I’m a fan craft beers for a lot of reasons. There are the different tastes and textures, of course, along with the different brewers and personalities that I have come to know like old friends. There is also an unexpected aspect that I think enhances my enjoyment, though: I feel like I’m constantly learning and being inspired. Instead of just opening a bottle of beer and drinking, I’m picking up new ideas and appreciations.
For some of you, this little bit of extra education might be beside the point. However, I suspect that a lot of craft beer lovers enjoy learning about the people, history, ingredients, and brewing processes behind their favourite drinks. With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of nine short things you can might want to try that may increase your love of craft brewing while giving you just a little extra knowledge and appreciation…
#1 Become a Craft Beer Student
Learning about craft brewing can be almost overwhelming. There so many different regions, flavors, and varieties of beer to learn about that it can take a while to even know what you are tasting. My advice would be to spend five or ten minutes a day looking up beer facts online. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll pick up in a short amount of time.
#2 Learn About Different Kinds of Brews
Having a bit of general knowledge about fear is great, but you can go a little bit further by learning differences between lagers, pilsners, ambers, and stouts (not to mention the other beer varieties). Sometimes, recognizing the different origins, ingredients, and brewing processes involved with each can help you pick out individual flavours or personal preferences.
If you try enough craft beers, you’ll undoubtedly start to grow an appreciation for a handful of favourite brewers. All of them have websites, and many have interesting stories about where they came from and how they approach brewing. In just a few minutes, you could learn something interesting about your favourite beer that you wouldn’t have otherwise realized.
#4 Visit a Brewery or Attend a Tasting
There’s nothing quite like getting the story – not to mention your first step – straight from the source. Lots of well-known breweries give tours, and samples, that can be a lot of fun for a craft beer fan. The same goes for tasting events, which can give you the chance to try many different beers in one sitting. Depending on where you live, you might be able to check out a tour or tasting without having to travel far from home.
#5 Get a Feel for Special Ingredients
There are some beer ingredients, like chocolate and pear, for example, that give a very distinctive taste. By trying these kinds of brews once in a while, you can develop the ability to pick them out. And, doing so could give you a better appreciation for what it takes to blend these flavours along with other ingredients. You might even end up liking a few of them!
#6 Feed Your Adventurous Side
My personal goal as a craft beer lover is to taste something new at least once a week. I won’t pretend I end up loving everything I buy, but I do enjoy the sense of adventure that comes with sampling a previously-unknown bottle or brewery. If you can learn to be spontaneous, it won’t be long before you can recognize many different beers and styles.
#7 Judge Some Bottles by Their Covers
We all know it can be a bad idea to judge books and beers by their labels, since we might not get what we were expecting. When you’re aiming to try some brand-new flavours, though, opting for the unexpected can be perfect. Once in a while, go to the store, grab something with a label that appeals to you, and make a point of trying it without worrying what’s in the bottle first.
#8 Try Seasonal Craft Beers
Lots of brewers come out with new beers in the summer and winter, both as a way to use fresh ingredients and to meet their customers’ demands. Sometimes, these beers can be amongst the best you’ll ever have. Don’t be afraid to try the newest and freshest bottle you can find.
#9 Brew Your Own Batch
Of course, one of the best ways to learn about beer is to actually brew your own batch. Don’t be surprised if it takes you a while to come up with something you really want to drink. Just remember that learning, experimenting, and even failing are half the fun. If nothing else, you’ll come away with more knowledge about what it takes to brew your favourite type of beer. Disclaimer: I haven’t brewed my own… yet. But when I do, I already know it’s going to be a dark beer.
In theory, enjoying craft beer is all about finding something you like and taking a sip. In reality, I find that the more you know, the easier it is to really appreciate the effort that went into a certain brew or recipe.
Do you agree? I’d love to know what kind of knowledge you’ve picked up that has only increased your love of craft beer. Let me know in the comments below or in social!