Before considering how you should go about becoming a beer connoisseur, you should first ask yourself one simple question: Why do you want to become a beer connoisseur? If your desire to do so stems from the fact that you love beer, that you are truly passionate about it, then by all means feel free to proceed. If, on the other hand, you want to become a “connoisseur” simply because you think it will be impressive or because you think that you need to do so to gain some sort of status, don’t waste your time. Becoming a true expert on beer is just as complicated, time consuming, and expensive as becoming an expert on wine.
Luckily, however, it’s much more fun.
The following are some simple steps that you can take to becoming a true connoisseur of beer, to becoming knowledgeable and well-versed in every type of brew that mankind has ever created. It’s a long road, and one that definitely shouldn’t be driven, but it’s also about as much fun as you’ll ever have.
-Find a Well-Stocked Store-
This is crucial to becoming a true beer connoisseur. You need to find a local store that carries many, many different types of beer. It would also be preferable that the store in question also does a high volume of business. The more beer they sell every day, the better the chance that the beer they sell you will be fresh and delicious, even if its imported.
So, find a good store, get to know the people who work there, and generally cultivate those relationships. In the end, you’ll be glad you did. People who own good-quality beer-selling stores usually know about good-quality beer, otherwise they’d be in a different business. Such people can be a great resource.
-Find an Equally Well-Stocked Bar-
This can be a very tricky task. More and more, however, beer lovers are able to find bars that offer dozens of different beers, or even hundreds. The entire focus shouldn’t be, however, on quantity. If a bar has 500 beers in stock, this may well be a bad sign. To find out, order a lesser-known beer that you have tasted before and see if it tastes fresh when you get it. If not, the bar is overstocking and is selling old, stale, skunk beer.
Once you’ve found a quality establishment, get to know the bartenders, managers, or owners. Once again, these people will tend to be a great well of knowledge from which you can draw.
-Study the Subject-
You wouldn’t try to become an expert on Civil War history without cracking the spines on a few books, would you? For the very same reasons, those wishing to gain extensive knowledge about beer shouldn’t be afraid to swing by the library and do a little research. Check out a book about the different kinds of beer, take it home, and read it. Understanding what terms like “bock,” “porter,” and “ale” really mean is the first major step towards truly becoming an expert on the subject. In fact, many people who consider themselves “connoisseurs” could tell you what a German wheat beer tastes like or looks like, but would be totally unable to describe how one is made. That is just the sort of information you should endeavor to learn.
-Remember, It’s All About Enjoyment-
Never take your beer too seriously. I know that that sounds like stupid advice (How could anyone ever take beer too seriously?), but many people simply take the entire process too seriously. If you taste all the beers you can find and then discover that Pabst Blue Ribbon is still your favorite beer, you shouldn’t be ashamed or even really care. Sure, PBR isn’t considered one of the better quality beers in existence today by most experts, but your unique taste is something that you should treasure, not shun.
In the end, becoming a beer connoisseur is all about the enjoyment. If it starts to seem like work, you’re taking it too seriously and forgetting what you set out to accomplish in the first place. Just relax, have a cold one (or a lukewarm Guinness), and take a deep breath. In the end, becoming a beer connoisseur should feel an awful lot like living in a Corona advertisement. If not, you may be in it for the wrong reasons.