Along with good food, good wine, and stepping on crunchy leaves, beer is something I make an effort to enjoy year-round. I’ll drink it all: cheap beer, overpriced beer, or your neighbor’s crummy homebrew. Yes, if you put the alcoholic beverage known as “beer” in front of me, I’m wont to consume it—regardless of what its label might say.
My appreciation for beer has moved me to write about it on several occasions, but until now, I’ve never synthesized all of these musings into a single, easy-to-follow guide.
Perhaps you’re already familiar with some of this information. Maybe you’re keen on some of it—or none at all. Whatever the case, I’m quite certain you won’t find any of it condescending or overbearing.
Now, let’s get to drinkin’.
Pick the proper glassware
If your goal is to savor all that your beer of choice has to offer, choosing the right glass is essential. Like all foods, beer is a feast for the senses: Its sights, sounds, and aromas are only fully unlocked when released from their can or bottle.
Not every beer calls for a glass, but if you’re looking for a truly immersive beer experience, we recommend pouring that sucker into one of the many varieties of beer glass designed specifically with that type of brew in mind.
Learn how to pair beer with food
For most people, a beer’s a beer and a meal’s a meal, and the only thing the two have in common is that they’re enjoyed alongside one another.
There’s nothing inherently wrong about this approach, but if you’ve ever wanted to tie a bow on a fancy meal, there’s no better way than to choose a brew with complimentary characteristics for you and your loved ones to enjoy while you eat.
Just as certain types of wine pair well with certain types of food, so, too, do various beer styles. Understanding a beer’s flavor profile is the first step in deciding which meals to serve it with.
Avoid gimmicky beer products
Given the relatively recent rise of craft beer culture, it's no surprise that the beer industry is flooded with gizmos, gadgets, and doohickeys designed to enhance your beer-drinking experience. Unfortunately, most of these products end up being overpriced and ineffective.
Behold: the crowdsourced Fizzics Waytap, a beer-pouring device that claims to transform the look and feel of your bottled or canned beer into one poured from a tap. Does it work? Hell no. But that won't stop someone from selling it to you for almost $90.
Products like the this take an sprawling, difficult-to-navigate culture and close it off even further by confusing consumers. Before you plunk down your hard-earned money on a gadget that promises to transform your beer-drinking experience, make sure you know what you're getting into.
Know when to break the rules
Perhaps the most important rule of beer drinking is to know when to ignore every single rule of beer drinking. Here’s a list of scenarios where it’s best not to fuss about my (admittedly pretentious) criteria:
1. If you’re at someone’s home, it means they were nice enough to host you in the first place, so don’t go snooping around for pint glasses or turning down a drink because it doesn’t pair well with dinner. Be a beer enthusiast, not a beer snob.
2. Shower beers—one of life’s simple pleasures—are supposed to be calming. Don’t risk shattering the mood by bringing fragile glassware into the tiny, wet space you’re planning on standing naked in. The goal is to drink while bathing, not to go to the hospital. That reminds me: Check out this shower drink caddy.
3. Consider the setting and venue: Are you tailgating or taking a break from yardwork? Are you, friends, and family having a cookout, and everyone’s plucking cheap beers out of a cooler? Did you just get home from work and all you can think about it is crushing an ice-cold pilsner over the kitchen sink? Yeah—you probably don’t need to get all technical.
And that leads me to my final point: Don’t let anyone tell you how to drink your own beer, not even yours truly.