There is much to be happy with in the beer world right now. Small independent breweries are riding a wave of popularity and success, the likes of which have not been seen for many years. Drinkers are being supplied with the fine produce they crave and pubs are beginning to work hard to get people off their sofas and back to the bar.
So, as an antidote to my rant list, here are ten marvellous beery things to tick off in 2013 to make you a happier/hoppier, more experienced and knowledgable beer drinker.
Learn how to home brew
Nothing gives one a better understanding of what makes a good beer than making it yourself. Your first couple of goes might be undrinkable swill but a little bit of reading and perseverance will get you an amazing, cheap load of booze which you’ll be so proud of you’ll post constant doting pictures of it on Facebook as if it were your own newborn child. Join your local home brewing club to get some help and make new friends. Who knows, it might even lead to a new career.
Do some work experience
Brewery tours are great and if that’s all you’re comfortable doing then that’s fine. But you’d be surprised how many brewers will be quite happy for you to spend the day with them brewing up a storm (and indeed grateful for the help). Just find a brewery local to you and send them a polite email saying you’re interested in getting some experience of commercial brewing. If you’re used to a desk job then it’s quite an eye-opening experience.
Go on a beery pilgrimage
Few places in the world have a stronger brewing heritage than some of the Belgian abbeys. The Orval abbey in Florenville, for instance, has been brewing beer on site for around 400 years. The monks were the true pioneers of brewing as a craft, making a single style over and over until the recipe was perfected for generations to come. Understand beer for what it should be, a religious experience.
Go to a modern beer festival
Beer festivals attract a certain individual. As this is a positive post I will cast no aspersions. Let’s just say they’re not for everyone. But, as is generally the case in the beer world, times are a changing. Indy Man Beer Con is a prime example of the new world of beer festivals. An incredible Victorian venue, showcasing some of the world’s greatest beers, curated by preeminent experts, all helped along with a large dose of awesome food. Forget what you think you know and get along to a modern beer festival in 2013.
Visit a BrewDog bar
Stop moaning about BrewDog, seriously, just stop it. Instead, visit one of their bars. Be encouraged by their well educated bar keeps to try a variety of their beers. Drink their guest brews, on tap and in bottles. Have some nice food and just generally feel welcome in an atmosphere which is built around celebrating good beer. This is the future of beer drinking so the sooner you get used to it the better.
Read a beer blog
Well, you’re reading this, which is a good start. But hundreds of beer lovers around the world are writing about beer on a daily basis and some of it really is pretty good stuff. There’s a list here of a few I read regularly. No doubt they will lead you on to others. If you enjoy reading it, tell them! We don’t do it for self gratification but it’s always nice to have a complement. Hopefully we won’t retweet it. 😉
Take a bottle of beer
Next time you go round to a friend’s for dinner, take a sharing bottle of beer instead of bottle of wine. Something at the stronger end served in a 70cl bottle can be a perfect way to end a meal and, who knows, you might convert a wine drinker into a proper beer drinker. Try a Wild Beer Co Ninkasi, a saison made with apple juice and champagne yeast, or an AleSmith Horny Devil, an 11% Belgian style ale. Both look lovely and are sure to challenge perceptions of non beer lovers.
Alexander Pope once said “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. Well, actually, it was a “a little learning is a dangerous thing” but the sentiment remains. Beer is a fascinating thing and the more you learn about it the more you can enjoy the wonderful drink. Read some books (1,001 beers is a good place to start), take part in a tasting session run by your local brewery, or even attend a course with The Beer Academy or BrewLab.
Be a twit
Few industries have better access to experts via the medium of Twitter. Pretty much all breweries worth their salt utilise twitter to keep their punters up to date with their latest beers, where you can buy them, special events and general beery musings. Most always make time to answer questions you have and they’re generally pretty awesome guys and gals. But whatever you do, don’t follow @bluegiantbeer.
Support your local
Look, here’s the thing, this country is run by some horrific people and they’re doing their best to stop people going out and having fun by making beer more and more expensive to drink. We have the best pubs in the world and we have the best beer in the world. So switch off your television and go and do something less boring instead. Get down your local, have a pint of British Beer and eat some pub grub. Without pubs, beer is nothing.