16/01/20185 min of reading

Drink Beer 101 – The art of drinking beer

Drink Beer 101 may sound like the ultimate beer-geek username, but it’s actually an important part of becoming a Craft connoisseur, an ale aficionado, a true casketeer, a Beer Geek. With Craft Beers ranging in price from pocket money to squeak-inducing second-mortgage expensive, it’s especially important to know how to appreciate your beer.

There’s nothing worse than waiting for your order to be delivered, then slogging through the nine-to-five all week, only to arrive at Friday evening and be disappointed by your much-anticipated Craft Beer. So how do you ensure your Craft Beer is perfectly served? Well, to answer this question, we spoke to Hopt’s in-house Beer Geeks, Purchasing Manager – we prefer to call him our Beer Hunter - Oswin, and our Social Media Guru – or Manic Beer Preacher, more accurately - Florian to get a few top-tips.

Time gentlemen, please!

It’s all about time. As we’ve already seen, whether you’re a confirmed Craft Beer nut, or you’re just starting out on your journey, one of the hardest things to deal with is the anticipation. The natural reaction to getting your hands on your latest Craft Beer is to reach for the bottle opener and get the cap off as quick as you can. It’s natural, we know, but try to resist the urge.

“So, some Craft Beers are filtered, others are naturally cloudy, like Blanche or New England IPA. On the one hand there’s nothing to float around in the beer, while on the other hand you’ll be waiting a LONG time before your Blanche clears off.” Oswin tells us “Others have natural yeast deposits – you’ll often see a layer of yeast at the bottom of the bottle – and when this gets disturbed it can seriously affect the texture and flavour of your beer. So, you need to give it time to settle.”

Start by checking the label to see if your beer needs time to rest after it arrives at your place. Brewers often add a message like “Allow 24 hours for yeast deposits to settle”. You can also find masses of information on the internet about what styles need to the time to put their feet up – starting with the brewer’s website.

Chill out!

Beer temperature is a constant source of disagreement. During WWII, the main complaint from American GIs stationed in the UK was the beer was warm (and that the weather/people were cold).

But it’s not as simple as ‘all beer should be served cold’. Like fine wine, great beer needs to be served at the right temperature.

According to Florian, “As a general rule, the darker the beer, the warmer it needs to be served. So, a Pilsner needs to be served around at 4-6°C, or a Pale Ale 6-8°C, to fully appreciate the cool, crisp, refreshing character.” He explains, “Conversely, an Imperial Stout needs to be served at 12-14°C, even up to room-temperature to release the full flavour and alcohol profile.”

Likewise, the stronger the beer, the warmer it is served. Of course, like all rules, this one isn’t perfect. “For instance, a IIPA needs to be relatively cool to keep the alcohol note in check,” Oswin tells us “but not so much that it kills the hops character.”


13–16°C: Barley Wine, Belgian Strong Ales, Imperial Stouts, and Doppelbocks 

10–13°C: Bocks, English Bitter and Mild, Belgian ales, Sour Ale, Scotch Ale

8–10°C: IPA, American Pale Ales, Porters, Stouts

5-7°C: Pilsner, Munich Helles, Blanche, and Kölsch

4°C: Industrial Lager

Those glasses really suit you!

Not only is drinking beer from the bottle horribly uncool – thankfully we left that kind of crap back in the 1990s where it belongs – it also kills the flavour of your beer. Most of what you can taste actually comes from the nose, so if you’re only sucking your beer from the neck of the bottle (Ok, so sometimes you don’t have a choice – or a glass!), then you’re missing out on a whole lot of flavour.

There’s no way around it, good beer deserves the right glassware. And the best place to start is your drinks cabinet. If you don’t own a beer glass, then it’s time to go back to basics.

“You can drink just about any beer from a balloon wine glass.” Says Oswin “The bigger, the better, but as long as you can get you nose in for a really good sniff, then it’s just about perfect.”

Nevertheless, ever since Craft Beer has become a thing, breweries and the Craft Beer cognoscenti have become much more conscious of the need for glassware tailored to modern beer styles.

A few years ago, designers and brewers came together to create two glass styles, the Teku – a classy looking piece of modern stemware – and the Craft Master – a kind of half-pint glass designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Designed to let your beer breathe and release its essential character, between them these are probably the only beer glasses you’ll ever need, as you squeeze the very last drop of flavour out of your latest discovery.


The last thing you’ll need as you pick your way through the uncharted waters of Craft Beer is a little perseverance. Like Mom always said, ‘it would be a boring old world if everyone liked the same things’, and the same goes for Craft Beer.

With as many styles as there are days of the year, and with enough individual brews to fill up a lifetime, then there are bound to be some that you don’t go crazy-ape-bonkers about. Some beer styles just won’t make you hop, but there’s enough good quality ‘pocket money’ beers out there, costing just a few Euros, that you can try out different styles until you’re sure of the ones you like.

“Why not try keeping a tasting diary? Make a note of the style, the brewery, the individual character of each beer you taste – the colour, the head, the dominant flavours, the subtle undertones, the carbonation all play a part in making each beer individual. It’ll help you build up a picture of what makes you tick!” says Florian.

So, there you go, a brief introduction to a whole world of beer tasting. The rest is up to you, but one thing’s for sure: you’ll never run out of beer styles to try!


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