Let’s Stop the Abuse of Beer Terms

Ah, beer. Many a skeptical event centers around this lovely beverage. The world’s oldest recipe is for it. Some people claim, in a perhaps tongue-in-cheek fashion, that it saved civilization. People who we used to think were slaves were actually workers who were paid in it. It’s safer than water to drink, meaning that it was once a traveling must-have item.

The popularity and proliferation of American home, micro, and craft brewing has brought about something of a Silver Age for this ancient form of drinkable bread. There is a precise process and science to brewing, and related to them is a specific set of terms. It’s high time, then, that we stop saying completely silly and utterly useless things when we talk about it.

Of course, not everyone is a beer connoisseur (or snob). There is no need for every beer drinker on the planet to understand what lacing or IBU is. At the same time, people incessantly misuse terms regarding beer and misconstrue what qualities of beer mean with wild abandon. This leads to more confusion and less enjoyment of beer — and FSM forbid that we allow that.



Instead of saying: “I want a beer I can’t see through, none of that light crap.”
Say: “I would like a beer that is [bitter/boozy/hoppy].”

The implication here is that beers that are lighter in color are low on flavor, alcohol content, and/or calories (and therefore in street cred as well). Nothing could be further from the truth. One of the best-known dark-colored beers, Guinness, might be bitter, but it was developed specifically so that it would have a lower alcohol content and its heavy mouthfeel comes not from its caloric content or bitterness, but from the nitrogenation process it undergoes. Malt, and to some extent, brewing conditions, are what gives a beer its color. A darker-colored beer, then, is no guarantee of intoxication, palate-wrecking, or a beer gut. In fact, some of the most caloric, high-alcohol, bitter beers come from the IPA family, and those beers are generally quite pale in color.

If you want a beer that has a full body, you want a stout, like Guinness. If you want a beer that will get you drunk, ask for one with a high alcohol content. If you want a beer with floral bitterness, you want a hoppy one, like an IPA. “Darkness” isn’t A Thing with beers, full-stop.



Instead of asking: “Do you have any light beers?”
Ask: “Do you have any beer that I could enjoy without getting too drunk?” or “Do you have any beer that isn’t terribly bitter?”

The term “light” is completely meaningless when it comes to beer. As noted before, the color of a beer is not at all a helpful indicator of alcohol content, flavor, or number of calories. The only time you should ask for a “light” beer is if you want something low in calories, and even then, keep in mind that “diet” beers did not get popular because they helped people lose weight, but because people could drink more beer without filling up too quickly. In terms of taste (and pretty much any other factor I can imagine), it is far better to have one or two high-quality beers than a half-dozen “light” ones. If calories are a big concern, you can opt for some of the better craft options.



Instead of bragging about how you only like: “Anything imported, because American/domestic beer sucks.”
Complain about: “American adjunct lagers.”

The reason why “American” beer has a bad reputation is because of Prohibition. Pre-Prohibition, there were plenty of breweries making delicious beer. Prohibition shut them all down and created a generation of drinkers unfamiliar with the tastiness of it. Post-Prohibition, breweries were invested in churning out as much beer as possible that people not exposed to beer would find palatable, i.e. in sales rather than quality. The result of that, plus the Great Depression, was the (deservedly) much-maligned American adjunct lager — thin, pale, watery, nigh tasteless, and low in alcohol content.

Jimmy Carter changed all of that with the relaxing of brewing laws. People began home-brewing again, and some of those home-brewers went on to found microbreweries dedicated to producing innovative, tasty brews. Some of those grew too big to truly be called “micro” and so the term “craft brewery” was born. Because the craft brewing industry in the United States isn’t hampered by purity laws and tradition like it is in Europe, some of the most unique beers in the world are, technically speaking, domestic, if you are in the United States.



Saying that you loathe any and all American beers, then, is to discount a wide range of beers from nearly 2000 breweries. I doubt anyone who has said so has actually tried all of the incredible concoctions offered by breweries out of the United States (including, to bring it full circle, beer modeled on the very first known recipe) before making such a sweeping declaration. Instead of proclaiming your ignorance about craft brewing in the U.S., acknowledge the grossness of the type of beer that everyone loves to hate.



Heina Dadabhoy

Heina Dadabhoy [hee-na dad-uh-boy] spent her childhood as a practicing Muslim who never in her right mind would have believed that she would grow up to be an atheist feminist secular humanist, or, in other words, a Skepchick. She has been an active participant in atheist organizations and events in and around Orange County, CA since 2007. She is currently writing A Skeptic's Guide to Islam. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

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  1. This is awesome. And you’re right: today, I would put US craft beers up against any beer in the world.

  2. Beer!!!

    I’ve got a pale ale in the carboy that I need to rack to my bottling bucket, with a little hop tea for extra flavor. Hopefully this weekend.

    American beers are awesome, once you get past the Bud/Miller/Coors swill.

    1. Unfortunately you just listed the only three American beers that one actually encounters in pubs on this side of the Atlantic. I believe unquestioningly that there are good American beers as this point was once made in an episode of Buffy, but as an empiricist I’m a little uncomfortable holding to a position so far removed from my lived experience.

      1. You must go to some crappy pubs.

        I was even able to get Fat Tire in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

      2. Aaah I got your post … you don’t live in the USA. That makes a lot of sense. :)

        Someone below was able to find American beer to order online. Perhaps you should try that!

        Or go on vacation. I suggest Colorado, which has the best craft brew of all the states, in my opinion. They win waaaaaay more awards than any other state, and for good reason.

        Trinity brewing in Colorado Springs, for example, is awesome.

        1. My boyfriend got to do a tour of the Great Divide brewery when he was in Denver and said it was great. I’m really jealous of that but hey, we don’t exactly lack for craft brewers out here in New England.

        2. Colorado is great, but there’s good beer everywhere in America. EVERYWHERE! But being close to the brewery is usually the best you can do. Except for Starr Hill which is pretty close to me and I can’t stand 90% of their beers… except their Lucy beer, which is actually sort of outstanding.

    1. ikr??? all this reagan worship nowadays, but what did he do for craft breweries. WONT SOMEONE THINK OF THE CRAFT BREWERIES

  3. From a borderline beer snob:

    “Do you have any beer that I could enjoy without getting too drunk?”
    You could also ask:
    “What would you recommend as a good session beer?”

    “Do you have any beer that isn’t terribly bitter?”
    You could also ask:
    “Could you recommend a beer with a good malty flavor or one light on hops?”

    Like what you say about american beer too.

  4. Excellent post! And timely given that TAM approaches. I like especially hoppy beers, at least for the first of an evening, and am finding more and more US craft beers fill the bill. In mainstream restaurants with limited selection, though, I find that color can be a useful marker of body, with IPAs or so-called Ambers or Reds satisfying my palate more than offerings of paler colors. Not a perfect measure, of course, but asking the often clueless wait person for a list of “darker beers on tap” is a useful shortcut to a satisfactory experience.

    1. I guess that’s the case, but be careful — that lovely pale beer you’re about to drink could be an incredibly hoppy PA or IPA (;

  5. One quick question. I believe it may be apocryphal, but I have been told that ‘light/lite’ beer carries no legal defintion, so in essence, can be fewer calories, but could also be applied to a delicious Czech pilsner. I cannot for the life of me find a decent source for this belief.

    Tangentially related, a decommissioned catholic church is home to a spectacular local brewery here in the steel city. closest thing to faith I’ve found

    1. I’ve been there! So very good. I really enjoyed the dark chocolate stout ice cream.

  6. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a lager, sometimes an ale, sometimes a stout…or if I’m at a bar like Pony in NYC where they keep updating and bringing in new casks as they dry up, I’ll just experiment for hours :)

  7. Oh and an enthusiastic 2nd to this:

    Instead of proclaiming your ignorance about craft brewing in the U.S., acknowledge the grossness of the type of beer that everyone loves to hate.

    For some reason, the topic of how gross American beer is seems to come up a lot online and in forums. Each time, my patience gets a little thinner. At this point, I usually just block or ban anyone who says it because there’s really no excuse for someone who is ostensibly interested in beer to ignorantly discount an entire country full of delicious craft brew. It’s officially achieved “pet peeve” status with me.

      1. No, pretty much every complaint-about-complaints regarding US beers is also applicable to US coffee. It’s not like the swill isn’t there, but there’s really fine stuff available too.

    1. That reminds me of a comment thread elsewhere when there was talk that a US version of the show ‘Spaced’ was being contemplated and all the Brits (and some Americans) were dumping on all of American TV and pop culture. Now I wasn’t keen on an American Spaced either, but I did have to point out that a huge chunk of the geek and pop culture references that fueled that show were made in the US of A. Thread kinda died after that.

    2. At this point any enthusiast who hasn’t figured out that American’s make world-class beer and wine is willfully delusional.

      1. Not to mention that even the every day pilsners and ales that are so hated can have they’re place.

        As long as it is ice cold Miller, Coor’s, and even Budwiser can hit the spot on a hot day, but then while I like beer I’m not a snob about it.

        And frankly if I just got done playing softball I wouldn’t want an overly hoppy or even a terribly flavorful beer, I’m looking for a thirst quencher and that is where these beers do best. Plus, even most beer snobs I have met will marvel at the consistancy of the brew.

          1. Meh, I like a good beer but it is not my beverage of choice, I would put it in the same category as coffee or wine. If I see an interesting one I’ll give it a try but for everyday use I buy cheap coffee, cheap wine, and I can’t tell you the last time I had a beer at home that didn’t have a shot glass in it, so no I don’t care enough to poo-poo other’s choices.

            But hey, different strokes.

          2. “and I can’t tell you the last time I had a beer at home that didn’t have a shot glass in it, ”

            You sound fun.

  8. Instead of saying: “I want a beer I can’t see through, none of that light crap.”</i
    “I would like a beer that is [bitter/boozy/hoppy].”

    My favorite craft brewery is McMenamins, a chain of brewpubs in Oregon, all in historic buildings. Normally I get their Terminator Stout, but when it’s hot I get one of their seasonal fruit beers. They’re light colored, barely hopped wheat beers with some fruit (raspberry, marionberry, blackberry, etc.) added during fermentation. They’ve got a light flavor with just enough bitterness to counter the tartness from the fruit, and just enough fruit to get the flavor without actually being sweet.

  9. This is great! I’ll definitely be referring some people here out of laziness.

    One more beer-related ignorance that really gets me is, with the slowly growing popularity of cider in the US, nearly everyone mislabels it, and thinks that it is beer. Cider is not beer. It doesn’t taste like beer. It isn’t made like beer. It isn’t beer. But it still manages to find its way onto beer menus in bars throughout the US, and into the mouths of unknowing patrons.

  10. There definitely needs to be an increase in the promotion of tolerance when it comes to beer !! There is room for all the beers, even the tasteless and low alcohol ones, if only as gateway-beers to more tasty ones. Diversity is good !!

    Btw, August 5th is International Beer Day, dedicated to the enjoyment of the great taste of beer with your friends, to the celebration of brewers, bartenders and other beer technicians and to the unification of the world under the banner of beer, by celebrating the beers of all nations together on a single day.

    Cheers !

  11. Oh, yeah!

    I am lucky to live within walking distance of two craft breweries and biking distance of a dozen more. Heaven exists and I am in it.

    One of the beer-snob whines I hear is “good beer doesn’t come in cans.” Au contraire! My favorite local brewery, Oskar Blues, has started putting all of its beer in cans. From the yummy and mild Mama’s Yella Pils to the insane Tenfiddy imperial IPA. This has caught on and more breweries are starting to package their beer in this very much more convenient form.

    Anyone reading this who happens to come to the Boulder area is welcome to stop by. The beer is on me.

    1. Oooh, the canning issue is one of my peeves, too. Canning is better for the beer. I should do a whole piece on beer packaging.

  12. I’m from The Netherlands, a country that also has a reputation for not so good lagers. At least that’s what our beer loving neighbours the Germans and Belgians think.
    That may be true for the big names like Heineken, Amstel, Bavaria and Grolsch. The dominance of especially Heineken forced the industry to make lagers that are almost indistinguishable from each other. Preference for one or the other became a matter of marketing, not of taste or quality.
    Luckily the last 25 years there’s been an upsurge in smaller breweries that brew not just quality lagers but also very good ales and stouts.

    I used to brew beer at home. Beer with liquorice, honey or herbs. I’ve tried it all. I stopped because I was putting on a lot of pounds. Nowadays I hardly drink any beer. Muhuhu… (sheds a tear). But on the rare occasion that I indulge myself, I love to drink Frysk Bier of the Frisian brewery “Us Heit”, or Brugge Tripel, made by Palm. Jever (Ost-Friesland in Northern Germany) is my favourite lager. It has a nice refreshing hoppy taste.
    All this talk of beer has made me thirsty. Yearn, yearn.

    Did I mention that I’ve once met the late Michael Jackson?

  13. Super hopped IPAs: GIMME GIMME GIMME!

    Imperial generally means higher alcohol content, as well. Imperial IPA! Yeah baby.

    If you want a beer that has a full body, you want a stout, like Guinness.

    If you want a beer that has a full body, choose a stout, yes … but not Guinness. It lacks body, imo, especially for a stout. It’s okay but, man there are so many great stouts out there! Try something new!

    Also, COFFEE PORTERS are kind of ridiculously delicious. Your world will be changed, especially if you really love coffee.

    I am a beer snob!

    It’s summer now and I’ll probably stick mostly to a good, citrusy wheat but like I said, IPAs and Pale Ales in general are my favorite.

    I have a pint of Ruination IPA from Stone Brewery in my fridge waiting for me!

    BTW, if you’re ever in San Diego — visit the Stone Brewery. IT IS AMAZING.

    1. BTW, if you’re ever in San Diego — visit the Stone Brewery. IT IS AMAZING.

      Arrogant Bastard changed my life. Double Bastard might end it… blissfully.

      1. Now imagine drinking Stone brews directly from the brewery tap.

        It was … man. I still remember that moment. *happy sigh*

      2. Every year at Christmas, my extended family cracks open (and quickly polishes off) a 3 liter bottle of Double Bastard. Oddly enough, it is one of the few religious folks in my family who always brings it.

    2. > Also, COFFEE PORTERS are kind of ridiculously delicious. Your world will be
      > changed, especially if you really love coffee.

      If you happen to make it to Minneapolis for SkephickCon, make sure to find yourself a 4 pack of Surly Coffee Bender. You won’t regret it.

    3. Guinness was a good mainstream example, but yes, I encourage people to try new things.

      As for Stone, I go there often enough to own a growler. Their special-release stuff *twitch*

  14. I thought for a long time that I hated beer. It turns out that I just hate bitter, hoppy beers. I actually love sour beers, hefeweisens, saisons, and a number of other types that don’t have hops as the dominant flavor.

    1. That’s hilarious, because when someone asks me the type of beer I enjoy most, I say:

      IPAs. HOP HOP HOP I want to feel it in my FACE!

      If iI can’t feel it in my cheeks, it doesn’t have enough hops. :)

      1. I knew I liked you for a reason. I’m the lone hop head in my gang of beer buddies and they took such joy in calling me one that I had to come up with a name for the malt fans: malt faces.

    2. As a pursuer of novel flavors, sours have become some of my favorites. I just had New Belgium’s Lychee sour last night and it was nommy.

  15. I had a Corona once. I don’t drink beer since that. I don’t wanna say what it tastes like because there is an inevitable question that follows and the answer to that question is embarrassing.

    1. My first beer was also a Corona. I didn’t drink another beer for 5 or 6 years after that. I assure you Corona is a terrible excuse for a beverage (especially your first beer) and if you DO decide to give beer another go have a very very snobby friend recommend something for you. But of course there is nothing wrong with steering clear of all beer – it leaves more for the rest of us!

    2. I’ll say it then, Corona’s a goddamn piss brew, they even had the audacity to make it worse by selling a light version.

      1. On a completely unrelated topic, what’s the safest way to get beer to body temperature? Do I need to make a double boiler as I would with Everclear, or can I just heat it on a stovetop on it’s own? I don’t want to start a fire.

        1. well if your warming it in the bottle, you should probably uncap it and use a double boiler as the high heat from the stove might crack the glass.

          also, warm beer? please tell me you’re not gonna drink that

          1. Some beers taste better closer to room temp, which I think maybe he meant, instead of body temp. Body temp would be pretty dang warm.

            You shouldn’t drink most stouts and porters ice-cold.

            Let ’em warm up a bit before you sip.

            Negro Modelo, a decent Mexican beer, has a lot of chocolate notes, and they come out as it warms.

  16. Living in Madison Wisconsin, beer is a way of life here. Microbreweries and craft breweries are so common you will hit one if you throw a rock. Most of the phrases you complain about aren’t things I would ever hear anyone in my social circle say – even those who are not really beer drinkers would never make the mistake of thinking Miller and Spotted Cow are the same thing. I feel privileged to live in the land of craft brews, and knowing at my local baseball games I can choose from any one of a dozen different small-brewery options.

    1. As a fellow resident of Madison, I can second that. It’s actually kind of sad no one outside of WI can easily get their hands on some Spotted Cow.

      1. Seriously. Spotted Cow is amazing. I spread it all around the county by the case this holiday season – makes great gifts outside of Wisconsin.

  17. Yay! Beer! And a fine article discussing its merits and flavors, perfectly germane for groups that are “skeptics in the pub.”

    Then, I saw it was by Heina, and of course, I had to comment, as I am Heina’s self-identified #1 fan. You rock my face.

  18. Court finished early and I have a great IPA and bowl of salmon chowder in front of me. Life is good in the USA. (At least for me today.)on

  19. Beeeeer.

    I am so distracted right now on man.

    Also I’m temping at a very popular website and they have FIVE kegerators. On Fridays at 4pm it’s “happy hour”. And they don’t mess around — American brews only. The “worst” beer I’ve seen has been Blue Moon (eeew).

    That’s actually where I discovered Mirror Pond. :)

  20. At the brew pub I’m having lunch at I’m sitting outside and they are venting a mash boil and the air is full of the smell of fermenting grain and hops. Truly bliss.

  21. I love my local brew pub. The beer is great and they do loads of amazing things in the community. If you click on the URL I’d suggest you check out the video about the band that will be playing in their outdoor stage on Wednesday afternoons later this month. It’s a great story about some surprising performers and reflects the fun, accepting and funky nature of my little city. And marilove, they have an Imperial IPA that would knock your socks off!!

    1. Beer. Blecch. (Reaches for the rum…)

      Before spouting heresy like this you should remember that you’re surrounded by beerlievers.

  22. Looked up American beer on the Internet to buy some here in The Netherlands.
    Wow, I saw some rather fanciful names: Doggie Style, Double Dog, Flying Dog, Great Divide, In Heat, Juju, Gonzo, Left Hand, Snake Bite, Tyre Bite etc.
    Any recommendations?

    1. Yeah. American craft breweries love clever names.

      Double Dog and Flying Dog are both from the “Flying Dog Brewery” I believe. Doggie Style might be as well. I think I’ve had them before. Sometimes they are at Costco, Decent stuff!

      I’m not sure of the others.

      If you can find anything from Stone Brewery or Dogfish Brewery … you will never be the same. Dogfish’s “90 Minute IPA” is glorious if you like hops. Arrogant Bastard, by Stone, is *the* American IPA.

    2. Now there’s nothing wrong with American beer, but there’s a lot of similar beers available in the Netherlands. Those are probably much easier to obtain. If you check the products of Brouwerij de Molen, for instance, you’ll find them quite enjoyable as well. In their store you can buy some American products as well.

      A number of their beers I’ve tried are:
      Lentehop – easy to drink and quite hoppy
      Amarillo – although it’s reasonably strong (9%), it’s not tripel-like or like the sweet stronger Belgium beers, it’s somewhat more hoppy as well
      Rasputin/Tsarina Esra – Russian imperial porter beers strong (10-11%), sweet and (very) hoppy

  23. More than anything in the past, this post and comment thread makes me really really want to know you all in person and drink great beers with you. Maybe I should get my ass out of the house and start attending Chicago events…

  24. Not a beer man, though I’ve tried several varieties (a chocolate stout allllmost did it for me). Gimme a good cider or perry. I brewed one cider with apple/black cherry that was simply excellent.

    1. You might like the sweeter, fruiter Belgian Ales (which I dislike). They sometimes remind me of ciders (depending on the brand).

      Also, do you like coffee?

      Try a really good coffee porter. If done right, they taste exactly like a good cup of joe.

      Also, you say a chocolate stout almost did it for you. Ever think about putting some vanilla ice cream in there and make it a float? This also works well for most porters and stouts (like coffee porters ommmmggg). :)

        1. Tried mead, but it didn’t take either. I wonder if a fruitier version like a methlegin might be better to my taste. I like the sweet stuff.

          1. Some beers are also infused with fruit — I particularly like a certain stout I can’t remember the name of that has raspberries in it.

  25. Great post, Heina. Glad to see so many enthusiasts here.

    Has anybody come across the Cooper’s home brew kits made here in my home city? The stout is pretty damn good in the home brew format.

    Some time back I was churning out home brew stout at the rate of 30 longnecks a fortnight.

    The one secret was to age the brew well – and to be fanatical about sterilisation. Two, two secrets! Also to have accurate temperature control. Three! Among the many secrets…

    Anyway if you come across a Cooper’s kit, maybe give it a try.

    1. Kits? Sacrilege! Real homebrewers write their own recipes. This year my brewing parter and I are even growing our own hops. “Kits” indeed…

      1. Good for you!

        The thing is it was just so easy to keep on going in the same pattern once established, which I did for 8 years.

        It was a good product, and the more you drink, the more money you save! Faultless logic!

  26. Not all beers that use an adjunct are bad. Shiner Bock uses corn as an adjunct and it’s one I try and keep a regular stock of. But it’s summer time now so i’ve got a fridge full of shandies.

  27. Wow, I saw some rather fanciful names: Doggie Style, Double Dog, Flying Dog, Great Divide, In Heat, Juju, Gonzo, Left Hand, Snake Bite, Tyre Bite etc.

    These are mostly my local breweries! When the wind blows from the east I can smell Lefthand. My favorites, like Marilove’s, are the hoppy ones: 400 lb Monkey and Wake Up Dead Stout from Lefthand. I also like Flying Dog’s Farmhouse IPA. This will mostly depend on your taste, however. Which beer styles do you like?

    1. Unlike Marilove I really like the Belgian Ales. Fruity, but not too much. Pilsner/Lager of course, but it has to be hoppy.
      In the autumn I’m partial to a good Bock type beer.

  28. 1. One reason for using Domestic and Imported incorrectly is that restaurants generally lay out their menu and price their beers that way. Big Rock is brewed here in Calgary, but it’s an Import because it’s not bargain-priced like Coors, Bud, Canadian, and Pilsner. Same thing with Rickard’s or Alexander Keith’s. There are definitely better names for the two categories (“Ambrosia” and “Lovemaking In A Canoe” are my top choices), but it still explains why the usage persists.

    2. German-style wheat beer is the most glorious concoction to ever grace our civilization, no question.

    1. That incorrect restaurant/bar usage of “domestic” vs. “imports” vs. “craft” drives me nuts, too. Someday, I’m going to trot into a bar during happy hour and demand that they give me the “domestic” price for beers from breweries like Stone, i.e. that are technically closer to my part of SoCal than the plants from which Bud and its ilk is spawned.

  29. IMO one of the best things about living in Oregon is not just the sheer number of micro and craft breweries (I read once that OR had more breweries than any other state, correct me if I’m wrong) but the innovation that occurs as well. Don’t get me wrong, I really like a good Beligian duppel or Munich helles that’s been made using the same recipe for hundreds of years, but you will never see something from and old world brewery that’s as interesting and new as the black IPA (aka Cascadian dark ale, CDA) that’s become so popular with breweries out here.

    1. Apparently Colorado wins way more beer awards than any other state, by a good amount. I’ll need to google this but I’m pretty sure I’m correct here.

      Quantity doesn’t always mean quality. ;)

      Nah, Oregon has some fine, fine beer.

      That’s where The Deschutes Brewery is located, and I gotta say, as a whole, they come out with some of my favorite beers. Probably second to Stone by a hair. Deschutes is just so consistent and always delicious.

      1. Deschutes is one of my favorite breweries. I *love* Black Butte Porter.

        My favorite brewery is in Colorado, Steamworks in Durango. I used to live next door to their brewery in Bayfield… just a hop over the barbed wire fence to some of the best beer ever.

    1. I hope so. I know next to nothing about beer, yet I love to try different ones. My current favorites: Belhaven St. Andrew’s Ale and Newcastle Brown Ale.

      Beer is like music: You don’t have to know anything about it to enjoy it. But for me, the more I know about it the less I’m able to enjoy it.

      This is the exact opposite of the night sky, where the more I know about it, the more I enjoy it.

      1. And Brew Dog Punk IPA! And St. Austell Proper Job!

        Yeah, I’m an ale guy, though I enjoy a good pilsner/lager.

      2. I love knowing about what beer I’m drinking. The kind of hops they use, the process they utilize.

        If you’ve never taken a tour of a brewery, I HIGHLY suggest you do. You might very well change your mind. It’s really fucking fascinating!

    2. I wrote this because I poured beer for a charity event and it was incredibly frustrating to deal with people asking for “light” beer. Did they want diet beer? Light-colored beer? Light-in-flavor beer?

      If they just asked for what they wanted, it would have been a lot simpler and better for everyone.

  30. Going to Cigar City night at my local World of Beer tonight. 18 different Cigar City brews on tap. It is going to be glorious.

  31. This post fills me with such beer geeky love. Heina, why do you have to be on the other coast?

  32. Omnomnom, beerbeerbeer. Unfortunately my favorite brown ale is no longer distributed in/around Chicago … sadness.

    But chistat, you SHOULD come out! Conveniently, there’s a meetup on Saturday!

  33. To everybody who will be in Minneapolis for SkepchickCon, here is a quick primer on the local beer scene:

    1. Summit is the biggest craft brewer in the area and their EPA (extra pale ale) is the standard. Generally speaking, any bar or restaurant that serves beer probably has Summit EPA. Summit won’t generally surprise you, but they won’t ever disappoint you either.

    2. Grain Belt Premium (or Premo) is the local hipster adjunct lager. You can think of it as the Minneapolis alternative to PBR. We have a big “Grain Belt” sign in the middle of the Mississippi river, just north of downtown. The Hold Steady sing about it in “Party Pit”. Northeast is the hipster district of Minneapolis, and also where Grain Belt used to be brewed, so they cashed in on that connection and created “Nordeast”, which tastes a lot like Grain Belt Premium, but is a bit darker and harder to find.

    3. Surly is the rising star of Minnesota brewing. They brew lots of hoppy / extreme beers, which kind of makes them the Dogfish Head, Stone, or Three Floyds of local brewing. The brewmaster (Todd Haug) is in a metal band and has a long grey beard, so everything about the marketing is a bit edgy. Furious is probably Surly’s most popular brew. It’s red in color and brewed with Scottish malt, but intensely hopped. If you love hops, don’t miss it. Darkness is also legendary, but you won’t find any.

    4. We have a number of excellent brewpubs. Town Hall (and the Town Hall Tap, just a few blocks from my house) make a variety of great beers. Hope & King is a good scotch ale, but Masala Mama IPA is fantastic. If you’re lucky, Mango Mama could also be in season.

    North of the city, Barley John’s is also excellent, although pretty small. Wild Brunette is one of the stand outs in their lineup, although it isn’t always available. It’s a fairly strong brown ale, brewed with wild rice. Wild rice is popular in a lot of Minnesota cuisine and so it adds some local flavor. I can’t stress strongly enough: Wild rice is not actually rice, and Wild Brunette will not taste like Budweiser.

    5. There are a number of other smaller craft breweries and their popular brews to check out:
    Lift Bridge – Farm Girl Saison
    Fulton – Sweet Child of Vine IPA
    Flat Earth – Cygnus X-1 Porter
    Rush River – The Unforgiven Amber Ale
    Harriet Brewing – West Side – Belgian-style IPA
    Steel Toe – Rain Maker Double Red Ale

  34. Because this is a skeptic blog,I would urge everyone who thinks their chosen favorite is the best ever,to put together a double blind beer tasting,and invite all of your beer enthusiast friends to rate the picks from best to worst (use at least 5 or six similar types).
    It is especially fun to watch the ones who are especially biased toward a particular brand (you know who you are) fall on their face trying to predict the outcome. Don’t be surprised if you fail miserably.

      1. So many variables go into how you experience how a beer tastes,such as temperature,packaging appearance and type (can,bottle,glass,shoe…don’t ask),what you have eaten/drank before the beer,setting (beautiful day by the lake with a loved one vs dank, smokey bar that stinks of stale sweat and misery),expectations,appearance (color,foam,body) etc.
        How many times have you had a beer that was really great at one tasting,and seemed quite a bit worse at another (and vice versa).Some beers seem to be really hit and miss (packaging/handling maybe?),I like Shiner beer,but sometimes get a batch that is off,and the same with Newcastle Brown Ale,one day excellent,the next not so much.
        My favorite new brand is Rahr,everything Iv’e had by them has been pretty good.Ugly Pug…yum!

  35. Keep in mind that the American Adjunct Lagers are not even made by American-owned companies. Bud, Miller, Coors all are foreign-owned. Look at the politicians they support too. These companies also bought up many smaller, regional brands in the 1980’s and discontinued them.

    For what its worth, barley domestication was likely driven by its use in beer. A lot of neat evidence for this.

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