The Perfect Pour

Beer is the most widely consumed alcoholic drink in the world, and the third-most overall, after water and tea. However, despite its popularity, many people have been drinking beer wrong their entire life. 

Pouring a beer is a skill, and definitely contributes to the overall tasting experience, so we want to make sure that we are doing it properly. Many people pour a beer to minimize the amount of foam on top of the beer. This actually doesn’t allow any of the CO2 in the beer to release. By doing this, that CO2 releases when it’s in your stomach, which leads you to feel bloated and can actually lead to more serious stomach complications. So, when pouring a beer, we want to help release that CO2. I always recommend enjoying a beer out of a glass, this will help release that carbonation. The goal is about 1 inch of foam (called the head) at the top of the beer.

Below are the steps you’ll want to take to pour the perfect pint. It’s important to note that this applies to most beers and glassware types that you would find at an average bar.

  1. First, we will want to use a clean glass. A dirty glass can impact the flavor of the beer as well as impede head creation. 
  2. Next, open your beer bottle or can. Grab a glass and hold it at a 45° angle. Pour the beer about an inch above the glass, aiming for the middle of the slope of the glass. 
  3. When the glass is about 2/3 full, bring the glass upright, and continue to pour in the middle of the glass. This will create the perfect foam head. Remember, foam is good, and we are aiming for about 1inch of foam at the top of the beer.
  4. Stop pouring as the head of the beer reaches the top of the glass. You might have some beer left in the bottle or can, but that’s okay. Wait for the head to die down a little and then pour the remaining beer right down the middle of the glass.
  5. Enjoy!

Congratulations, you’ve properly poured a pint of beer. Now comes the best part - drinking it! Since you’ve properly poured the beer, you might notice the beer is much more aromatic. Take in the smell of the hops and malt, observe the beautiful color of the beer, and take a sip. Cheers!

What I'm drinking: Finback IPA | Finback Brewery (Queens, NY) | IPA | 7.2% ABV

Taprooms

 Finback Brewery

Finback Brewery

The brewery taproom is a beautiful place. With the rise of craft beer in America, taprooms have been popping up all across the country. Just like the beers they serve, taprooms come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors. Every taproom tells its own unique story and puts out its own vibes that help craft the drinking experience.

So what makes a great taproom experience?

I think that varies from person to person, but for me all great taprooms consist of a few things:

  • Limited taps (8-12)
  • Ample seating
  • Great music
  • No TVs
  • Limited food
  • Welcoming environment

The first thing I notice when walking into a taproom is the beer list. I hate to be overwhelmed with options - keep it simple. When I think to my favorite taprooms and bars, they all have one thing in common: a limited tap list. It's great to see some familiar faces along with a few rotating specialties. This also keep the bar moving at an orderly pace.

 Grimm Artisinal Ales

Grimm Artisinal Ales

Now you've got your beer, and you need a place to hang. Breweries need to optimize their taprooms for seating. Nobody likes to be standing with nowhere to set their beer. Have great, communal seating. Beer naturally brings people together. I feel the most comfortable sitting next to strangers in a taproom. Don't sacrifice seating for design aesthetic (ahem, Grimm).

Next, we move into the entertainment realm. Play killer music. Beer and music go hand in hand. Fill the air with some tunes that sets the right mood for your taproom. You don't want people signing karaoke, but you also don't want people having not heard of any song you're playing. Live music is always fun as well - bring in a local artist on certain nights to bring the community together. Lastly, please don't have a TV. It's a taproom, not a sports bar. If you're looking for other forms of entertainment, pick up some board games. 

Then we get to food. I've never been a big fan of full menus. Have some snacks to help soak up the booze, but keep it simple: popcorn, nuts, pretzels. If you'd like, bring in a local food truck to supply some food to guests or allow guests to order in. This also help maintain a consistent flow in the taproom. 

Finally, welcome everybody (dogs included). As I've mentioned here before, beer brings people together. Taprooms consist of all walks of life, so let people come in and share a slice of life over a nice, cold pint. I don't mind kids in the taproom either - the biergarten has been family-friendly for decades. When it boils down to it, be respectful of the people around you, and don't be a douchebag

The taproom is a great place to come to enjoy the world's greatest drink straight from the source, as the brewer intended. So, what do you like to see in a taproom?

Here are my top 5 favorite taprooms (in no particular order):

  1. Interboro Spirits & Ales (Brooklyn, NY)
  2. Monday Night Brewing (Atlanta, GA)
  3. Wren House Brewing (Phoenix, AZ)
  4. Hops & Grain (Austin, TX)
  5. Great Raft Brewing (Shreveport, LA)

What I'm drinking: Floating Weightless | Finback Brewery (Queens, NY) & Other Half Brewing Co. (Brooklyn, NY) | Brett Ale | 6.5% ABV

The Haze Craze

Back in March of this year, the Brewer's Association released the 2018 Beer Style Guidelines. The most notable change was the addition of the trio of Juicy/Hazy styles: “Juicy or Hazy Pale Ale,” “Juicy or Hazy IPA” and “Juicy or Hazy Double IPA.” Once a Northeast specialty, Hazy ales have clouded the American beer market. The Great American Beer Festival recently released that there were 706 total entries amongst the 3 aforementioned categories, making it the most entered beer style, dethroning the perennial favorite - American-Style IPA (331 entries).

Most folks credit the start of the haze craze to John Kimmich of The Alchemist in Stowe, VT. John brewed Heady Topper, a Double IPA, and decided not to pasteurize or filter the beer - giving it a cloudy appearance and adding a particular juicy flavor and aroma to the beer. The beer gained popularity and other New England breweries began following suit. Thus giving the style the aptly named title of New England-style beers.

The point of Hazy IPAs is to make the most aromatically hoppy beer possible, not necessarily make a cloudy beer. The haze is merely a byproduct from techniques used to enhance aromas and create a smooth, milky mouthfeel that cuts down the bitterness found in traditional American-Style IPAs. Different yeast strains and late hop additions without filtration lead to this goal - producing a beer bursting with hop flavors and looking more like an orange juice.

Traditionally speaking, unfiltered beer isn't anything new. Just look to Germany here: Kellerbiers and Zwickelbier are both unfiltered lagers. However, when looking at American-Style IPAs, cloudiness in the beer has always been a sign of imperfection. Nevertheless, this has all slowly changed over the past decade (even though some beer purist might disagree).

A slight downfall to this style though is their shelf life. They are brewed to be consumed within days of packaging. So, they might taste great at the brewery and then taste a little off when you take a 6-pack home to enjoy. Most breweries have been smart about this though and shipping their beers off with a 'packaging date' and 'best before date' stamped to the labels. This is a wonderful idea that should be on all beers - regardless of style!

I think that Hazy beers are a great addition to the lineup of beer styles. I've always been a big fan of these types of beers, and I'm excited to see where brewers push this beer style going forward now that it is officially recognized. 

What I'm drinking: Luponic Distortion: Revolution No. 009 | Firestone Walker Brewing Company (Paso Robles, CA) | IPA | 5.9% AB

Santa Barbara, CA

I had a Saturday afternoon to myself while out in Santa Barbara for a wedding, so I decided to hop around to a few local breweries:

  • Third Window Brewing
  • Telegraph Brewing Company
  • Pure Order Brewing

Third Window was a great spot. It’s refreshing to walk into a brewery these days and not see an IPA on the menu. I ended up sampling a number of their Belgian-style ales. One of Third Window’s guiding principles is iteration, and it shows in their beer titles: Blond 4.1 and The Light 3.3. The numbers corresponding to the current batch. I really like and appreciate this journey of continuous improvement. While none of their beers truly stuck out to me, I’d definitely order them again if I saw them on a menu because each batch of beer they’re making is better than the last.    

  Third Window Brewing

Third Window Brewing

Next stop was Telegraph Brewing Company. This was my favorite taproom of the afternoon. Incredibly friendly and knowledgeable staff, along with great music, games, and energy around this place. As for the beer, Telephraph was taking some risks with their beers. I’m not always the biggest fan of throwing a ton of crap into beer, but sometimes the creativity and setting match up perfectly to create a unique experience. This is how I felt about their Santa Margarita Lime Gose. The beer tasted like a margarita and had the perfect amount of tartness. I really enjoyed the Añejo version which sat on tequila-infused oak chips. The salt, lime, and tequila were well-balanced and perfectly complemented one another. 

Lastly, I ended up at Pure Order Brewing. I felt like I was walking into a surf shop here. This was a smaller shop with about 7 beers on tap, and an awesome outdoor space. Nothing about the beer stuck out to me, except for further making me realize that I’m not a big fan of California Common beers. Although I’m hopeful that I’ll one day find one that sticks with me.

Overall, Santa Barbara was a fun little town. I was able to try a lot of beers from all over town and hit up these three spots. There was about 10 breweries total within the city and another 4-5 on the horizon to open in the next year or two. I’d definitely love to come back and see how these three breweries progressed as well as pay a visit to the many more breweries that I left untouched.

What I'm drinking: Añejo Santa Margarita Lime Gose | Telegraph Brewing Company (Santa Barbara, CA) | Gose | 5.2% AB

Gemütlichkeit

gemütlichkeit

noun | ge·müt·lich·keit | \ gə-ˈmᵫt-liḵ-ˌkīt

Gemütlichkeit is a German word with no direct translation to English. It is used to convey the idea of friendliness and coziness. It represents a feeling of warmth, familiarity, and ease of mind. It's a sense of community. To me, that word captures the world of beer. Beer brings people together - family, friends, and strangers. 

Now by no means am I a beer expert. In fact, I don't even begin to scratch the surface. However, I love learning about beer: the history, the process, and the community. I seek out local breweries and beer bars when I travel to taste the local beer and learn the story of beer in each city I visit. These experience foster a spirit of gemütlichkeit with me.

In these musings, I hope to share these experiences with you. I'll be talking about the beers I'm drinking and the places I am drinking them. Beer has always (since I've been 21) been a passion of mine, and I hope to share that with you. Enjoy.

Cheers!


What I'm drinking: Dead Sea-rious! | Carakale Brewing Co. (Amman, Jordan) & Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. (Gilbert, AZ) | Gose | 5.0% ABV