How much do you really know about the beer you drink? And why does it really matter? Probably a little and a lot, respectively. Mindful consumption, while on the rise, is far too low. The question at hand is not the why of it — knowing the ins and outs of the beer you buy and drink is always a good thing. The questions is what. What should you be asking and what should you know? Here are 7 questions you should ask your beer. Remember, only you can answer these questions. They type of beer you choose to drink is shaped by your opinion of it. And as long as you enjoy it, that’s all that matters. So grab a cold one by the neck and start the interrogation. If you’re not happy with its answers, don’t drink it.
And not just the brewer’s name. What kind of person are they? What do they drink? Where did they learn to brew? Brewers express themselves with the beer they brew. It says something about them as a person. It all seems a bit heady, sure. But in buying a beer, you’re supporting a person. Wouldn’t you like to know who you’re supporting?
While this question is a hard one to answer (especially with all the macro-brews out there) it is not impossible. Simply explore the beer around you. Small craft breweries are on the rise and chances are that wherever you are passionate people are pouring local brews. So take a trip, take a tour, try their food, and talk to the people closest to the process. Chances are you’ll find out some amazing things and learn further what you want from a beer.
Do you know what’s in your beer? Hops, malt, all that good stuff, sure. But what kinds of hops and malt? How are they used? How many types are used? How big are the batches and for how long do they ferment and condition? Maybe this information seems a little dry to the casual beer drinker. But knowing about the brewing process and how to identify and describe tastes and characteristics only refines your palate. If you can get past the heady language of mouthfeel, body, aroma and the like you will see what that knowledge does. It changes the way you experience a beer which, in the end, makes the experience leagues more enjoyable.
Go ahead, take a quick break from reading and do a little research on the staple macro brews. Alright, are you back? Chances are you didn’t find a drop of information about when their beer was brewed. With such large-quantity batches and wide distribution, the when of any given beer is a complete mystery. Canning and bottling technology allows for un-chilled beers to last for half a year. If there is an appeal to six-month-old beer, that too is some sort of amazing mystery.
Any craft brewery will be able to give you a brew date. They can probably give you the last half dozen dates. Even when they first brewed a beer. And you can be sure none of that fine beer is six months old. Craft and micro breweries either bottle, keg or can on-site or serve straight from their serving tanks. Or both, depending on their size.
The gist is, you like your food fresh, your laundry fresh, you like fresh air and fresh feelings — why compromise on the beer you drink?
This one’s the easiest. But it’s also the most important. There are breweries far and wide, around the world, and they’re not all careless macro breweries. And while you should experience the breweries beyond your boarders, patronizing local brew makers is good for your palate and your economy. Insulating dollars spent directly benefits the businesses and people around you. It creates less reliance on economically and ecologically expensive transportation. So, keep it local — you’ll really be helping yourself.
Was your beer crafted from a family legacy? Was it a whim gone big or the passion of a craftsmen come to fruition? Does the brewer do it for the money or the love of the beer? Are they committed to keeping brewing traditions alive or constantly pushing for novel recipes, tastes and techniques?
It all comes down to your particular preference. But mindful patronage, in the end, really benefits the one person who matters most, you! Spend your money, tell your friends, and your favorite brewery will have the support it needs to brew more and better beer.
Admittedly this one is on the hokey sentimental side, but if you’ve never thought about it, it may change your mind about the beer you drink. Who your beer is made for says a lot about the beer.
Your local craft brewery will make exciting, adventurous beers like you’ve never tasted. And the macro breweries, making beer for the masses will produce something that never changes and never surprises.
So, what do you want out of your beer? What do you know about it? Explore a bit deeper and you may find a new favorite.