In my opinion, New Year’s Resolutions work about as well as two story outhouses. Get to the gym more. Eat fewer non-complex carbohydrates. Eat more riboflavin. This is what has been bombarding my Twitter Feed and Facebook Page over the past few days and I am sick of it. Very few of the resolutions that I have seen over the last couple of days have looked appealing or achievable, much less appealing and achievable. Perhaps even more egregious, very few of the resolutions I saw mentioned anything about craft beer. So, let me present you with a couple of things to add into the mix in 2015 that up the gravity on your beer geek goals. Whether you are a Certified Cicerone or just dipping you toe in the craft beer pool, you will hopefully find something to ponder as we move forward and into the new year.
Brew Year’s Resolution #1-Try a new beer style. We all have our favorites. We are partial to certain qualities of those brews, but why not try breaking into a new direction? You would be surprised (I know I was) about exactly how many different beer styles and sub-categories are out there. My own foray into this resolution will be the ESB category. ESB stands for Extra Special Bitters. When I first heard of this style, I thought that it meant that it would be very hoppy and bitter. That is actually not the case and, in fact, this beer style is remarkably balanced and drinkable. If you are curious about where to find information about different beer styles, start with Beer Advocate or BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) as some great resources. Not only will you see that there are a myriad of styles out there, there is usually a list of style representations that you can pick up at the local liquor store. Read up on your favorite beer style and then try something that is similar to it. You will be broadening your horizons while still staying in a palate and flavor profile that you are comfortable with.
Brew Year’s Resolution #2-Order a new beer every time you are out at a bar or restaurant. This is much easier than biking with a blindfold on and will allow for the same level of excitement. As more and more bars and restaurants are catering to the needs of craft beer drinkers, they are providing us with more options for enjoying a pint. Gone are the days where all you see are mainstream domestics on tap. Both in the Twin Cities Metro area as well as in greater Minnesota, the tap lines are becoming more interesting and diverse. Some of my favorite places in the Twin Cities are Republic and Muddy Pig. These places have a great selection of local and regional craft beers as well as staffs that are intelligent and willing to help you pick the right beer for you.
Brew Year’s Resolution #3-Try a new taproom. With taprooms popping up like prairie dogs in a South Dakota summer, this is extremely doable. The other night I went to Northgate’s taproom for the first time and I absolutely loved it. I got a chance to try their Parapet ESB and that helped me work on my first resolution. The vibe is great there and with each different taproom, you are introduced to a collection of new and exciting beers. We have some hidden gems in this state and each one has a vibe and feel that is unique. There are no cookie-cutter taprooms that I have seen and I have been to my fair share.
Brew Year’s Resolution #4-Hit the books. While there is much beer geek knowledge that can be gleaned from going out and trying new beers in taprooms and bars, if you really want to up the gravity of your beer knowledge, you need to check out some of the great titles that have been written about craft beer. One of my personal favorites is Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide To The World’s Greatest Drink by Randy Mosher. This is one of the most accessible books about everything one needs to know about tasting, understanding and evaluating beer. If you are looking for something more of the narrative variety, Microbrewed Adventures by Charlie Papazian has you covered. Papazian’s writing style is engaging and humorous and you read wonderful tales about his beer travels all over the world.
Brew Year’s Resolution #5-Build Your Own 6-Pack. One of the most common obstacles in trying new beer is the intimidation factor. I have heard people become hesitant to spend anywhere from 8-12 dollars on a 6-pack of beer they are not sure they will like. Well, most liquor stores have began to cater to the new craft beer enthusiast and they will usually have a section of single bottles that you can use to build your own 6-pack. This is a wonderful way to expand your beer geek horizons. Most liquor stores that have a build your own 6-pack will also be more than willing to help you fill it up with great beer that you will really like.
While the new year can bring a lot of pressure to set goals that may or may not be realistic or achievable, these 5 Brew Year’s Resolutions are definitely something that you will have fun attempting to achieve. Craft beer is not just something you drink, it is a means to social interaction and discovery. So, get some friends together and try to work on these together. I will be right out there with you trying to mark these off my list, all the while, having a great time meeting new people and drinking delicious craft beer. Prost!