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CiceroneCraft Beer CultureBeginner’s Guide To Getting Into The World Of Craft Beer

 

 

Everywhere we look. Craft beer.

There’s special tappings, growler fills in grocery stores, dedicated bars to it *ahem*, food pairing events based on it, wild styles brewed with dill pickle to guava puree and festivals – so many wonderful festivals.

Simply put, people are more interested in and justifiably picky with what they consume. And when it comes to beer, it’s all about craft.

While you can read up on beginner’s craft beer lingo and beer styles on pubs like Paste Magazine and on the obvious – but really awesome – CraftBeer.com, I’ll share a variety of other avenues outside the traditional Google search.

  • Join Facebook Groups

There are so many craft beer groups. Ones that focus on trades. Ones that focus on specific breweries. Ones that focus on studying for the Certified Cicerone® exam. Ones all about sharing photos of what you’re drinking.

My advice when exploring this space is to try to find your hyper local ones. For example, in Madison, Wisconsin my favorite are Madtown Beer Pirates and MBC – WI (Madison Beer Crew).

  • Subscription Beer Box Services

Some of the most fun you can have when exploring the world of craft beer is diving into brews that you can’t get in your home town. Tavour and CraftShack are two beer box services definitely worth checking out.

I love both because they give personal and creative descriptions of the beers. It’s also a universal truth that we enjoy things more when we know they are scarce. Just be mindful of your beer budget. These subscriptions can run it dry real quick because it’s addictive.

  • Swim In The Sea Of Reddit’s Beer Threads

I’ve learned a ton just reading through Reddit threads. Hop in and search threads on beer, craft beer, homebrewing, and brewery. You’ll quickly have your mind open to how large, but how helpful and connected the community is.

Let’s be real. It’s not just the craft beer itself that you’re interested in. It’s never been the main reason any of us got into craft beer. It’s the community around it that’s incredible. Reddit is proof.

  • Join Local Homebrew Guilds, Clubs and Visit Homebrew Shops

Speaking of people, we have Charlie Papazian to thank so much for starting the American Homebrewers Association (now called the Brewers Association) and making it very likely that no matter where you’re reading this, there’s surely a local homebrew club or shop nearby.

I’ve been a member of the Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild for quite some time now and have made so many good memories and friends. My biggest advice is to go to the meetings and volunteer for the events. It may be a little out of your place to do so, but you’ll be glad you did.

  • Pick Up A Few Books From Your Local Bookstore Or Library

There’s nothing like brushing up on the history of beer to realize it’s massive impact on the world we’re living in. If not a book, grab your local newspaper. Most have beer reviews or beer focused columns that run weekly.

While I could give you a list of 25+ beer books I’ve read over the last few years, I’ll suggest the same one that anyone studying to become a Certified Ciceron® should read: Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher. If you’re in Madison, it’s available at the Wine & Hop Shop.

  • Check For Classes At Your Area College

Truth is that you’re not the only one by you that wants to dive into the world of craft beer. If you’re fortunate enough like the people of Madison are, you can check your local community college for brewing and beer-related courses.

I made some good friends when I enrolled in Madison College’s Craft Brewing Certification program. Definitely worth the investment.

  • Share Your Beers

I value sharing beer and talking about flavors and aromas others experience … under one condition: whoever I’m sharing with agrees that no one is wrong in what they experience. As long as you and those you’re splitting beers with and talking about them with understand that each of you may or may not have the same tasting experience, then it’s a magical moment to learn and connect.

While you’re at it, you might as well hop on the Untappd app to read up on what others think about beers and rate them yourself.

  • Mix Six Packs + A Pen

If you’re not interested in any of the above advice, at least take heed on this one. Every month, purchase a mixed six pack at a local bottle shop and write about each of the beers you have.

It’s the power of this exercise that solidified our pricing structure at Garth’s Brew Bar of providing discounted pricing on mixed 4 and 6 packs. Trying more beer and making mental space to truly appreciate it changed the game for me and has for many others entering the world of craft beer. Here’s the prompt I’ve had next to me every time I’ve written about the beer I was drinking.

Practice writing: color, aroma, head, start flavor, middle flavor, finish flavor, body, impression, feeling of drinking it, what to pair it with

Lastly, I’d be remiss to not mention that it’s vital to take risks. Risks in the beer styles you try (trust me, I don’t enjoy drinking smoked beers or dill pickle beers, but I’ve tried and appreciated them), risks in talking about your favorite beer of all time (because everyone has their own and it’s likely different than yours) and risks in trying different breweries near you (my advice is to not judge a brewery’s beer until six months in. It takes them a bit to really dial in their new systems and experiment).

Enjoy the journey and welcome!

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