My mother always told me not to give advice when it’s not asked for. But she died before I had a blog, so I’d like to share some advice with you.
When you’ve been drinking craft beer as long as I have, sometimes it’s easy to get into a rut.
I go through periods where this beer or that beer is my “go to.” I get too comfortable with the routine. That’s bad, because it can lead to boredom, and craft beer is not boring! Sometimes I even have to take a (short) break from beer. That’s when I’ll turn to a Manhattan made with OYO bourbon. Even a vodka tonic will wake up my palate.
We Columbusites are blessed. There are a staggering number of microbrews we can now get that are fresh. And local. To combat “tastebud apathy,” I have come up with a few suggestions for injecting some new life into your craft beer experience.
Take a Couple of Days Off As I said, sometimes you just have to give your palate a rest. When was the last time you ordered a single malt? Or a glass of hearty red wine? Is it heresy to suggest a plain glass of ginger ale on the rocks? Last week, I had my first ever single malt mixed with vermouth and bitters. And I liked it. Mind blown. Did I ask someone if I was supposed to? A couple of days off is all it takes for everything to taste fabulous again. Think the Wizard of Oz when the color turns on.
Drink Local As much as I love many of the craft breweries from around the country, I HEART our local craft scene. How many microbreweries do we have in this town now? A lot. Try some of the new ones. Rediscover some of the old ones. There is such a diversity now that it’s a shame if you don’t try ’em. I do.
Drink Real Ale Don’t turn your nose up at that cask being drawn by a beer engine, or that firkin sitting on the bar. Every real ale is an Adventure with a capital ‘A,’ just like Alice in Wonderland’s. Softer notes, low carbonation, dry hopping. That’s just some of the forks in the beer road. Ever had a nitro? Really, never? We almost always have one at the ‘House. Right now, it’s barrel-conditioned Saint Joan’s Revenge, infused with Madagascar vanilla pods. They don’t make this stuff in Saint Louis, do they? Celebrate it. If you’ve never had a cask-conditioned ale, you know why you should? Because it’s awesome! And fear not the firkin. It’s where we try our out-there stuff.
Try a New Beer Every Week Yeah, I know. You might order something you don’t like. So what? It’s about the adventure, not the dead-end. Every new experience makes you that much more, uh, experienced. It will make your favorite stand out that much more. Get together with your friends for the express purpose of going out and trying something new. Just like when panning for gold, you’ll go a long time before you strike pay dirt. You’ll never find your next gem if you’re not mining, though.
Introduce Someone New to Craft Beer Don’t be greedy. Share your knowledge. Someone turned you on to craft, so return the flavor. But please don’t do it as a beer snob. No one likes a know-it-all. And don’t turn your nose up at someone who’s drinking a beer you haven’t had since 1997. Everyone starts somewhere. Usually with the cheapest stuff they can find. You left that station and so will they, as long as they don’t think you’re an a**hole.
If we stayed in a rut here at the ‘House, we would have never branched out into Belgians. Or multiple styles of IPAs. We would have never researched how to make nitros. We would never have put our ale in a bourbon barrel. Shake that tendency of same-old, same-old. It’s good for your taste buds. It’s good for your life.