Screwed Up Beer Week (vol 2) - New Year's Resolutions?

Written By: Kevin Patterson on 01/15/2014

This is what your resolution should have been: So, how's that lentil and granola diet treating you? And I'm sure your finances are all in order, your home is free of clutter and you've not texted even once behind the wheel since the calender turned to "ones" and "fours". I'm surprised you've even taken the time to read this post with all that gym-going you're doing. You've called your mom every night and you've put a dollar in that bucket every time you cursed- right? Na, me neither. And that's because all those good intentions go straight out window once we realize that those romanticized ideas are so damn inconvenient. (crap, there goes another dollar.)

I see it a half-dozen times a day: a guy walks into a bar (all great stories start that way, don't they?). He's compelled to explain to me why his drinking session is shorter than usual. Whether because of financial, health, or alcohol awareness issues, he's only drinking two beers tonight instead of his normal "last-call-already?" attitude. Despite the fact that his new resolution is starting to cut into my business, I get it- the guy may even be on the right track. Drinking less is great, just make sure you're drinking better. So what your resolution should have been was to become a better beer drinker!

We're not talking "certified"-this or "expert"-that. We're talking about how to maximize your time, effort, cost and appreciation of the time you're sitting with a glass. Here's a few bartender tips to get you going in the right direction...

Go get yourself some proper glasses! Its simple and it doesn't have to take much thought. The Cliff Notes version goes like this: "flute" for lagers, "weizen glass" for wheat beers, "nonic tumbler" for American and English ale, "snifter" for everything over 8% abv., "tulip" for Belgian ale; and the use some deductive reasoning for everything else based on these rudimentary suggestions. Sure, I can wax poetically about their glowing appearance or its delicate aromas; and trust me I've done that and its enough to make a Care Bear puke. But these glasses do bring about the better characteristics in the beer and without evoking any need for literary masterpieces. The bottom line is that these beers ain't cheap. Don't you want to maximize your spending dollars by appreciating each sip to its fullest? That's what proper glassware gets you. And all those free "shaker" pints are only good for getting tomato plants started and for holding up a brewery's screen-print logo. They perform poorly for beer appreciation.

Here's another tip: become a more regular "regular". When your town had only three brighter beer spots, you could play round-robin and everyone knew your name. Well sorry to tell you, Norm but now that there are 50-eleven of them scattered about town, your same theory might make you feel all warm and fuzzy for "promoting" the beer scene, but you're no longer a special guy to any of them. Therefore that special "one-off, paper towel-barreled, pixie dust dry-hopped ale" that you feel entitled to because you're a beer snob (...and all that), has gone to the guy growing roots at the end of the bar that keeps the lights on 3-5 times a week. So make sure you hit a home run with the few places you like most and dabble in the rest only periodically.

Lastly I'll leave you with this: vote with your dollars! We're all seduced, or- tricked by the latest and greatest thing out. We rationalize our spending for the sake of "the experience", but what we're really doing is promoting crap! We're telling breweries that it's ok to risk quality for newness. That's leading our beloved beer scene to be watered by with, quite frankly- a bunch of crap. So placing greater emphasis on spending our hard-earned dollars on more familiar quality brews instead of the wacky stuff will encourage brewers to put emphasis on the same.

And bear in mind that just because it's "local" doesn't mean it's quality! There's no doubt that you'll see me at the local beer making places, talking up their stuff. They are quite capable of making some outstanding beers, but they can put out some stinkers too. Get vocal with them and give'm your honest-to-goodness thoughts. Don't be the suck-up when in front of then, but don't run to your mom's basement and cower behind an online avatar to bash them unnecessary either. Get real with then and, if nothing else, simply vote with your dollars!

Becoming a better beer drinker is a resolution that you can actually keep all year. Talk to your favorite craft beer bartender or store manager to fix your bad beer habits and to make you a better drinker, but only on beers number three, four, five... And next week, we're going to figure out if your are a craft beer connoisseur or and alcoholic- eeek! Cheers.

Follow the conversation with me on Twitter: @BEERchitect #ScrewedUpBeerWeek to keep things rolling.