Where do you start?

Seasonals, casks, limited releases….in addition to new breweries opening constantly, it’s hard to stay on top of craft beer let alone get into it. I know it can be intimidating, but this post will give you a little insight on what to do when you want to start drinking craft beer!

First, here is a little bit of history on how I got to where I am today.

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I started where most people started, drinking the big beers. I think the most adventurous I would get would be a Rickards White with an orange slice. Wowee… That all changed when I left Ontario and ended up out west. My husband introduced me to some Victoria craft beers. Initially, my palate wasn’t developed enough to really appreciate them, but I found a couple I liked and stuck with them. Upon moving to Vancouver, we discovered some new places but our selections were limited to a mixer 12 pack as we generally liked everything in the box. Eventually, we started investing in seasonals, limited releases, and started buying bomber after bomber. Before we knew it, we were knee deep in beer!

Unfortunately, I was never able to keep track of what beers I liked. There were (and still are) just too many. Enter “Untappd.” This app revolutionized my craft beer life. I can keep track of all the beers I’ve had, rank them, compare them, get suggestions and more. I really wouldn’t be able to remember everything I’ve tried without it. Beyond that, it has a social media stream built into it – a beer specific social media account! The great thing is when your friends have it, you can see what they’ve had and make decisions based on their ratings. I happen to have several friends with similar tastes so it’s handy to see what’s worth trying.  There are a variety of beer logging websites and apps out there. Regardless of what one you use, I highly recommend using one!

Speaking of friends, it’s awesome to have a group of friends who enjoy craft beer. There really is nothing more fun than a night out (or in!) with good friends and good beer. A large amount of new beers I have tried have been thanks to friends bringing them over, told me about, or shared at an event with. It’s nothing but fun and I encourage you to have a core group of craft beer friends you can regularly get your craft on with.

Wait. Friends who like craft beer? Easier said than done you say? That’s reasonable. Enter the craft beer events around town! The craft beer community is full of amazing people. Everyone is sociable and we’re all there for the same reason, to enjoy great beer! I’ve met some amazing local craft beer fans online via twitter and internationally via tweet chats such as #beerchat on Thursday nights and #craftbevchat on Tuesdays! And of course, us Birds! We’d love to meet up sometime.

Should you want to voyage out to try some beers, it’s important to go to locations that have a staff that are well versed in their menu and able to offer you suggestions based on your previous taste experiences. Alibi Room, St. Augustine’s and Biercraft are a few of the places that have a wide selection and excellent beer knowledge.

Finally, to get more of a formal education, check out some classes! Whether you want to learn about Craft Beer 101 or a more in depth topic, CAMRA Vancouver has lots of options for education classes. They are kept small so you also have a chance to get to know others in the class and ask lots of questions.

If you ever want to chat beer or learn more, tweet me! @shawzepe

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