In recent years, the craft beer market in the United States has seen a boom. Currently, it’s worth a little under $24 billion and in 2015, consumers in the United States (21 and over) drank almost 28 gallons of beer and cider per person! Beer gifts, such as beer growlers, beer carbonation charts, glasses or steins, and DIY beer kits have also seen an uptick in popularity, as people search for the best gifts for beer lovers. It’s a craze that doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon, so for any beer novices out there, now’s your chance to brush up on your beer 101! We’ll discuss some common types of beer, what “accessories” you should have on hand, and how to choose your beer when the options seem overwhelming.
What’s the Big Deal With Beer? What Do I Need?
A Gallup poll done in 2016 reported that almost 45% of people who can legally drink prefer beer over wine and spirits and almost 15% of Americans drink beer at least once a week. Though local breweries took a hit during Prohibition, it seems that they’re back in full force now! In 2015, the number of breweries in operation in the United States grew by 15%, bringing the total to over 4,200 breweries in operation — that’s the biggest growth in all of American history!
Having basic beer glasses is important, though if you get really into beer, you should start collecting the various glasses for different types of beer (just like wine!). Beer growlers are also a fun item and are a good collectible item! If you visit a craft brewery, they’ll often have beer growlers that you can take beer home in — they’re airtight and many breweries will personalize them with the brewery logo or make them stand out in some way.
What are the Common Types of Beer?
There are many different kinds of beer, but the ones you’ll likely see the most of are wheat beers, IPA’s (Indian Pale Ales), stouts/porters, and lagers. There are variations within these types of beers and plenty of other varieties, but these are some of the most common, and ones that you’re likely to encounter at a bar or find in the grocery store.
Lagers tend to be what many beer drinkers start out with, though what most people get their hands on first aren’t necessarily what craft breweries would consider “good” beer (think Budweiser, Busch, Pabst Blue Ribbon, etc.,), but these are what people often think of when they think of “beer.” They tend to have a low alcohol by volume content, so they’re a good light, refreshing beer that you can drink steadily without getting too drunk.
Wheat beers (think Shock Top, Blue Moon) are unfiltered beers with herbs or spices flavoring the beer. IPA’s are a popular choice among craft breweries and tend to be very hoppy beers. These have a lot of variation in ABV and double or triple IPA’s will be among the strongest. If you want a lighter IPA to drink more of, look for a Session IPA.
Stouts and porters are dark beers, thanks to a longer malt roasting period when the beer is brewed. These tend to be heartier and often have a higher ABV (though not always). You’re not going to generally want to knock back five of these though.
How Do I Find a Beer I Like?
One of the best ways to find a beer that you like is to start trying different kinds of beer! If you have a friend who is already a beer enthusiast, tag along with them and ask if you can try their beer. If you find one you like, make a note of the name and style for next time. Trying more generic, commercial beers is also a good way to establish a baseline. For example, if you like wheat beers, like Blue Moon, when you go to a craft brewery or nicer bar, you can tell the bartender you favor wheat beers, and find a whole new selection available!
Visit a local brewery today and go home with beer growlers and newfound beer expertise!