Monday, October 10, 2016

Pride and Prejudice and Beer

 The craft beer “boom” we are experiencing is wonderful for beer lovers everywhere providing greater variety of and easier access to craft beer. With this variety comes the struggle of choosing what to drink for both craft beer “connoisseurs” and those new to craft beer alike. Having access to a large variety of beer is a double edged sword. On one side you have a great selection for avid craft beer drinkers, and on the other an intimidating and often confusing array of beers to someone who is thinking about trying craft beer.

     As a craft beer lover who has been at it a while, I have tried a wide spectrum of beers and relish the chance to try something new any chance I get. This was not always the case however. When I first started to drink craft beer I only enjoyed beer that was similar to the rich savory foods and other drinks I enjoy such as black coffee. I drank only stouts, porters, and darker lagers and ales. I believe it is only natural for people to stick to something familiar while trying something new. The problem this can cause, just like it did for me, is once you have favorite types of craft beer you stop branching out. It is very important to know what your favorite types of beer are so that you can find and enjoy those kinds beers. However, it is equally important to constantly try new beers from different breweries for the sake of expanding what we know of beer and, as I have personally experienced, find a new beer that becomes a favorite from a style of beer you never even knew existed.

     One of my favorite parts of craft beer culture is sitting down at a bar or in a tap room and striking up a conversation with a stranger about beer. Just last week I spent several hours relaxing at Rotolos Pizzeria in Longview, Texas. The owner and bartender happen to both be fellow craft beer lovers and have the best selection in town of craft beer on tap. If a keg is getting low and they have a new craft beer they want to put on tap they will let me know so me and my friends and try to “pop” the keg that is low and get the new one tapped. I ordered a couple pints of the beer that was almost out in hopes of getting the next beer on so I could try it. We always get excited to try something new and when the keg “popped” we got excited and they went back to switch it out. A gentleman who was sitting next to me at the bar after seeing our excitement turned to me and said, “I know this is probably a stupid question, but what does it mean when you pop a keg?” I was quick to tell him it wasn't a stupid thing to ask at all, and explained what it meant and why we were excited. We talked for a while after that about beer and where we were from and what we liked. Before long people around us overheard and joined in. I know a good amount about craft beer, but still have a million things to learn about beer. My favorite place to learn more is through conversations with brewers, owners, and patrons alike. Craft beer culture is a living breathing thing made up of the people who love it. As you try new beers from new places you will not only find yourself asking more questions from the likeminded people around you , but you will find yourself answering questions and education people who want to know more about the beers they drink or would like to try. The next time you're out enjoying a good beer on tap try to start a conversation with the person drinking next to you. Never talk down to someone who may not know a beer term or who has never tried a certain beer that is very common. Try to connect to the people around you and you may be the one who helps someone try and enjoy craft beer for the first time in their life.

     I implore experienced craft beer drinkers, and those new to craft beer alike, to try every new beer you can get your hands on! While there is truth to the general tastes and bodies of the many styles of craft beer; they can also be wildly different. I've had lagers that tasted like stouts, and IPAs that tasted like porters, and so on. Craft beer is categorised for the way it is brewed but they can taste wildly different from any other beer in that same style. I spent too long not even trying most IPAs and sours because I didn't think I liked any of them based on the one or two I had before. We all have prejudices against different types of beers based on our own palates and favors we like, but don't judge all beers within any group, or even brewery, based on a few.The more beers you try the harder it is to keep track of which beers you have or haven't had as well as how much you enjoyed it. I personally use the app Untappd which is free to catalog my beers and rate them. It is a fantastic tool, and has enhanced my craft beer experience. Don’t let your pride get in the way of trying a new beer just because you think you may not like it. Just remember your favorite beer might be the next one you try.


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