We’ve reached the end, but what the past five days have only produced my list of important things to know about beer. I’d love to hear of other rules that people have or if there are any disagreements with a part of my list. The comment section is open, so let’s get a dialogue going. But first, the final five!
#5. Beer deserves a spot at the dinner table. I have nothing personally against wine, but I hate the fact that most people still associate dinner with wine, either at restaurants or family gatherings. The wide array of beer styles means it is more likely to find a beer to match with dinner than a wine. (I find this beer and food pairing chart to be a good guide.) Beer bottles aesthetics are also significantly improving (not that there was anything wrong with a nice corked Belgian ale), so always be sure to proudly display the bottle on the table. That way guests can see it, look at it and it will often spark a conversation about the beer.
#4. Beer is the new pantry staple. Imaging taking all those delicious, complex flavours of beer and putting it into your food. This isn’t a new concept, as the established beer countries have been combining beer and food for as long as they’ve been brewing. Use a porter as the base of a stew, add a pale ale to your bread (no need for yeast!), braise some meat with a dark Belgian ale… these are just a few of the possibilities. Make sure to have an extra bottle or some beer leftover to drink while eating your tasty creation.
#3. Beer is meant to be shared. Beer is a social beverage, the drink of choice in pubs all around the world. Yes, it is possible to drink that bottle of Cantillon all by yourself, but it is more enjoyable to drink it with other beer lovers. Whether you’re discussing the beer or the local sports team, the social aspect is part of what makes beer so special. Invite some friends over, put out a couple of bottles and enjoy the beer experience.
#2. A beer for every drinker, a drinker for every beer. I have accepted that not every person is going to like a hoppy IPA or a bad-ass imperial stout. (In fact, I prefer it this way – more beer for me!) Some people are just going to want to drink light beers that don’t taste like anything and that’s fine. Don’t give them a sermon about the joys of craft beer or chastise them for their beer choices – you’ll only convince them that craft beer drinkers are snobs. (And because I doubt anyone will get the reference, the name of this rule is an homage to Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science.)
#1. Take beer seriously. Or not. This may seem like a funny rule after spending the past week creating a list of rules, but this is not a “Rule No. 1. There are no rules” cop-out. If you want to spend time on beer forums, checking rating sites, going on beer vacations, that’s cool. If you just want to go to the pub and enjoy a pint of a tasty brew, go right ahead. There are many ways to enjoy beer and choose the route that is best for you. A lot of it is also dependent on the situation – the setting, the company you’re with, etc. There are times you might just want to get drunk and forget about all the damn rules. Beer is what you make it.