Lose weight. Go to bed earlier. Balance your checkbook every week. Boring. Get serious about your beer education in 2014? Now that’s a resolution that you can stick to! If you’re interested in learning more about craft beer, developing your palate, or even becoming a certified beer geek, here are some ways to get started on your beer journey in 2014.
There’s no escaping two facts about taking notes while tasting a beer. One: It makes you look like a huge nerd. And two: It makes you a better taster. Just the act of jotting down what you taste and smell and perceive will hone your tastebuds into a scalpel-sharp instrument. We’re all adults here, and at least we’re not doing the whole snort, swirl and spit routine.
Do some book learning.
We’ve offered beer book suggestions in the past, and the baseline of knowledge offered by books such as Randy Mosher’s “Tasting Beer” or Joel Bernstein’s “The Complete Beer Course” are great places to start on getting serious about craft beer appreciation. Both books are packed with information and are endlessly perusable.
Take a class.
Unfortunately, there is not an abundance of organized beer education available in Los Angeles, but if you are patient you can find some opportunities. Eagle Rock Brewery regularly holds classes on different beer topics in their tasting room. If you’re a woman, the monthly Women’s Beer Forums hosted by brewery co-owner Ting Su is one of the best ways to learn the ins-and-outs of craft beer.
Discover new styles.
Craft beer is so much more than wheat beers and India Pale Ales, and there’s a flavorful style for every predilection. Hit up a local craft beer retailer and ask the staff for some off-the-beaten-path recommendations. Or, when in doubt, head to the Belgian imports section and grab something new.
Learn to brew.
You think craft beer is spreading like wildfire? Homebrewing is growing even quicker, and it’s never been easier to learn the craft of making your own brew in the kitchen. Check out the how-to articles on sites such as the Brewing Network or visit your local homebrew club, whose members will be happy to help you get started.
Already well on your way to being a craft beer expert? Switch it up and go to some wine tastings or try whiskey flights. Your palate will get a workout and your ability to discern flavors will improve.
The wine world has the sommelier -- a venerable and honored profession of wine stewardship -- and now the craft beer world has the Cicerone Certification Program -- a three-tiered program that’s “the industry standard for identifying those with significant knowledge and professional skills in beer sales and service.” The first level -- Certified Beer Server -- is an online exam covering beer styles and service, while the second level -- Certified Cicerone -- requires months of study culminating in a four-hour written and tasting exam. Pass that, and you’re a bona fide beer expert.