This time of year makes me giddy. The weather is fantastic, sports are in full swing and the beer is seasonal, fabulous and plentiful. If you appreciate good beer-or even if you don’t-you can’t miss the plethora of options when you walk into a good beer bar or, Irish Pub- if you will (and you will). It’s beer season and IPA, the darling of the craft brews and hipsters everywhere, takes a back seat to the autumnal spices, fresh off the vine hops, malted grains, and even pumpkins!
Believe it or not, its not entirely a marketing scheme either. It’s harvest season and the hop farmers are actually harvesting their crops. But, it is easy to forget that all those cleverly named beers actually start in the dirt. And, what’s really cool is that even though big breweries purchase their barley and hops from big growers year round, you’ve got local craft breweries purchasing their essential ingredients from local farmers too. There’s a bit of a business ethos going on here that I do appreciate but even if that slides off the surface, you gotta love the fact that the variety of locally produced grains affects all the flavors too. So, no …not every IPA tastes the same and nor do all those Pumpkin flavors, so do yourself a favor and try one (or two) this Fall. It’s worth it, trust us.
Even for the adventurous, the options can be a bit daunting. If your bartender is a good one though, she’ll help you get to what you are looking for and you’ll have fun looking. To start, understanding beer styles is important (and not just if you own a bar or beer magazine). One of the best resources out there is the Beer Advocate …it’s a great site that allows consumers to rate beers, but they also do a great job of educating folks about beer. They have a simple list that breaks down the categories from the styles. For example, American IPA, Pumpkin Ale and Rye Beer all fall under “American Ales” …didn’t you know? Yes, “styles” are categorized by production method, ingredients, time and country of origin. So, more or less think country and then pick your type.
Let me be clear, I am no beer nerd. Those guys are a very special and niche group ….and are actually pretty helpful to have around too if you find yourself stuck at a geeked out beer bar with a bartender who tells you that you HAVE TO TRY the Westmalle Trappist Tripel (when you’re actually a Belgian Pale Ale kinda girl.)
That said, I do think that you should lean on your bartender. It’s beer season and you shouldn’t just order a Guinness or a Newcastle because you always do. Trust your bartender. Sure, it’s a power thing, but I am ok with that. Because I know that these guys get to sample the good stuff before the rest of us and often with a brewery rep providing a little back door education along with it. My goal is to ask for something new and to discover something I love as much or more than my regular brew.
It really is amazing what: “what’ll you have” vs. “what do you like” does for a little banter and in finding a fun, new beer you like! I am not speaking entirely from bias here when I say …you’ll actually get that at our Pub. Two reasons: First, we all really dig beer. Second, you don’t need a PhD in marketing to understand that if you discover something new with us and have a bit of a laugh doing it, you’ll probably want to come back. But not every bar is like that, so I wanted to provide you a simple but helpful way to navigate the beer scene. I made the mistake with a doppelbock once. I was given no heads up that I was about to drink a “meal in a glass” …also known as “one and done”. Just a wee taste would have spared me that and there are 2 ways to go about it:
tell your bartender that you want something that tastes like your favorite beer X
or, just try the 3 word rule.
For example, try something like: “Hoppy, refreshing and sessionable”. Hoppy screams IPA and “refreshing and sessionable” is my way of telling Mr Bartender, I don’t want to the wear the flavor on my tongue like an old sweater AND I want to hang a while so keep the ABV% on the low side. And, if I am lucky I’ll get something that tastes like one of my favorites, Sweetwater IPA.
When it all comes together, sampling is so much fun. Case in point: just last week, I discovered Sweetwater Blue. Ah man! What a treat. Sweetwater Blue is hoppy, refreshing and has such a light after-taste (hint of blueberries). Meaning, I wanted another …and, another. And, since my grandmother always said you shouldn’t keep a public count of a ladies’ drink intake, I’ll leave it with that …a recommendation of a tasty, local craft brew.
Fall is the time to try new beers. So just ask your bartender for a taste. It’s really that easy. At Fadó, we love adventures in beer and are happy to travel with you on yours.