Beer is the new wine.
False. In fact, it could not be further from the truth.
People have been brewing beer for centuries, and craft beer is not a new thing. It is, however, now getting the respect and appreciation that wine has been getting for decades, and that it deserves. And chances are, if you love good wine, you will love good beer. The two have a lot in common besides alcohol content. Both have a world of styles and types that are completely unique from the next, both can truly change and complement a meal, and both are meant to be savored.
Entering the World of Craft Beer
If you’ve only had mass-produced commercial beer and your idea of different styles of beer is either Miller or Bud, than it could be slightly intimidating trying to get into craft beer. Here are some tips on how to break in:
Visit breweries. There is no better place to start than where the beer starts itself. Heading to the source can teach you a plethora of knowledge on what goes into the brewing process and the inspiration for certain beers. The best part about breweries is that you’ll be able to try the freshest samples of the beer and take a tour of the facility.
Attend a tasting. Going to tasting events allows you to sample numerous different styles and types of beer. After each beer, take note if you like it or not. Go one step further and jot down what you liked and what you didn’t like about it.
Ask for help. It sounds simple, but this is a vital part of discovering what types of beers you like. Whether you’re at a restaurant or bar that has an impressive beer list, a store with an amazing beer selection, or even a brewery, there is an expert nearby waiting to help. You can describe flavors you like and dislike, and they can help you navigate to your new drink of choice.
Learn the ropes. Just like wine, there’s a lot more that goes into beer drinking than just popping the cork. Each beer has a proper temperature it should be served, a place it should be stored, and a uniquely shaped glass to drink it from. These factors do influence how you taste it, so learn the best way to try it out.
Have a beer tasting party. Invite your friends over and ask them to bring a certain style of beer. If everyone brings something different, you can all sample a large variety of beers. Besides being cost efficient, it can also be less intimidating trying new beers and learning about them amongst friends at home rather than at a bar.
Things to Keep in Mind
Take a look at the beer. The same way you look at your glass of wine and give it a swirl before drinking, the same goes for beer. Before you even take your first sip, take a good look at the beer. Note the color, carbonation level, and how cloudy it is.
Stop and smell the beers. The scent of the beer is the biggest impact on how you’re going to taste it. That is why you’ll notice some glasswear has a big mouth as to open up the aromas of the beer.
Savor the flavor. To really get a true taste of the beer, take a sip, let it sit on your tongue, and then swallow. As you get more familiar with beers, you’ll be able to identify the amount of bitterness, acidity, sweetness, and malty characters. You’ll also be able to see if you can taste the alcohol.
Pace yourself. This might sound a little juvenile, but when you’re just staring to drink craft beer, you have to drink them differently than you’d drink a Miller Lite, for example. Miller Lite has 3 percent ABV (alcohol by volume), while you can come across beers with 15 percent ABV, and you may not even realize it.
Try beer with food. Just like wine, beer can really compliment and enhance any food. Pairing beer with food is pretty objective, and there truly aren’t any rules. For example, with a spicy pasta dish, you can choose a refreshing, subtle beer like a pale ale that will tone down the heat. Or you can choose an IPA that can enhance that spice even more.
Wine to Beer Options
Next time you’re reaching for that wine glass, stop. Opt for a beer instead to see if you can work it into your repertoire. Here are a few suggestions:
If you like a fruity, refreshing Shiraz, try a Lambic or other fruit beers.
If you like a flavorful, but mild, Pinot Noir, try an Amber Ale.
If you like a sweet Moscato, try a Sweet Stout.
If you like a bubbly Champagne, try a Biere de Champagne.
If you like a bold Cabernet Sauvignon, try an Indian Pale Ale (IPA).