There are several things to keep in mind when you’re on the precipice of enjoying your well-deserved beer. To name the essentials:
TEMPERATURE — don’t treat beer like it has to be as cold as the Rockies: would you serve a Malbec at a freezing temperature? No, so please respect your beer enough to let it breathe a little and warm up to cellar temperature (45-55°F) so it can properly display and perform its wonderful components. You can tell the difference even in a terrible beer: if the mountains on the can turn blue, your beer will smell and taste like cold, like licking the freezer crust off a Stouffer’s mac ‘n’ cheese, but if it warms a little you get the actual aroma and flavor. Think about it the next time you see those commercials about “drinkability” and “Cold as the Rockies” — what are they hiding behind all that cold?
GLASSWARE — proper glassware is another must. Accelerated in the wine industry by the Riedel family was the idea of specific glasses for certain wines to enhance the experience of drinking the product and enjoying it to the fullest degree. This has been a part of the good beer world since the beginning. Beer steins, goblets, snifters, tulips, kolsch, pints…the list goes on. I personally dread the presentation of a beer in the common, all-purpose shaker glass at most bars — the whole thing seems off if the beer isn’t showcased in the best light or in this case the best glass for its contents.
THE POUR — I can’t even get started on how many terrible pourers there are working in the bartending industry or just in casual settings. There is no excuse not to pour a beer correctly, because it’s too ridiculously easy. If you need video instruction, here’s your man.
One of my favorite parts about beer, besides the taste, are the different types of bottles they come in and their labels. You can get growlers at most any microbrewery brewpub, where for a fixed charge you can buy a half gallon of beer on tap and then bring it back when you’re done with that beer for a lesser charge for a refill. This is a great system and provides a solid link between the brewery and their customers. There are also bombers, which are the 22 oz. bottles you can find now in most any good grocery store. Some breweries only do bombers, like Buckeye Brewing but others do a mix of both bombers and the regular 12 oz. bottles. When you venture into lambics, you get to experience the delight of the champagne style bottle with cork and cap. Or if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on De Molen, you’ll have the treat of holding a sweet bomber with cork, champagne cage and wax top.
Alright I’m done geeking out on beer. Contribute comments or questions — I’m happy to answer!