You might not be able to guess it from the enthusiasm of the bros knocking back Natty Light at frat parties, but there are lots of beers out there that go above and beyond the yellow fizzy water we’ve all become accustomed to. In fact, beer enthusiasts actually prefer it to wine. But in order to transition from Natty to higher quality beer, one needs to learn how to drink a beer. Here are a few tips from a self-made connoisseur about how to go about drinking (as opposed to chugging, sloshing, or otherwise consuming) a beer:
1. POUR: Get the beer on draught if possible. If it’s in a can or a bottle, pour it in a glass; any glass will do. Hold the glass at a 45 degree angle and pour down the side to prevent making too large a head and losing the carbonation. If you just keep it in the container, the beer can’t breathe, and you won’t be able to smell it, thus denying it the full effect
2. SMELL: Hold the glass up to your nose and take a deep whiff. Do this a few times and try to identify the flavors. If you can’t get a good smell, try cupping your hand over the top of the glass. Remember—taste is useless without smell!
3. SAVOR: Take a sip as you take another big whiff. Try and get the beer on all the parts of your tongue—this allows you to pick up all the flavors.
4. FLAVOR: So, what flavors are you looking for? Beer, at its most basic, is just hops, malt, and water. Malt is usually the defining flavor—it’s the “bready,” starchy taste. Hops, the bitter fruits of a climbing plant used for brewing beer, provide the bitterness—that sharp taste that may take some getting used to. Nowadays, a lot of beers are brewed with other spices and fruits. Common tastes and smells to look for are floral and fruity for light beers, and chocolate or earthy flavors for medium to dark beers.
So that’s how you drink a beer. Feel free to impress (or annoy) your friends by talking about the floral notes in your favorite light beer. Now that you know how to enjoy beer, here are a couple of recommendations for beers that are a couple steps up from Natty:
Brewery: Haverhill Brewery
Beer: HaverAle Cream Ale
Location: Haverhill, MA
This beer is light amber and clear. The smells to look for are malt, flowers, and a light hint of cream. The taste is a little hoppy but nicely balanced by maltiness and slightly fruity. The beer becomes sweeter as you continue to drink it, and the effect is very smooth and refreshing. Overall, this is a flavorful beer that is also light―perfect for a warm spring day.
Brewery: Berkshire Brewing Company
Beer: Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale
Location: South Deerfield, MA
This is golden and clear beer, with a malty, fruity smell. This beer tastes hoppy, but it’s balanced by malt. Overall, the flavor is crisp and would go well with fish or even just fries. If you get it in the bottle, this beer should be chilled for maximum effect. You can get the “Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale” on draught at Sagra in Davis Square; I definitely recommend going there to try it!
If you’re interested in trying these beers, good places to purchase beer around Tufts are Ball Square Wines and Spirits, Hillside Liquors, Dave’s Fresh Pasta, and Downtown Liquors in Davis. The best places to get a good draught are Redbones in Davis and Christopher’s in Porter
Note: It is illegal for people under 21 to drink beer. This review is meant for those Jumbos of age. Regardless of age, please remember to drink responsibly!