Are you an equal-opportunity drinker? Craft beer, wine, spirits, they can all be a way to enhance what you’re experiencing. Whether it be the food you’re eating, the company you’re keeping…you get the drift. But, if you’re not a craft beer aficionado, how do you know which craft beer styles you like the best?
Craft beer can be just as intimidating as wine or spirits. The Brewers Association recognizes over 3,500 craft breweries currently in operation in the U.S. and another 1,500 are in planning. That’s a lot of beer styles for you to choose from.
So how do you figure out what beer style is right for you? To put it simply…drink up. You won’t know until you give it the old college try. And, if you’re so inclined, follow these tips…
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Every palate is different
If you’ve ever been to any kind of beer, wine or distillery tasting and been told what you should be smelling or tasting…we hope it was prefaced with a qualifier or two. That’s because we all experience aromas and flavors totally differently.
Swirl, sniff. Swirl, sip
Any craft beer deserves the wine treatment. Pour it into a glass, swirl it around to release those aromas, then smell it. First, do a quick drive-by sniff to get oriented with the scent. Then stick your nose in the glass for a good inhale. So much of what we taste is through our sense of smell, so get in there and get some good whiffs before you sip.
Stop and think
Beer doesn’t have the stuffy stigmas of wine or spirits. So many people associate beer as just a beverage to down with a burger, or enjoy during a sporting event. Yet we’re not thinking about what we’re drinking. As you’re trying a beer, take a mental (or even written!) note on what you like and what you don’t like. Then, pull those notes out next time you have a conversation with someone about what beer style you should order or buy.
…Then eat and drink
Instead of eating and drinking separately, do it and think about it together. With palate-cleansing carbonation (as opposed to palate-stripping acidity), the inherent qualities of craft beer make it better with food than wine and spirits. The best beer and food pairings bring out the best in both of what you’re eating and drinking. So eat, drink, and be (oh, so!) merry.
This article was originally published in our Fall 2015/Premier issue.
Kim is the owner and publisher of Sass Magazine, as well as the owner of Sass Studios, a boutique graphic design studio in Frederick, MD. When not in the office, Kim can be found doing some of her favorite hobbies—reading a book, dancing, traveling, or playing with her rescued pitbull.