New beer styles seem to emerge (or re-emerge) almost every week. Once you think you decided that you like an IPA, along comes the New England-style IPA (NEIPA), Double IPA (DIPA), West Coast IPA, Brut IPA … the list goes on and on. What are the differences? If I like this, will I like that? That conversation could be a post of its own.

What Are Hops?

For this post, we’re going to talk about one of beer’s four main ingredients … hops. Hops are those magical little cone-shaped plants that impart flavor, aroma, and some preservative qualities to beer. Hops can bring bitterness, sweetness, citrus flavors … it all depends on which hop or combination of hops the brewer chooses to use. Although there are only about 80 different types of hop plants, with cross-breeding and experimentation, the number of hops that can actually be used is difficult to pin down. This list from morebeer.com explains a bit about many of them, as well as the flavors they typically impart.

But there’s more to it than just adding hops to the brewing process. You may hear terms like DDH (double-dry hopped), dry hopping, wet hopping, dried hops, wet hops, fresh hops. What does it all mean? And what do these processes do to a beer?

Dry-Hopping

Simply put, dry-hopping is the process of dumping some hops into the beer within a few days of the bottling process. Brewers may arm-wrestle on when it’s best to do this: (one school of thought is to do so 2 weeks before bottling, allowing the flavors to meld. The other thought is to add dry-hop about 3-5 days before bottling, which brings the maximum aroma to the finished product.) Regardless, dry-hopping does not add to the bitterness of a beer. It simply extracts aroma and some hop flavor to the beer, without affecting the bitterness. Hops added early in the brewing process break down – that’s what brings the bitter to the party. Back to dry-hopping … this process releases aroma and hop flavor, but it doesn’t break the hop down, releasing the plant’s oils and resulting bitterness into the beer. If you’re reading between the lines here – yes, you’re correct. Hop flavor does not necessarily equate to bitterness. If you’ve ever smelled a beer and thought, “that smells like grapefruit,” it’s likely that you’re smelling a hop varietal that brings that aroma … not grapefruit added to the beer.

What is DDH, or Double Dry-Hopping?

The DDH-style beers (double dry-hopped) is basically the same thing, but with an additional round of dry-hopping.

Wet-Hopping

To understand wet-hopping, we must first understand the hop harvesting process. Most hops are kiln-dried almost as soon as they’re picked. From there, they’re formed into little pellets that are then shipped to brewers, ready to be added to the process. Some harvested hops are dried and left in the full cone form (not pelletized, while some others remain ‘wet.’) Wet hops are harvested and are ready to be added to the brewing process. And that’s the tricky part. Freshly-harvested hops have a very short shelf life and need to be used with 24-ish hours of being harvested. Since almost all US hops come from the Pacific Northwest, most true wet hop beers are going to come from the left coast. Since these aren’t pelletized, their flavors are less concentrated and therefore do not bring the same level of flavor or bitterness as the kiln-dried cousins. The main benefit is the addition of earthy, almost grassy, flavors to the beer.

Also, Fresh-Hopping is basically the same thing as Wet-Hopping, but these hops are kiln-dried in full cone form. This is a compromise between the longer shelf life of kiln-dried pelletized hops and the less concentrated earthy flavors of wet hops.

 

Does this help? Well, for now, hopefully. I’m sure that a new IPA varietal will come along tomorrow, making us write an update to this post. For now … happy drinking!

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

Since the dawn of man, we have exhibited a bizarre and innate desire to compare and contrast. It’s not enough to be good … is it better or worse than something else? Here some things I have heard debated …

  • What’s the most important invention of all time? Fire, paper, or the internet?
  • Who would win a one-on-one basketball game? Michael Jordan or Wilt Chamberlain?
  • What’s the most disappointing movie sequel of all-time? Actually, there’s no debate here – it’s Caddyshack 2.

Along with debates like these, you’ve also likely run across lists of “The Best ____” in each state, city, region, etc. Just like the comparison game, these lists are incredibly subjective and prone to massive leaps of faith and logic in order to come to a nice, tidy conclusion. More often than not, they’re just there for the click-bait and actually hope that you’ll hate what they shared. Because if you’re angry, you share and comment … and they get more hits.

Knowing this, I’m still here to discuss a list that I found particularly egregious in their flawed logic. This particular list used only fact-based criteria in order to create the content, which is certainly laudable. But there are two steps to create a fact-based list that actually carries some credibility: 1) stick to the numbers, and 2) use numbers that actually matter and prove the point. Groupon ignored the latter. In a recently published article, Groupon set out to list the “Best State for Beer Lovers.” Intrigued by the title, I dove in. My first stop was at the metrics used to create the list. After all – “best state for beer” can be a very subjective discussion, and I couldn’t imagine how they’d come to their conclusions. Thankfully, they shared the three main data points:

QUALITY

Groupon proudly shares that their quality ranking is based on “each state’s top 5-rated beer scores on BeerAdvocate.com.” Wait, are they serious? Top five? Meaning 5? ONLY 5?? Ummmm, based on that theory … if one brewery churned out the 5 greatest beers in the world, and literally every other beer in the state was complete garbage, this state would be ranked as having the highest quality. That’s a bold strategy, Cotton.

AFFORDABILITY

I’m going to paste this one directly. Because you can’t make this stuff up.
“The overall affordability ranking considered both the cost of a 12oz. Miller Lite in bars and the cost of a 24-pack of Miller Lite or Bud Light in stores (Total Wine and Walmart, specifically).”  I’m sorry, but what? You’re going to base the results of a study on the best states for BEER LOVERS on the average price of MILLER LITE??? Checking the calendar …. confirmed. This is not April 1st. They’re actually serious.

ENTHUSIASM

Groupon went straight into patting-themselves-on-the-back mode here. They looked for the number of beer-related Groupons offered per 1,000 residents. This could only barely, tangentially be related to beer-related enthusiasm. I’m stretching to give them a sliver of credit on this one. And it’s a massive, massive stretch. How about average line length at bottle releases?

 

To say this list was patently laughable is a gross understatement. But at least we now know that Michigan is a great place to go for cheap Miller Lite and Nevada churns out Groupons like crazy. I’ll sleep better tonight. If you’d like a less ridiculous list than Groupon’s version, try this one from Beer Connoisseur. I particularly appreciate their disclaimer at the bottom:

Building a list ranking the 50 states of brewing is incredibly hard. There’s no way to effectively quantify or qualify a state’s beer scene. With more than 7,000 breweries in the U.S., there’s plenty of quality beer in each state as well as exceptionally gifted brewers perfecting their craft.

The takeaway? Read all of these lists online with a salt lick-sized grain of salt. Except for the ones BabyGotBeer creates. Those are completely legit.

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

Frequent visitors to BGB will certainly know that we don’t always celebrate beer from our industry’s massive brewing conglomerates. But we also know and understand that we need to give credit where credit is due. Bud Light (and Ab-InBev) received a lot of publicity for their “No Corn Syrup Added” campaign first unveiled during the Super Bowl. On the other hand, the nation’s corn farmers fired back with a salvo of criticism directed at the brewing giant.

Today, AB-InBev announced their version of an olive branch. We received an advance 6-pack of a clever new beer … Bud Light Corn. It’s a compromise of sorts, while attempting to appease the corn lobby by making a corn-based beer, ABIB is sticking to their guns and somehow brewing this beer without adding corn syrup. A crazy feat of brewing ingenuity! And now for the beer review …

The taste is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. It’s a delicious and intoxicating combination of flavors. Think creamed corn mixed with a flavorless bubbly yellow liquid. Crazy levels of sweetness from the corn, mixed with … basically no flavor from the beer … combines to really send a shock to the system. And weighing in a 2.3% ABV with zero IBUs, it’s really crushable. You can drink these all day long and not feel a thing! And, in an interesting subplot, corn carries a massive amount of carbs. Take THAT, all you Mic Ultra-loving freaks!

 

Here’s to you Ab-InBev. Kudos for heeding the call of the masses, creating a beer that appeases your detractors while still holding true to your roots – providing America with a flavorless liquid masquerading as beer.

Stay tuned as we preview some more new releases in the coming weeks, as AB-InBev and Miller Coors try to reach new audiences:

  • Miller HighER Life. Now made with real Cannabis Oil!
  • Mic Ultra Peach Mango Salsa. Muy caliente!
  • Coors Light Buffalo-Blue Cheese. Maybe it will finally have some flavor …

 

 

And oh by the way. If you haven’t figured it out already, Happy April Fools Day!

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

So, you’re off to the big beer fest or heading out with friends for a night on the town. You’re not in college anymore: knocking back a dozen light beers, 3 tequila shots, 4 slices of midnight pizza – and then expecting to recover quickly the next day … it’s just not gonna happen. We’ve grown slightly older and have hopefully learned from some of those past benders (some of us needed more ‘lessons’ than others.) Now we know that it’s important to pre-game if we’re going to imbibe later in the day. There is a delicate balance in play here: don’t eat enough or have the wrong foods, and we could be face down in the dumpster two-hours into the festival. Eat too much, and we feel like we’re waddling into the event and too packed full to consider anything other than Pepto-Bismol. Here’s a quick crash course on foods to include, foods to avoid, and portion sizes … all designed to maximize the fun of the day.

BabyGotBeer is off to cover the 2019 Roswell Beer Festival on Saturday. There are nearly 500 beers there. No, we won’t try them all, but we need to plan the morning and afternoon properly so that we can fully take advantage.

What to Eat

The key here is to put enough of the right type of food into your system so that you don’t feel gross and jacked full, but also to have food that is digested more slowly. If you knock back a plate of something greasy, it’ll disappear too quickly, and you’ve defeated the purpose. Here are some foods you should consider incorporating into the pre-game meal:

  • Healthy fats/ proteins. These take a long time to digest will slow the process of alcohol absorption. Think avocado, salmon, grilled chicken etc.
  • Something high in potassium. You lose potassium when you pee, so things like baked potatoes and milk are a good way to counterbalance that loss. I wonder if a milk stout has the same effect?
  • Fruits and veggies. They’re loaded with water, so it’s a good way to start the hydration process before you even start.
  • Water. Duh … early and often.
  • Pasta. We all know about carb-loading. Pasta is a good way to go. Maintains your glycogen levels and keeps you full longer.
  • Cereal. Yes – knock back some Honey Nut Cheerios. High in fiber, it digests slowly and provides a nice pause button on alcohol into the bloodstream.
  • Eggs. they carry the protein mentioned before but also contain amino acids that help to break down the alcohol faster.

 

Portion Sizes

Take it easy. If you have a massive plate of pasta with a 12-ounce piece of salmon on top, yes you followed the rules above quite nicely. But now you’re so full that the thought of a sip of stout makes you think you’re either Violet the Blueberry in Willy Wonka or that huge, fat guy in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life. You’re going to explode! So, let’s throttle back on portion sizes here. Again, we’re looking for a healthy balance of the right foods and the right portion sizes. Protein … size of your fist. NO MORE THAN THAT. You’re not at a Brazilian steak house … no meat sweats today. Just enough to have a nice fill.

And if you need snacks during the day, nuts, olives … small & light snacks are the only way to go!

 

What to Avoid

  • Sugar. Alcohol is sugar. Adding more sugary components will really mess with blood sugar levels.
  • Fried foods. Good fats good. Bad fats bad. Your stomach has enough issue digesting fast food. And they usually are loaded with salt, which leads to massive dehydration.
  • Side Salad. There’s just no substance to it. It won’t slow down alcohol absorption at all, and it isn’t substantial enough to do any good. But it sure is healthy!
  • Tomatoes/ spicy foods. You’re already attacking your stomach – don’t make it worse with acidic foods that will only worsen that assault.
  • Caffeine. Caffeine jacks you up and can make you think that you can handle more when you really can’t. Add an alcohol crash onto a caffeine crash … you’re done.
  • Salt. It can make you feel bloated, which sucks enough. But psychologically, it also makes you less likely to drink the water you need. Dehydration is the enemy.

Plan ahead, boys and girls, you (and pretty much everyone you encounter later that day) will thank you.

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

The bottle share. A gathering of folks who enjoy trying new beers and more importantly, enjoying them in the company of friends, new and old. It has the potential to be a fantastic evening – a chance to experiment with and experience beers and styles you wouldn’t normally try. It’s one of my favorite exbeeriences out there, but it also has some potential pitfalls or issues. Below is a list of what to know, what to do, and what to avoid. We even have some bonus tips for the host(s).

What to Know

  • How much beer do I bring?
    In general, you want to bring enough for everyone to have a taste, certainly not enough for everyone to have a full pour. This event isn’t about drinking tons of beer and getting hammered – it’s about trying many different styles and beers. Rule of thumb – find out the expected number of guests and try to have enough for everyone to have 2-3 ounces.
  • What beer should I bring?
    First, find out from the host if there is a theme. In my experience, there almost always will not be a theme. In that case, your host should set the expectations on the level of beer to bring. Some shares are for whales – those eternally sought-after and extremely rare & expensive beers. You can’t roll into a whale share with your year-round flagship from the brewery down the street. Sure, you can still stay and play, but most people will be thinking, “Thanks for the Sierra Nevada … now enjoy some of the Pliny the Younger I brought.” I recommend bringing something fun and different – don’t just grab a sixer of the first thing you see on the shelf. Maybe this is an opportunity to get a growler from the local brewery – a seasonal or a first-time release that most people probably haven’t had yet. You don’t have to sell a major organ to attend, but no one wants your fridge turds* either.
    * Fridge turd. The ‘just okay’ beer that’s been sitting in the back of your fridge for who-knows-how-long.
  • Should I eat before I go?
    Basically, yes. You’re going to taste a wide variety of beers. Doing so on an empty stomach could cause … problems. It’s a good idea to have a nice meal before you go (unless your host explicitly tells you that dinner will be provided.) On the other hand, you don’t want to power through the meat sweats at the all-you-can-eat and waddle in either. You’ll probably have some thick and heavy stuff coming your way during the share – you will not enjoy it if you’re stuffed to the rafters when you arrive.

What to Do

  • Bring enough beer for everyone to enjoy. If you only have one bottle of that crazy-amazing beer you want to share and there will be 10 people attending, leave it at home. There is no way to really share such a small amount with that number of people. If you can’t bring enough for everyone to have a good taste, leave it at home and enjoy it at another time.
  • Try. Be open-minded. Maybe you’re not into Double IPAs, but the person who brought this one probably spent time (and certainly money) to bring this particular beer. Give it a real and honest, open-minded try. It’s only a few ounces anyway, right?
  • Know your limitations. We’re big boys and big girls now. We know when we’ve had enough. There is nothing wrong with taking a break or just tapping out for good. No harm in that at all. That leads into …
  • Water. Water is your friend here. You don’t need to saddle up with the garden hose, but an ounce or three between each beer will go a long way. And it’ll help cleanse the palate for the next beer, too.
  • Ask if someone wants your pour. If you don’t like a beer, that’s absolutely fine. But don’t pour it down the drain or force it into your own stomach. Maybe someone loved it and would like an additional sip. Offer it up if it’s not for you.

What NOT to Do

  • Do not show up late and try to catch up.
  • Drive. C’mon people. In the age of Uber/Lyft, there is absolutely NO reason to get behind the wheel. None. Zero. Zip. Nada.
  • Show up with extra friends. The host is planning this thing, and people are planning how much beer to bring. “Cousin Eddie made a surprise visit to the house, so I thought I’d let him tag along.” No. If you have someone you’d like to bring, ask the host first.
  • Open someone else’s beer. Unless they ask you to, wait for them to open what they brought. It’s just good etiquette.
  • Bash someone else’s beer. Again – they put thought into this and are excited to share it. If it’s not for you, that’s fine. If they ask you your opinions on it, it’s fine to say that it wasn’t for you. But don’t be an ass about it.
  • Get offended if someone else doesn’t like your favorite beer. Just like the previous line, we all have different tastes and preferences. That’s the best part about these shares!
  • Crack open another bomber when the evening is done. We all know when it’s closing time. People are calling their rides and you pop open a Russian Imperial Stout. Just … no. It’s okay to leave it as a gift for the host or put it back in your cooler for another day.

Notes for the Host(s)

  • Give some guidance on the evening in advance of the share.
    • Is there a theme? All Belgians, all IPAs, etc. Most shares do not have a theme.
    • Give an idea of the rarity-level of the beers being brought. (In other words, if you know you have several people bringing whales, it’s best to set that expectation before people arrive.)
    • Will you provide any food or snacks? More on this below.
    • Set very clear times. It’s up to the guests to get there on time, as noted above. However, it’s best to let people know in advance that this will not turn into a crazy all-nighter with people crashing on your couch.
  • Snacks. At the very least, have some pretzels, peanuts, crackers, etc on hand. You can order pizza too, but you have to have something for people to nosh on.
  • Doesn’t hurt to have a cooler and ice on hand.
  • Provide water. Again, this isn’t a scene from Animal House. Alternating between beer and water is essential to maintaining sanity … and not feeling zombie-like the next day.
  • Provide plastic cups or glassware. I can go either way on this one. Yes, plastic is easy and cheap, but not always ideal for serving beer. Glass is certainly better, but unless you want to roll out 100 glasses, people will continually be rinsing their glasses out or pouring an IPA on the remnants of an amber. To me, a boatload of plastic cups is the best way to go. If you do go with plastic, make sure they’re clear – you want people to see the color of the beer.
  • Consider a dry-erase board. You can list the beers you have in order, so people don’t have to spend all night searching through Untappd.

    Not a bad night!
  • Consider the sequence … the order you have certain styles. You’re not going to start with a barleywine and then follow it up with a pilsner and then a Double IPA. General rule of 👍🏼, lighter –> darker/ heavier.
  • The Kill-Shot. It’s the giant reveal at the end of the night. You line up all the cans-bottles-growlers that you had for the night and take one big final photo of the vanquished. Some would say it’s the most important part of the share!

What tips would you offer?

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

Cheers! This post is officially 100th post that we have put up on BabyGotBeer. Instead of just reviewing another beer, addressing another issue du jour, or discussing current events, let’s take a ride down memory lane and walk through the 10 most popular posts we’ve ever had. Thank you to EVERYONE who has stayed with us through the years … sharing, commenting, suggesting, supporting, SHARING, liking, (did I say sharing?) We wouldn’t be here without you, and we have big plans for the future as well! Just so you know, what started out as a fun little side project now received about 10 times as many hits as we did at the beginning. The growth is real, and we think it will continue. Thank you for sharing the site and the posts with your communities … that’s how the word really gets out and goes to all corners of the globe. (Seriously, we have hits from 10 countries which shocks me to my very core.)

Enough with all of the sappy stuff, and with apologies to David Letterman, here are the Top 10 BabyGotBeer posts of all-time (based on total number of visitors):

10. So … How Was It? (March 27, 2018)

This was actually the second in a two-part series discussing the Roswell Beer Fest. We led into the event with a discussion on how to gameplan for a large festival. And this post was the synopsis of the event … the layout, the day, the beer, the PLAN (and how well it worked), etc. Spoiler alert: the event was awesome, and we already have March 23, 2019 circled on the calendar for next year!

9. The Brewery Vibe, Part I (June 19, 2018)

This was the first in a series that currently has three parts, but will likely have many more to come (because y’all obviously love these posts from Russ.) This first post in the series was more generic in nature … why do we love breweries? What is it about the visit that is intoxicating (no, not THAT kind of intoxicating) and has us wanting to come back time and again. It’s not always just about the beer … it’s about the vibe.

8. Tuesday Brewsday, Week 6 (October 9, 2018)

Obviously the 6th in the series that’s running this fall. I guess we have a lot of Texas Longhorns that read the blog because this recap of the Red River Rivalry just kept getting hits. Or maybe it’s the only one in the series (so far) that has highlighted a bar/ pub, rather than a brewery. I don’t know what it was, but this one went kinda nuts … in a good way.

7. So. Many. Choices. (March 21, 2018)

Okay, so the sequel to this post weighed in at #10 on this list, and now we have the original coming in at #7. In this post, we faced the daunting challenge of how to attack a beer festival (like the one in Roswell) that offers so many beer choices … this event had almost 400 beers. I laid out a strategy, trying to make sure I avoided the dreaded FOMOOB!

6. Beer Bloggers Conference, Day One (August 9, 2018)

As you might guess, this post was a synopsis of our first day in DC/ Virginia/ Delaware for the Beer Bloggers Conference in August. From a flight at lunch to the bus ride into Delaware and then the next level tour of Dogfish Head (complete with flight, dinner, fireside chat with the founder and a bottle of DHF 120 from 2008), it was a pretty ridiculous day!

5. Tuesday Brewsday, Part 3 (September 18, 2018)

And once again, you guys are digging on these #TuesdayBrewsday posts. This one was a recap of the Oklahoma State – Boise State matchup. I have a feeling that this one may have been aided by a lot of social sharing from some friends who recently moved to Boise and adopted the Broncos as a surrogate team. Ya see what sharing can do for a fledgling blog like this one???

4. Taco Mac (December 17, 2013)

Taking a trip in the wayback machine, this post goes back to our humble beginnings. Only having recently started  in the blogosphere, this review of Taco Mac (and more specifically, their Brewniversity rewards program) went our version of ‘viral.’ Reading it today, a lot of the facts about the program have changed, mostly on the rewards by level. But the review is still on point!

3. Have we gone too far? (August 2, 2018)

In a very rare case, we actually attempted to address a growing issue in the beer universe with this post. We almost always go with the more light-hearted side of the industry. But we wanted to take a stand against … beershaming. Too many people are taking joy in shaming people’s posts about beer online. There’s no reason to bash someone for what they like or because their glass isn’t perfect.

2. Review: Wild Leap Alpha Abstraction Vol. 3 (October 10, 2018)

Okay … this one shocked to my very core. Once this blog was posted, it just kept growing and growing and growing. I don’t know what the secret sauce was that made this one (simple) beer review continue to get hits for such a long stretch. Maybe because it was the new “it” beer of the week and people wanted to read about it. I don’t know what it was, but I definitely am not complaining!

1. College Football Meets Beer (September 15, 2016)

As much as the #2 post surprised me with its popularity, #1 on this is no surprise at all. We attempted to marry beer with college football … all done in a silly and playful way. We took the opportunity to find a beer that would be the perfect stereotype for every SEC team’s fanbase … taking equal opportunity to lampoon the lunatic fringe from each school. Beer + college football … this one had all the ingredients to be a winner.

And that’s a wrap on 100 posts! Please comment below with any topics you’d like us to cover for the next 100 posts. And, if I haven’t mentioned this already, please share these posts with friends, family, neighbors, co-workers. Thank you!!

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

Many of you who know me are aware of the fact that I have been working on shedding a few pounds this year. I’ve had varying levels of success, mostly when I pay attention and focus. My theory has been that cutting back on total calories consumed for the day … staying under a certain number of calories … leads to weight loss. And it works.

Now, this is a beer blog, and you’re wondering what on Earth I’m talking about. I cannot tell you how many people have said, “I guess your new weight loss plan has made you give up the beer, right?” No. Never. If I budget my calories correctly, I can still enjoy beer at night. (And maybe have an occasional cheat day.) It’s all about planning. And that’s where this post comes into play.

There are several apps that I have used that will help you track your calories. Think MyFitnessPal, et al. Enter a food item (or even scan its barcode), and the app will list the calories associated with it. Easy peasy. But what about beer? New beers, special releases, and barrel-aged one-offs come up every few minutes; it’s essentially impossible for a database to track all of those. So how can you know how bad you’re being? If only there were a handy-dandy rule of thumb that could give you nice ballpark estimates …

There’s a great article from Beer of Tomorrow that really gets into detail laying out the science behind how to calculate the exact calories in a beer. The problem here is that most people don’t run around bars with slide rules or a TI Graphing Calculator. So we have taken the in-depth info (and subsequent table) to give you the following.

Without getting too math-y on you … for every 1% in ABV, a 12-ounce serving will have 30* calories. A 16-ounce serving will have 40* calories. Some examples:

  • 12 ounces of a 4.5% beer will have approximately 135 calories (4.5 x 30 = 135)
  • 16 ounces of a 9% beer will pack roughly 360 calories (9 x 40 = 360)
  • Another way to look at it … (ABV) x (# ounces) x 2.5 = calories
Some of you are more visual in your learning. Maybe this graphic will help …
* Please note that these numbers are approximate, but they do give a decent estimate when you’re out on the town.
Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

Can Beer Really Save Lives? Spoiler alert … the answer is yes.

My wife has either subscribed to a service that sends her updates … or she’s scouring the interwebs every day for fun, light-hearted, sometimes comical and quirky articles about beer or the beer industry. Sometimes it’s a notice about a cool upcoming beer festival. Or maybe about Bud Light installing coolers of beer all over Cleveland to be unlocked and available should the Browns ever win a regular season game. Again, interesting, fun, and amusing. I post some of these on the various BGB channels from time to time, and I am always grateful that she is working to help me create content!

For the first time, one of those articles has inspired me to write a full post. Today she found an article in the AJC about some beer delivery drivers who saved a man’s life. The Cliff’s Notes version: they altered their normal route slightly and happened upon a man standing on a bridge about to take his own life. They stopped to see what they could do, engaging in conversation until additional assistance could arrive. One of the drivers, Kwame Anderson, was doing anything he could to connect with the distraught man … just to engage him and show him that he cared. Nothing could really get the guy to come back to the safe side of the fence and out of the reach of danger. He asked where he was from; did he have kids; was he hungry. Very little positive response. “Hey man, do you want a beer?” That did the trick. The offer of a beer opened the door to deeper conversation. Fast forward … the man climbed back over the fence and was taken to a hospital for evaluation. He is alive today … his kids still have a father … because of Coors Light.

“Some people just need an ear and a beer”

I’m the first one to poke some good-natured¬  fun at Coors Light et al. Is it beer or water … hahahaha. But this story isn’t really about beer. This is about community; about connections; about the relationships that can develop over beer. In an age where we all seem more willing to stare at a phone screen, slowly becoming zombies, there is an increasing need to connect with other people. For many of us, those connections happen over a glass of beer. I won’t judge your selection, and you won’t make fun of what I paid for my overpriced fancy craft beer. It’s the connection that matters here. Sharing beer is about creating community, a lesson I was able to experience in a massive and very real way at the Beer Bloggers Conference last week.

The man in the article above isn’t alive today because of Coors Light. His children don’t still have their father today because of some skilled psychologist/negotiator. He’s alive today because another human being took interest in him; spent time learning about him; found a common interest; and offered to share with him. This is about a person connecting with a person … nothing else. As written in the article, “Some people just need an ear and a beer.” Let’s get out there and try to be human with each other again. Have a friend who seems quiet and down or just not themselves? Offer to go grab a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine, a Coors Light, or an actual beer. (See?  Couldn’t go a whole post without a little fun.) Connect and show them you care.

Here’s to you, life-saving beer delivery guy.

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

I’ve been there before. Actually, I was there as recently as last night.

It’s getting later in the evening and I can only have one more beer. There are two on the menu that I’d like to have, and I’m torn as to which one I’d rather have. I can look them up on Untappd … I can research on BeerAdvocate, but my tastes don’t always line up with other folks’. I don’t want to order one and then wind up regretting the decision later. Yes … this is basically a matter of life & death.

Two recent experiences color this point. I was at my local watering hole and had heard the buzz (see what I did there?) about a new beer. Said watering hole had said beer on tap, and so I ordered a pint. The beer was New Belgium’s Hemperor. It’s an IPA that’s been infused with hemp. I wasn’t sure that I would like it or not, but I was so intrigued by the concept that I had to try it.

To say it was awful is unfair to beers that are merely awful. This was new levels of awful. Imagine rolling into Animal House the night after Bluto, Otter, Flounder, and the boys went on an all-night bender. You stumble across a still-smoldering bong and decide to take a sip of the bong water. What you find is that someone spilled some of their cousin’s overly-hopped homebrew into the bong water resulting in a vile concoction that isn’t fit for human consumption. Maybe I’m being unfair, but you get the point. Curiosity, in this case, almost killed the cat.

Fast-forward to last night. I’m at the Fred (I refuse to call it the Georgia Chapter Room. Hardcore, old-school Taco Mac fans will side with me on this one) with a friend and am torn between two beers. On the one hand, I have a Kasteel Chocolate Quad, and on the other is Boulevard Barrel-Aged Quad. What to do, what to do. Words that should have left my mouth before the hemp-IPA bomb returned to me … five words that can save you at times like these.

“May I try a sample?”

So simple, and yet so often forgotten. Unless it’s bottle or can, any decent beer-venue should allow a taste test to ensure that you like what you’re getting. Five words that could have saved me many times in the past. Mind you, I won’t order a sample before every beer – just those that are way out there or when I’m torn between a few choices. But wow, do I wish I had used this more often in my past! Oh, in case you’re on the edge of your seat about the choice from last night … I decided on the Boulevard. A lot smoother to me, and more to my likes. And my knee-jerk would have been to order the Kasteel.

The five words saved me!!

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington

I’ll admit it, I have some of these traits myself. It’s hard for me to sit here and poke holes in what others are doing, when some may see it as hypocritical. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I am someone who is always seeking out something new to enjoy. When I go out to eat, it doesn’t matter if I find a beer I love, I’ll always be interested in having something different for my second (and sometimes third) beer. At a brewery, I always opt for a flight or two, rather than a pint. It’s not that I don’t like that first beer anymore, but I want to try something new as often as possible. Maybe I’ll find something I like even better? So I repeat, I at least partially resemble what I’m about to discuss.

There is a disturbing new trend in some craft beer circles that I cannot ignore anymore. I am a member of several craft beer groups on some social media outlets. For the most part, these groups provide opportunities for people to
Discuss the industry,
Share pictures of whales they’ve found,
Ask for recommendations on places or brews to try, and
Arrange for bottle shares and swaps.

These are why these groups were formed and represent the positive side of craft-beer-meets-Facebook. But then there is a darker side. I’ve seen it happen too often now and from far too many people to remain quiet. There are many people out there who consistently feel the need to belittle other people’s pictures, posts, etc. A whale on Monday becomes an embarrassingly outdated find by Thursday. “How can you drink that garbage? The date on the bottom is from two weeks ago!! I won’t touch it unless it was brewed this afternoon.” Why do we as humans feel that the only way to make ourselves better is to belittle others? I am currently on the cusp of leaving some of these groups because I just can’t watch a beer-bully openly mock someone because they’re excited about finding their favorite beer on tap. Or trolling them on the interwebs because their glass isn’t clean enough.

Let’s all agree that craft beer is a great and wondrous thing. Remember when you first tasted that beer … the one that you’d been trying to find for years. You proudly shared your riches and excitement on Facebook only to have some moron chime in with, “It was better last year. I won’t even touch this year’s version.” Why? Just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t either. Can’t we all just get along?! The brewers themselves have a collegial relationship with each other – I think we should aim to mirror that with each other.

Cheers, everyone!

Mike Pennington by Mike Pennington