Welcome to Craft Beer 101
Debunking Craft Beer Myths
If you’re new to the craft beer scene, it’d be easy to misconstrue the myriad of acronyms for craft beer that exist. And you might consider the endless discussions of detecting subtle notes and flavors as mere craft beer snobbery. When I first got into craft beer, that was very much my perception of people who discussed IPA, APAs, stouts, Belgian-style tripels, sours, etc. After listening to these discussions in bars and at social gatherings, I was left thinking to myself, “Isn’t it all just beer?”
Well, yes. It’s all beer. But the variety and differences between all of the types of beer is extremely interesting for newbies to experience. And the best way to experience the differences? Through tasting them all, of course. Tasting them all is as ambitious as it is delicious, but where you should start?
With the plethora of different types of beer being made in the world, having a functional knowledge of some of the more prevalent types of beer can help you get started off in the right direction on your craft beer imbibing adventure. So, here are a few types of beer to taste the next time you’re at a brewery, that will help you learn the ropes.
American Indian Pale Ale: The American Indian Pale Ale, more commonly referred to as simply an IPA, is easily the most purchased style of craft beer in the U.S. One sip of an IPA should tell you why it’s so popular. Depending on which IPA you’re sampling, they’re usually a mixture of fruity and floral, with hints of citrus. Because of these simple flavors, as well as the fact that the taste of alcohol is usually quite minimal, IPAs are an extremely accessible and popular beverage for beer newbies and experienced enthusiasts alike. IPAs are all about hops, which does result in some people complaining about the bitterness usually associated with IPAs. So, if you’re looking to sample craft beer for the first time, I’d highly suggest starting with an IPA and working from there.
American Imperial Stout: If you’re of the pre-disposition of jumping right into things headfirst, just go for an American Imperial Stout. Forgive the metaphor, but an IPA is the Honda Accord to the imperial stout’s Corvette. The stout is bold in taste, black in color, and the ABV is usually 7% or higher. But don’t let this discourage you from giving this beverage a shot. In fact, the malty, bittersweet taste can be absolutely delectable to some palates, and the heavy, rich nature of this stout usually means you can have one beer and be set for the night. What’s not to love about an imperial stout? This beer is delicious, unique, and can transform you into a very cheap date.
Belgian-Style Tripel: Some people use the word complex to describe beer. Personally, I don’t like that. Beer is as complex as you want it to be. I’d describe a beer like the Belgian-stlye tripel as having a lot of depth, meaning it has a lot going on. There is usually a fruity note to this type of beer, a hint of malt sweetness, and even some spice sometimes. I particularly enjoy the high levels of carbonation in the tripel. The carbonation gives it a texture unlike a lot of other types of beers. Plus, the golden, light amber color is absolutely gorgeous to look at in a well-lit bar or outdoor patio on a sunny day.
Sample, Sample, Sample
Keep in mind, folks, that there is no answer to which is the best beer out there. Sample everything once, and you’re bound to find a genre that best suits you and your individual taste.
Hopefully this outline helps you know where to start on your craft beer journey. Give you an insight to some of the verbiage you hear at the breweries you frequent. If you’re looking for a reason to jumpstart your craft beer experience, a brewery tour in Traverse City is a pretty fantastic way to go. Traverse City breweries have a wide range of brews to try, and the knowledgable staffs will help you find perfect brew for you.