Giving & Receiving the Gift of Beer
One of the perks of being a beer nerd/working in the craft beer industry is that when special occasions like Christmas and birthdays come along, everyone goes the easy route and gets you craft beer. I’m good with this because it allows me to A) try new beers B) revisit old ones that I like and C) not pay for any of it.
While I do love to receive beer, I also like giving the gift of beer. Since my family just started getting into craft beer when I started working at Yonkers Brewing Co., I decided to reach for some good stuff in my stores as a treat for Christmas. I ended up bringing them Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels), Allagash Curieux (Belgian ale aged in bourbon barrels) and The Bruery Mischief, a hoppy Beligan ale.
As for my haul, here’s what I received:
· Allagash Tripel (Belgian-Style Tripel)
· Heavy Seas Yule Tide (Gingerbread Weizen Doppelbock aged in Jamaican Rum Barrels
· Ommegang Three Philosophers (Belgian-Style Quad)
· Rinkuskiai Missing Elf (Doppelbock from Lithuania)
· Carton Brewing Gilded Lilly (Tripel brewed with White Truffles)
· Carton Brewing Decoy (Winter Warmer)
· Carton Brewing Epitome (Black Ale)
· Carton Brewing S.S. Yirgacheffe (Coffee Pale Ale)
If you are a craft beer head like I am, you probably want to spread the gospel of beer. However, that can get tough because A) people are stuck in their ways and B) you are likely to be wrongfully/accurately be called a beer snob.
In my experience, the best way to combat both is to not overwhelm them with a ton of craft beer all at one time. I learned the hard way when I first got into good beer, but now I feel like I am a seasoned veteran with some tricks up my sleeve to make beer seem much less blasé and more approachable.
Knowing people’s palates is a key ingredient to all of this. I knew that my brother and dad were into bourbon, so I tried to introduce them to a couple high-quality bourbon barrel aged beers and it worked out. If you know someone is not going to like a super bitter beer, don’t tell them to try an IPA, even if it’s a high-quality one that is not known for being particularly bitter. Remember, your palate has been trained at this point to tell the difference between a beer having a strong hop flavor profile and being bitter, but they are just getting started.
Another technique I have used is to pounce on a style they do like and expand their horizons that way. My brother, 21, found that he liked pilsners after trying Brooklyn Pilsner. After that, I tried to find him pilsner variants from a bevy of different breweries so he could taste and see what was great and what was just OK. He has since graduated to enjoying other styles of beer, but I think getting a person to tell the good from the bad in a specific style helps train them for differentiating other styles and quality levels going forward.
These are just a couple ways I try to teach people about good beer. Not everyone is going to get on the craft beer hype train, but the hope is that you can get some people to appreciate it that previously did not. The more people get passionate about craft beer, the more the industry will evolve.
Who knows, next year maybe instead of receiving craft beer for Christmas, you will be giving to a faithful, thirsty disciple.