Beer lovers are a loyal bunch. Many of us have at least one variety we never get tired of. (Hey, two-fours exist for a reason.) But even the most devoted stout or lager drinker can’t help noticing how many more choices there are today: tons of India pale ales (IPAs), sour beers, flavoured brews and so on, across dozens of different styles. The Beer Store stocks more than 800 brands, after all — if you tried a new one every day, you’d still be making discoveries well into a third year!
It’s fun and rewarding to find out what all the beer scene excitement is about these days, and you don’t need to know everything about a variety before you try it. Remember, there’s no way to lose. Even if you take a chance on a brew that isn’t destined to become your go-to, it’s a tasty experiment. And your favourite will still be waiting for you — if it’s still your favourite.
Ready to go on an adventure of discovery around the wide world of beer? Here are six fun, easy strategies for expanding your horizons.
- Try a new beer from a brewery you already like.
- Buy a sampler pack.
- Try the same style of beer from multiple brewers.
- Host a beer tasting — virtually.
- Pair a new brew with a dish that makes it shine.
- Keep track of what you’ve tried.
The theory here is that if you appreciate one example of their work, you might enjoy others, too. You could select a different take on a specific style you’re fond of or go for a complete departure from your usual category. Either way, starting with a trusted brand is smart. And a great way to experience an even wider variety of their beers is to…
As you’ve probably noticed, some breweries offer mixed packs of cans or bottles, which allow customers to try multiple new beers at once. Some are seasonal — a summer or winter sampler, for example — while others include one or more beers that are difficult or impossible to find any other way. (In other words, you’re only bringing these suds home if you spring for the sampler.) Even if every brew in the pack isn’t a home run for your palate, chances are they’ll still be really enjoyable.
This is sort of the same idea as #1 but also sort of the opposite: If you enjoy one beer of a particular style — say, an IPA — why not shop around for IPAs from other brewers to explore what they’re doing with this variety? Name any beer style and it’s likely The Beer Store will have multiple offerings to try. For ultra-popular brews, such as pilsners and stouts, you’ll have dozens to choose from. Whichever category you dive into, you’ll discover different flavours and aromas in every example, and you may develop new (possibly strong) preferences.
The more, the merrier at this event. You can get your friends to join you on your beer discovery adventure without even being in the same room. (This is perfect for times when physical distancing is the order of the day.) To make it happen, get everyone who’s participating to gather the same lineup of beers at home. Then you can all taste and talk about them at the same time.
Beer tastings involve small pours for sampling — serving them in 4-ounce (20 millilitre) glasses is typical, but use whatever you have on hand. (Tip: Professional beer tasters often clear their palates between beers with water and a neutral-tasting food, such as bread, crackers or plain pretzels.) Take and compare notes as you go along, or just gab and enjoy. Either way, you’ll discover fun, fresh brews.
Spice up your tasting adventures by serving beers with foods that suit them to a T. If you’re trying stouts, for example, make a pot of stew or serve a smoked brisket to coax out the brew’s rich, smoky, chocolatey or coffee notes. Getting into pilsners? We’re happy to offer advice on pairing beer and food for maximum enjoyment, which can be especially helpful if you’re not sure what kinds of dishes go with a beer style you’re just getting acquainted with.
It’s fun to be able to look back on the beers you’ve sampled and know where there’s room for more adventure. And having mementoes of those experiences will inspire you to try more new options. Keep a journal, collect labels and/or buy a book with beer listings and check off the ones you’ve sampled.