(as featured in Froth magazine #44, September 2019)
Beer, the cheeky thing. It’s a part of our culture. Ingrained in our lexicon. We toil hard. We earned a thirst. We slam it down. It’s the social lubricant. The amber fluid. Nectar of the Gods.
Have we been drinking it correctly though? Sure, beer is great, but have you unlocked its full potential? Not sure? Well this small guide is time tested, thoroughly peer reviewed, and will fit neatly into your mobile phone case for quick reference.
There’s so many beers to choose from these days, what do I do? Firstly, look around you. Where are you? What can you see on tap? Does everything look familiar? Time to change bars. Alright, are you somewhere new? Have a look at the taps. Any beers you don’t know? Great, time to pick a beer. You can see a lager, but it’s from a brewery you’ve never heard of. Get that one? Rookie mistake! While playing it safe and choosing a beer style you like is totally okay, picking the lager is a little too safe. You might as well burn this guide and just buy whatever is on the front page of a Dan Murphy’s catalogue. Instead, ask the bartender what their recommendation is. Did they pick the lager? Uh-oh, gotta change bars again. Was it something you weren’t sure of? Great! Time to move onto the next step.
Every beer should be consumed from a glass. Is your beer in a bottle? Pour it into a glass. In a can? Into a glass. Does the can say “Enjoy from the can”? Into a glass. Served to you in a glass? Ask for another glass. But what glassware is correct for your beer?
This is an incredibly important decision. Glassware is the first step of beer enjoyment and appreciation, make a mistake here and you’ll set off a chain reaction of gaffes that will leave you not only ostracized from your present company, but worst of all, not savouring your beer. Some would say the best glass is the one in your hand. Incorrect. Others would dictate that each beer style has its own associated vessel. Also not true. Which glass is it then? It’s really very simple and actually quite hard to go wrong here. Every beer from every brewery has its own glass. The Boatrocker Ramjet 2015? It’s own glass. 2016? Own glass. 3 Ravens Juicy IPA series? Individual glasses. The Clout Stout in your cellar from 2012? I hope you kept the glass. Always ask your bottleshop or bartender for the correct glassware for your beer, I assure you they will appreciate it.
An oft skipped but incredibly important step in beer etiquette is toasting. When enjoying a beer with your friends, saluting them with your glass is not only a sign of mutual respect for each other, but also an acknowledgement of all the beer that has come before. The history of the toast is woven through many cultures, however the ritual can be traced back to the first brewer’s themselves, raising their beers to the hoppy heavens, the clinking of their ceramic steins said to ward off nearby teetotallers intent to poop their party. So how exactly do you toast? In six easy steps, repeated once per round:
The Raise: Get that glass good and high. How high? Higher.
The Eye: Look at your comrades. Stare right at their optic nerves. Do not blink.
The Clink: Knock those vessels together. Not too high, not too low. Hear the sweet music. Drink it in. Do not blink.
The Chant: In unison, sing to the heavens. “Cheers c**ts”
The Sip: Bring it to your lips. Tilt. Imbibe. Just a little bit. This is a ritual, not a party. Let your eyes water. Do not blink.
The Place: Bring the glass down to the table. Once the receptacle meets solid ground, you may unlock your gaze.
All steps are mandatory, skip one and find yourself on a trip back to the bar for the next round.
Your beer is in the accompanying glass, you’ve toasted your acquaintances, now what? Is it time to drink yet? No. Now is the time to judge.
Bring the glass to your face. Get your nose in it. Inhale it. What is that? Earthy...no, floral. Not sure? It doesn’t matter, taste is subjective, and you are only wrong if you differ from others. Bring it up to the light. Look through it. What can you see? Hopefully beer. If you don’t see beer you may have taken a wrong turn, go back to the start of the article and begin again. If it is beer then look around. Is someone watching you hold it up to the light? If not, wait until they do. Someone saw you? Perfect, it’s time to get it to your gob.
Have a taste. How does it feel? Is it chewy? Juicy? Noone will know, just pick a word. Roll it around your tongue. Close your eyes. Swallow. How was it? Did you like it? You did? Then have another go. It’s time to relax and enjoy the rest of the pint. Didn’t like it? Tell everyone. Get on those group pages and let the world know. Copy. Paste. Feel the notifications at your fingertips. Deliver it to a sink. Take a photo. The world is waiting.
You’ve completed the steps and have found yourself devoid of beer. That’s okay, you ticked every box and suddenly the world feels a little different. It’s okay to feel like you have wasted time, that all past beers were treated with disrespect. It’s perfectly natural, but it is in the past. You now have the knowledge to move forward. Every morning will be brighter, every step lighter, a new found self-respect. Share your knowledge. Preach. Bring joy to those that bring you joy. If you find yourself slipping back into old habits it’s okay, reach for this guide and remember how you first felt when you reached that enlightenment. Then get another beer.