Always use a glass: because a beer’s aroma and appearance matter. What’s more…
Choose a suitable glass rather than a juice glass or tumbler. Just as a fine wine is best experienced from quality stemware, so too will a barley wine or Imperial stout taste better when sipped from a large brandy glass. And on the same subject…
Never store your glasses in the fridge or freezer. Cold kills taste. And if a barman thinks he is doing you a favour by serving your beer in a frosted mug, politely decline and ask for one from the shelf instead.
Always take time to smell your beer. Aroma is integral to the flavour and full appreciation of a beer.
Try to be open-minded towards new aromas and flavours. Intense bitterness, sharp sourness or even weird fruity flavours may not be what you think you want in a beer, but if you give them an honest try you might just find yourself liking them.
Don’t be a snob, but do be specific. Although the vast majority of the world’s mainstream beers are taste-alike golden lagers, that doesn’t mean all lagers are equal. Simply ordering ‘a lager’ is as non-specific as asking for a ‘white wine’. The world of lagers includes styles as diverse as schwarzbier (black), rauchbier (smoked,) bock, dunkel, pilsner, Vienna, and many more.
Make it a personal rule not to drink the same beer all the time. No matter how much you like your favourite brand, there are still thousands more beers left in this world to sample.
Be prepared for criticism. Comments like, “What’s the matter? Are you too good to drink ***** (insert the name of any heavily advertised mainstream brand here)?” should be countered with a simple, “Yes, as a matter of fact, I am.”
Exercise consumer power by avoiding bars and restaurants that serve only taste-alike, bland beers.
If you’re dieting or just want fewer calories or carbohydrates, drink less but better beer. And remember, beer generally contains fewer calories than the equivalent volume of wine, freshly squeezed orange juice or even semi-skimmed milk.
When dining, consider the flavours and textures in your beer and food and have a go at making them work together. As with wine, a suitable beer pairing really can make a dish taste better. Bland beers (or wines) are simple but unrewarding partners for most foods; the best experiences are always achieved when more robust flavours are combined.
Never compromise in your choice of beer. Even if you’re just looking for refreshment, remember there are many brews available that are infinitely superior to those normally considered “quaffers” or “lawnmower” beers.
Don’t make assumptions. Dark beer is not necessarily rich and filling and strong beers won’t automatically put you over the edge. Just sip them slowly. Ales are not always darker, stronger or more calorific than lagers and fruit beers are not just “girlie beers”. And while we’re on the subject…
Men, don’t ever, ever, make the mistake of thinking the woman in your life (or the one you’d like to be in your life) will necessarily prefer a lighter, paler or fruitier beer than the one you’re about to order.
Finally, always drink for flavour and enjoyment rather than alcohol or brand image.