These five things are bunched together with an emphasis on how to drink beer, along with the where and why. It’s not so much about what specific beer is in the glass, but the other factors involving how the beer gets there.
#10. Good bars speak the language. I was at The Ship in Hamilton when the server responded perfectly to the age old question of “What do you have on tap?” Her response was to ask what flavours I liked. Instead of rattling of a list of taps, the onus was on me to describe what I wanted. In the mood for something hoppy, I was given three appropriate suggestions. Good beer bars should have waitstaff that can describe the beers on off – style, flavour, similar beers. It shows that they care about what beer they are serving you.
#9. Drink local as much as possible. Not always, but often. There are many reasons, but let me highlight two. Local beer is, ideally, going to be fresher than something that has been shipped halfway around the world. Buy beer at a brewery and you know it is at its peak freshness, rather than something that has been shipped and then sits on a shelf (or in a warehouse, in the case of Ontario). Supporting local breweries also has a greater benefit to the local economy. Breweries create jobs and help support the local economy. That beer has also travelled a significantly smaller distance to get into your hands, which is better for the environment. It also helps the local beer scene and aids in the growth of the breweries themselves. I would never advocate for completely cutting out international beers from one’s diet, but strongly advocate for your local brewery (unless that brewery is owned by someone else, which leads to…)
#8. Know who makes your beer. Most beer produced and sold in the world can be traced back to a handful of mega-companies. You know the big brands, but may not realize that they have purchased smaller breweries or created brands that they market as craft beers. The big boys are also now purchasing smaller companies (Goose Island, Creemore, Granville Island) with established brands. There are numerous other examples, so be a smart consumer. (As an aside, my favourite example in Ontario is that of Sapporo. The Sapporo sold in Ontario is brewed in Guelph, at the Sleeman brewery that Sapporo owns. Bars and restaurants should actually state that it is brewed in Guelph, not Japan, on their menus.)
#7. You don’t always have to drink beer. At a shitty sports bar that serves beer out of frozen taps? I’ll take a bourbon/whisky/scotch (or all three if the place is really bad). Have some gin if that’s your thing. Apparently some people also like wine. Don’t drink beer just because it is there.
#6. Look, smell, then taste. This point would have been best with the five points from yesterday – appreciate the other qualities of the beer before you bring the glass to your mouth. The colour and aroma are as equally important as the taste. Take some time after you pour out a beer instead of just rushing to taste it.