I began this article by asking some close men in my life, “Hypothetically…If I were writing an article on beer, what would be essential to include?” The following facts, tips, and tricks to enjoying your beer experience are a compiled result of their answers.
1) Beer is not just for college men and village drunks. With the explosion of domestic microbreweries, especially in Southern California, you have no excuse not to go with your sweetheart on a non-bar beer date. I certainly don’t speak for all women when I say that we enjoy beer as much as the guys…but I am coming across more and more non-tattooed-typ ladies who would willingly trade their “Two Buck Chuck” for a brown bottled ale.
2) Visit breweries. Pick up a local paper at your most hipster coffee-shop and scan the ads for craft breweries in your area. Most give free tours with a sampling of the beer included. To start you off, try Stone Brewery in Escondido, Golden Road Brewing in Glendale, Green Flash Brewing in Mira Mesa, and Alpine Brewing in Alpine.
3) Sip slowly with water in between and add snacks to savor the multiple flavors. Like a good wine, beers are starting to enroll the use of multiple senses in tasting. IPA’s are going to be “floral” or “hopsy” while dark stouts can be “smokey with a hint of espresso.” Consider pairing cheeses and crackers for munchies with other finger-friendly appetizers. Don’t forget to sip on that water between glasses as it’s easy to get dehydrated when drinking alcohol.
4) Start Light and move to Dark. If you’re interested in sampling multiple beers at a brewery, most will have a “flight” deal that allows 3-10 small glasses of your choice of beer. They will be served all at once, in ascending order of color, mimicking a pool’s chlorine test tube. Sip in this order from light to dark.
5) Making your own brew is infinitely more rewarding, but attention to detail is crucial. Like canning fruits and vegetables or making jams, successful beer making is highly dependent on the sterility of the instruments used and the order of cooking. Ingredients are added at specific time intervals to maximize the utility of all the ingredients. Home beer-making kits can be bought all around town. Start saving those empty bottles now to prevent having to buy them later.
6) Keep track of your favs. You can find molskine-type pocketbooks that are organized to help you record and remember your favorite beer tastings. Find these online or in most brewery gift shops.
7) Get in the culture loop. October hosts Denver, CO’s “Great American Beer Festival.” It also begins a celebration of Germany’s “Oktoberfest,” expressed in countless festivals all over the world. For the rest of the year, subscribe to beer-related social sites, such as LA’s “Eat:Drink:Play.”
8) Read up. Want to know more about buying beer, impressing a date, or both? Check out this website, one among many from generous beer-lovers.