Libations – “Beer Week”

by Anna Minkler

You may have noticed in the past few years microbreweries seem to be springing up all over the place. Porters, IPA’s, ESB’s, APA’s, berliner weisses, hefeweizens, altbiers, English ales, strong ales, red ales, imperial stouts, barleywines: a fledgling beer drinker is likely to drown in the midst of all these choices before they can order their first drink  So what’s all the hype about? We went to the experts in the industry and asked: What does a newcomer to this endless world of options need to know to enjoy a good microbrew?

“Start with a lighter craft beer and slowly move up the food chain to the most aggressive one until you find one you like. Don’t expect that to be your favorite beer forever. Your tastes will mature and you’ll start enjoying more complex, aggressive beers.”

– Phil Bannan, owner Scuttlebutt Brewery

“Don’t start with a double IPA or an Imperial Stout. Get a sampler. Don’t be biased based on color. There are a lot of different flavors to explore. Have fun!”

– Brian Cardwell, Head Brewer, Chuckanut Brewery

“There is a huge range of flavors in beer. Spend some time sampling a wide range of styles to find what you like.”

– Justin Bajema, Certified Cicerone and a BJCP National Beer Judge.

“Let Loose! Every brewery is different- there really is something for every taste bud. The spectrum of hoppyness and lightness and maltiness is wide. You have to step out of your comfort zone.”

– Casey Diggs, Operations Manager Boundary Bay Brewery

You won’t know what you do (and don’t) like until you try! Malt forward beers will tend to be mellower, while hop forward beers showcase bitterness. There are sour beers, mellow beers, nutty beers, and fruity beers. If you just want a fizzy, light, refreshing beer, a pilsner or a hefeweizen will do the trick. Micro beer is as diverse in flavors and characteristics as wine.  You might like a bright fruity Zinfandel, but hate a dry, oaky Chardonnay. Just because you don’t enjoy one micro beer, does not mean you will not enjoy another. Be adventurous, and ask your bartender or server questions; they will be happy to share their knowledge. Cheers!

by Anna Minkler