What you need to know to drink [Beer] like fantastic.
Follow the DLF instagram and drink what I drink. Use #DLFBeer to show people what you are looking for.
Drink fresh and local. (Only certain beers improve with age like traditional lambics or very high alcohol stouts and barley wines.)
Seek out “post-craft” breweries. A “post-craft” brewery will mostly make only 3 styles of beer; hazy New England style IPAs, fruited kettle sours, and pastry stouts.
Find local independent breweries who make fewer styles. Essentially those focusing in and honing their craft. (not always sure fire but generally a good rule)
Look for breweries making cloudier less filtered beers. Much of the increase in beers yumminess today comes from a better understanding of mouthfeel, and that comes with cloudy. (If a beer is cloudy but wasn’t made to be cloudy, it’s bad, don’t drink it)
Pay attention to the ingredients. If a brewery isn’t telling us what’s in their beer, how can we learn what we like? Again this is not always the rule, but breweries that are at the cutting edge of beer quality tend to tell you what your drinking.
Learn what hops you like. A great hoppy beer will be distinct in its hop flavor.
Learn what adjuncts you like. Adjuncts are all the other stuff brewers put into beer; vanilla beans, coffee, bourbon barrels, passionfruit, and even jolly ranchers.
Ask for hazy New England style IPA’s, pastry stouts, fruited sours, barrel aged stouts and barrel aged sour ales. These are the windows into the new world.
Compare and contrast! Try your favorite beers against these new ones. Try these new beers against newer ones, and so on.
Once you find a place and/or a person you trust to deliver excellent beers, use them as a guide and resource. Believe me, if they are obsessed and great at what they do, they will love to show you the way.
Always try new things and drink what you like. Trust yourself. If it’s yummy, it’s yummy!
It was the week after I turned 21 that I bought my first beer. Yeah, I was a good kid. It was called Hop Wallop, a double IPA from Victory Brewing in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. I don’t remember exactly how it tasted, but I remember the excitement of walking into the package store for the first time ready to buy. I remember the thrill of pushing all the food to the back of my fridge and meticulously lining up twenty-four bottles in symmetrical rows for display. Even now, 15 years later, each time I get fresh beer I arrange it in rows up front. I love doing it, it’s my ritual.
Back then, around 2003, American breweries were on the cusp of something revolutionary, something the rest of the brewing world dare not do: innovate. In the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s breweries were busy copying old world traditions that had been refined over centuries. Standard breweries in the early 2000s offered a range from Bavarian pilsners and lagers, to Belgian doubles and triples, to English porters and bitters, but the attempts to create a truly American brew were tame; unexciting brown, wheat, and red ales that were essentially just more bitter versions of their European counterparts. In 1981 however, a pioneer was brewed when Sierra Nevada created the first American pale ale: an intentionally hop forward beer. The first of its kind.
From frontiers to beer, Americans have a history of taking things to the extreme, and over the course of the next couple decades, beer drinkers developed a strong taste for hops. From 1980 until about 2010, there was an exponential race to put as much hops in beer as physically possible. I’ll spare you the technical details but let’s just say that if there was room for hops at anytime during a beer’s production, brewers would throw them in.
But I hated those IPAs. They were the worst. Bitter, palette destroyers of confused hop flavors and overly complex, cloying malt sweetness that, if not fresh and if exposed to any heat or sunlight at all, were utterly disgusting. So I stuck to big barrel aged stouts, abbey and trappist ales, refreshing hazy wheats, and lambics.
Then something wonderful happened, something I saw coming for years (yes, I’m self-congratulating) and am daily grateful for: crazy-hoppy beers that aren’t bitter. This was the real revelation. Beyond the merely hop forward moment of the 1980’s and 90's, this was the movement in brewing when something new happened that changed beer forever. This was the thought; brew hop-flavored but not hop bitter beers, leave them unfiltered to get a decadent mouthfeel not unlike a traditional hazy Bavarian Hefeweizen, and you’ve got a masterpiece: the Hazy New England style IPA. Minds blown. IPA redeemed.
If hops were a trend a decade ago, today they have cult-like status. People, myself included, will stand in line for 8-20 hours for a single beer. Happily. A can release can be announced on social media a mere 24 hours prior, and it’s not uncommon for 300 eager beer nerds to show up the following morning, hours before the brewery opens. Because that’s how good this new, post-craft beer really is. That said, there are tons of great beers that don’t require a 20 hour wait, road trips to breweries, or hawk like attention on social media. Beer nerds just tend to love the chase and community surrounding it almost (not quite) as much as the beer.
The beer world has lost its mind, but for good reason. Beer today, coming from a growing niche of mostly American breweries, is the best beer ever made. We're in the midst of a brewing revolution that's changing the landscape of beer. Not only have IPAs been reinvented as super dope hazy, floral, citrusy juice bombs, but stouts are the biggest, chocolat-iest, vanilla-iest, coconut-iest, and whisky-est they’ve ever been, and brewers are still honing in recipes and improving. Sour beers today taste like tart candy and natural wine. Beer is quickly claiming its spot as a refined beverage, and some of the more prized bottles pull a higher price than most wines. Don’t get me wrong, beer is still an everyday drink for everybody, it’s just diversifying its portfolio.
Beer has changed. We are no longer in the craft beer era, some have mused that craft beer is dead, and what has risen from it’s steaming mashes is post-craft beer. Breweries are making the most delicious beers ever, and chances are there's one close to you. To drink beer like fantastic, all we have to do is find it. And that’s what I’m devoted to doing here—finding the best breweries and brews in the world and telling you about them.