch on yummy bar food like hot pretzels and fried pickles. Also, a lot of brew companies team up with local food trucks so patrons of the tap room can grab food right outside the door.
Another tip in beginning your beer adventure is drinking local. Supporting new and local brewers in your city is a great way to meet new people who know what their talking about when it comes to beer. Traveling this summer? Take time to tour a brewery where you’re vacationing . Many craft brewers are regional so you may be able to try a beer that isn’t available back home yet.
I hope these tips have inspired you to sit on a patio somewhere and have a cold one (I swear beer tastes better outside)! Here are some breweries and I’ve visited and enjoyed, as well as the beer I order on regular basis:
Anheuser-Busch – St. Louis, MO
SweetWater Brewing Co. – Atlanta, GA
Due South Brewing Co. – Boynton Beach, FL
Funky Buddha Brewery – Oakland Park, FL
Cigar City Brewing – Tampa, FL
Big Storm Brewing Co. – Odessa, FL
Mile Marker Brewing – St. Augustine, FL
Fermentation Lounge – Tallahassee, FL
Proof Brewing Co. – Tallahassee, FL
MY GO-TO BEER: