Drink First – Read Later
To frame this point in the beer world, just look at how Social Media has exploded in the past few years. The World Wide Web is flooded with information about all the brilliant craft breweries and the business of craft brewing in the United States.
Want to learn what the best beer is or where the best place to drink beer is in a city you are going to visit? - Ask the Twitter Universe and you can get some great answers about what beers to sample and the best places to sample them.
Curious about a new brewery that is being distributed in your area? _ Go to Beer Advocate or Rate Beer to find out what the unwashed masses are saying about their beers.
Wondering if that bottle of “Double-Dutch, Upside Down, Donkey Bladder Aged, Nano Brew” is worth $48 for a bomber? - Search Beer Blogs for reviews on the beer
How do you actually know if “SDNanoBeerExpertGuru” (made-up – I swear) is really an expert? Why would “he” ever taste a pencil eraser or how does “she” know what wild boar urine smells like? I don’t know about you but I have never actually tasted sunshine nor do I make it a habit to sit with a Thesaurus, coming up with bizarre descriptives. Taste is subjective and largely based on how experienced your nose is. The more you sniff in life, the bigger your reference library becomes and the more defined your palate is. To coin a phrase my father often used; “Somewhere in the middle lies the truth” and when it comes to beer, the truth is really what your palate decides it should be.
I am not saying that reading beer reviews is a bad habit. On the contrary, it is entertaining, thought provoking and at times eye-opening. They can stimulate your own creativity and help you find words to describe what you taste, smell and feel when drinking a beer. The key is in sorting the information and knowing how to use it or in a lot of cases, NOT use it. As much as I enjoy reading reviews, make no mistake about the fact that I would rarely skip a beer based on the negative reviews of strangers. I tend to try a beer first and then read what others think about it. This can be an enlightening approach and one I highly recommend.
Who should you listen to?
As craft beer choices become more accessible, it becomes harder to decide which beers to try, but the good news is that there are heaps of beautifully crafted beers available in most states nowadays. Beer trading is a practice I advocate greatly for. I can say with all sincerity that there are some wonderful folks out there that take great pride in sharing their local favorites with people in other areas. There is nothing more gratifying, in my humble opinion, than shipping off some local beer to a person you like and respect in another area. Sharing what you love makes for good beer karma and paying it forward is what I love most.
How do you choose beer?
Now… kick back with a new beer and make your notes about what you taste and what you think. Then…go out and search the reviews to see what others are saying. Take note of the folks that share your view of the beer and save for future comparisons. Have a good laugh reading the nasty reviews of the "mom’s basement dwellers". It’s cheaper than cable and at times more entertaining! Last but not least, share your positive finds with friends using social media. Champion good beers and give props to the brewers that make them.
Xoxo – TheArtofBeer