OT: How does one get into craft beer?

Submitted by dupont circle on March 9th, 2015 at 6:41 PM

Am I the only one that gets overwhelmed when shopping for beer or browsing a tap list? It seems the trend at restaurants is to carry 37 seasonal limited edition locally sourced beers on tap, changing weekly. At the grocery or beer store there are 100s of options from small to medium sized brewers. Wine feels immensely more approachable, in comparison. I don't want to become a fanatic, but I'd like to be more confident and understand a little more. And supporting local products is always cool. But how is it even possible with this trend seemingly overheating and new product pumping out constantly?

I picked up a case of Bell's Hopslam last month and it was pretty good. It didn't blow my mind (I think it was supposed to?). Also, I can't really do super dark beers after developing a taste aversion from too many car bomb blackout nights during understand.



March 9th, 2015 at 6:47 PM ^

If you liked, go an extent, Hopslam (I also think it's good but with so much out there these days it's not great), keep trying more IPAs and pale ales. I also recommend to keep trying the stouts, especially the barrel-aged ones which are prevalent these days (many amazing) and you may start to acquire the taste for them, even if it doesn't come right away.


March 9th, 2015 at 6:48 PM ^

Personally I wanted to start a collection of beers and it started growing. Having to cross the border has caused me to slow down this collection growth as the Canadian dollar has fallen. I have over 100 different beers just purchased at beer stores in the Windsor area and at a couple different locations around Ann Arbor.


March 9th, 2015 at 9:29 PM ^

As mentioned, that's a very naive outlook on beer and aging it. 25, 40 years?! Probably not so much but 1, 2, 5, 8 years can do some cool things to certain beers. It's not necessarily about "bettering" the beer but the beer evolving and changing over time, and being able to revisit a beer and check on its evolution is pretty cool.


March 9th, 2015 at 8:10 PM ^

That's a loaded question. Generally speaking 6 months or so is always safe, but I've had darker bottles that will be good 1-1.5 years kept at a constant temperature, as the darker bottles block uv light which can break down the beer. In a fridge you're good for minimum two years. I also dont buy the "skunk" due to temp changes, as most craft beers go through several temp changes throughout their life. I don't think temp changes change the beer, but constant cool temp certainly prolong the shelf life.


March 9th, 2015 at 8:52 PM ^

Haven't done it with store bought beer, but have had the experience of home brewed beers 'evolving' with age. Particularly dark porters and stouts. Not claiming they always improve, but the flavor profile can mature from the 4 week post bottling to the six month post bottling mark. Haven't noticed anything seem better much after the six month mark. Also haven't had this experience with lighter beers ( but have with honey meads) .


March 9th, 2015 at 9:09 PM ^

See Crentski's response below. Some beers absolutely get better with age, particularly some stouts, strong ales and sours.  There is active yeast still in bottle conditioned beers and it keeps working on the beer, sometimes to the benefit of the brew. If you buy anything directly from a craft brewer, they'll likely have an idea of what changes you might expect from aging a beer (for various timeframe).


March 9th, 2015 at 8:34 PM ^

First, it depends on style.  Anything hoppy, don't sit on it.  Consume as soon as possible because the beer fades quickly.  Yes, some are fantastic for several months, but they arrent even close to the same as freshly canned/bottled.

Barleywines, stouts, barrel aged beers, and beers of similar styles are cellar possible.  Some beer even tell you the necessay cellar conditions.  Essentially, keep in a dark and cool location.  Yes, it is possible for the beers to get better with age! I have several beers that are 10+ years in age and are still drinkning great.  I've notied most drink perfect around 3 years aged, but understand that each beer is different. 

Keep in mind, that aging beers is all personal preference.  Most brewers and myself believe that if you haven't had the beer upon release, then do not age the beer without having a baseline for its taste.


March 9th, 2015 at 8:37 PM ^

You sound like you know what you're talking about, so now I'm learning. Are you suggesting that you do "cellar" beers to improve their quality? I like to think I've drank my fair share of beer, and can confidently say that everything has been either the same or worse with age.


March 9th, 2015 at 9:25 PM ^

I don't mean to speak for Crentski and though I may not state it perfectly I'd imagine we're on the same page: cellaring can very much be a good thing. Absolutely start a cellar but when you're ready. DON'T buy a beer just to cellar it, always have said beer "fresh" or have had it fresher but once you start getting into barre-aged beers, sours, Belgian styles, etc. you can again start thinking about putting some away for a period of time and revisiting down the road. Crentski also stated beers can absolutely get better with age and it's very true but maybe don't make that assumption and think of cellaring as "changing" the beer where more blending within the bottle can happen, flavors come and go, etc..


March 10th, 2015 at 12:46 AM ^

remember hops were originally as a preservative. IPAs were very hoppy to last the trip to India. I am drinking a Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale now that is over a year old and has lost nothing. This has been true year to year with this hoppy brew.


March 9th, 2015 at 9:42 PM ^

I know some have already chimed in but:  Keeping beer in a DARK place (light damages beer, moresoe than the "myth" of temperature being a nasty thing) and it that place can be in the mid-50's, boom, a nice cellaring spot.  I know I just stated temperature is a myth, that's more of a short-term thing (taking a beer in and out of a fridge to get warm over the course of a couple months is not a big deal, or leaving it in a hot car for a day).

Anyway, a cool dark spot.  I think the main thing with "cellaring" it in a warmer spot, say one that is near 65-70 degrees, is that the aging process happens a bit faster and not as delayed as one would rather see.  On the other end of that would be cellaring in a refigerator...also okay, but your aging process would be really slow and in a sense, a bit redundant.

Every bottle of beer will age differently.  The beers best suited to age are stouts, sours (wild ales, lambics), barleywines, and Belgain-style beers (Trappist beers, too!).  And the anything barrel-aged which many of the aformentioned are, now days.


March 9th, 2015 at 6:49 PM ^

I try to go off things like time of year and what I'm eating in regards to what will agree with my pallet. Taste is what it is... No one should tell you what you should and shouldn't like. I tend to like to buy samples, flights, or simply ask the bartender if you can try a beer that catches your eye.