Note: This is the 1st post in a 5-part series called Beer Newbie Missions, a guide on how to like beer.
Ready to start your journey toward enjoying beer? Let’s rock and roll…
In Mission #1 the goal is to find good beer, from now on referred to as craft beer, and to start sampling some. The place where you buy your craft beer is very important because at the end of each mission (including this one) I am going give you a shopping list.
We are going to call this place Home Base.
Home Base must meet 3 criteria:
- It is close your home – This is good for obvious reasons.
- There is a large selection of craft beer available as singles – Buying single bottles will allow you to sample more beer for your buck. Plus it sucks to pay $12 for a 6-pack of something you end up hating.
- The sales staff is knowledgeable about beer – Key in helping you make a selection.
You may or may not already know a place that meets all 3 criteria, and if not I’ll show you how to find one. We are going to use a feature on the website BeerAdvocate called BeerFly to find your Home Base.
Find a Beer Store
Follow these steps (click images to enlarge):
- Sign up for a free account at BeerAdvocate.com.
- Click on the BeerFly link in the left sidebar as shown below
- Enter in your City and State, then check the check box marked “Beer Store” to the right. I did an example using my hometown of Williamsburg, Virginia.
- Choose a beer store from the list as your first target. Notice I skipped over Farm Fresh and chose a wine store. The reason is because although Farm Fresh satisfies criteria #1 and #2, it is a grocery store and the sales staff does not have the expertise demanded by criteria #3, which is important. I’ve had very good luck with wine stores and they are a good place to start.
Meet your Beer Guy
So you found a beer store and are about to take a trip over there, but what do you do once you arrive? This is where #3 comes into play. You’re going to want to meet the staff.
Introduce yourself, shake their hand, and make them your buddy. Often the person behind the counter is the owner. They will prove valuable by helping you find specific beers, explaining them, and alerting you about fantastic new arrivals. Prove that you are a high-valued customer and they will even tell you about the rare beers that they get in but don’t put out on the shelves in order to save them for the true aficionados.
No lie, my beer guy knows me so well that he pulls from the secret stash in the back when a limited brew comes in. Yes, it makes me feel cool : )
Note: Beer guy not so friendly? Is it obvious he doesn’t know crap about beer? Get out of there because you deserve better. The first store you check out may not be the best. I encourage you to check out all of the ones in your area and discover which best meets all 3 criteria.
Beers to Buy
At the end of each mission I’m going to list the beers to buy. You’ll get these from your Home Base which is why finding a beer store is lesson #1.
Important info about getting started with craft beers:
You are going to drink some beers that you absolutely love and some that your taste buds will immediately reject. Everyone’s palate is different so I can’t show you a beer that I guarantee you’ll like.
What I can do is recommend styles that tend to be favored by people just getting into craft beer because they are lighter and more delicate. We are going to take a strategy of starting off with beers that are milder and thus more newbie-suited. As you get more accustomed to flavorful brews we’ll move into more extreme examples that are higher in flavor intensity and alcohol content.
Shopping list with examples. Buy one from each category:
- Pale Ale
- Wheat Beer
Don’t sweat it if you cant find the examples listed. Ask your beer guy what styles you are looking for and he’ll help you out.
- Make sure you pour the beer into a glass to fully release the flavors and aroma.
- Try to pick out individual flavors but don’t worry about taking notes at this point. Right now we’re just getting your palate used to different flavors.
That’s it for Mission #1. After you’ve completed it, check in by leaving a comment below letting us know how it went.