3 Things We Learned From A Guide To Ordering Craft Beer

While craft beer has been enjoying increasing popularity in the last few years, not everyone is confident enough to stride into that new beer hall down the street and roll a beer order right off their tongue like a beer sommelier fresh from beer sommelier school. Even if you’re not steeped in hops lore, there are a few things you can learn about ordering something you won’t hate, and not feeling like a total n00b when you do.

The Atlantic’s CityLab has a great guide for non-beer snobs to bring them through the maze of craft beers on menus these days and come out with a tasty selection on the other side. A few of our favorite lessons learned are below, with step-by-step guidance over at CityLab.

1. Come prepared with examples you know you like: Whether it’s a brand name or a memory of a taste, knowing what tastes good to you will help bartenders make a recommendation. Love Guinness, hate Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and only drink Budweiser when you’re desperate? That information can come in useful.

2. Study up on a few flavors common in the industry: Greg Engert, the James Beard Award-nominated beer director of Neighborhood Restaurant Group in Virginia and Washington, D.C. has developed categories he says are used at places like Whole Foods, and are likely similar to terms used in many beer establishments — Crisp, Malt, Hop, Roast, Smoke, Fruit and Spice, and Tart and Funky. These flavors can vary, but can provide a good starting point when talking with bartenders. CityLab has a great chart with more information in its guide.

3. Not all beers are served the same (so play it cool): Maybe you’re used to seeing beer served in a tall, frosty glass, or a pint glass. But don’t be surprised if you get 10 ounces of an IPA instead a 16-ounce pint, as ABVs vary by brew and can be more costly when there’s more of it poured. In general: lighter beers are served colder in straight-sided glasses, while heavier beers come warmer in curved glasses, like a Chimay in a goblet.

For more, check out CityLab’s guide and stop getting so worked up the next time you’re faced with a confusing list of pilsners, lagers, Hefeweizens and stouts. It’s all going to be okay.

The Non-Beer Snob’s Guide to Ordering at a Craft Beer Bar [CityLab]

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