In Style, Out of Style

What precisely is style?

According to, one definition is “a particular kind, sort, or type, as with reference to form, appearance, or character.”

When you think about beer, what is it about style that really matters?

I’ve long extolled that style is way less important than flavor in first learning about beer. Flavor should be taught first, long before the style conversation gets off the ground. Listen to your own sensory system, not someone else’s.

What's your style?

What’s your style?

Learning to name and identify flavors and aromas will get the beer enjoyer much farther along than having to learn style first. Yes, there’s most certainly a place for style. And people like to categorize things anyway, yet it should come much later.

When we learn to name flavors, we can really lean into our sipping, trying, sharing and asking. Learning what flavors appeal to us, which we would rather not partake of and still learn to appreciate, we become a smarter beer drinker. A savvier beer enthusiast. This is good for everyone in the beer equation.

Next week I’ll have the pleasure of being in Central Iowa to deliver a lively & educational talk, Beer Sense, courtesy of the Des Moines chapter of Barley’s Angels. I’ll be covering learning to smell and taste your beer, since it’s the very beginning in learning to enjoy beer for me. You can get details and register here – women & men are all welcome.

Beer is a lot like art: it’s personally subjective. Like what you like. Look at everything, taste everything – you can only say you don’t like something after you’ve tried it. If you’ve not had a particular beer in at least two months and you think you don’t like it, try it again. Beers within the same style can taste remarkably different too to taste around. Give all beer a fair shake to please you.

While some trends are short-lived, certain trends never go out of style. Beer styles proper aside, find your own style. I hope it’s an Open Minded style, welcoming to all ideas of what beer can be and is the world over.

See you next week!

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Are You An Open or Closed Minded Beer Taster?

Are you an open-minded beer thinker? Do you truly not adopt the snob stance and embrace equanimity and diplomacy?

Ginger & Kelle of Doll Distributing at the Show

I’ve found that while many people truly think and extol that they are indeed open-minded yet they are beer racists or snobs or simply closed-minded to trying beers they’ve not sampled before.

Beer should be an easy sell. It’s chock full of flavor and many people like to try new flavors. If you talk about beer as a flavorful experience you can get farther.

So what do you do with those who say “I’m not really a beer drinker” or “I don’t like dark/light/whatever beers”?

Having just been at the Iowa’s Premier Beer, Wine & Food show in Des Moines Iowa I was reminded of how important it is to be diplomatic and offer a new perspective to those reticent on what beer can give them. Here are a few tips:

1. Ask people what kinds of overall flavors they like – ask about flavors such as coffee, chocolate, banana, grapefruit, bread. Commonly identifiable ideas will help open the mind.

2. Remind them that “dark” and “light” aren’t flavors – they’re colors. And colors can tell you some things about your beer yet there is no universal anything for what a beer will really taste like until you give it to your taste buds.

3. If they say they’re a wine drinker – great! Ask what kind of wine – if they like deep robust reds, suggest a porter or other similar beer that can have cross flavors and characteristics. If they say white wine, find out what they like in white wine and see what you can do to match a similar flavor profile of a beer.

4. I ask a lot of people to humor me and let me pour them one finger’s worth of beer. If they don’t like it I’ll pour it out, rinse their glass and give them something else.  A small amount of “don’t be a snob” pressure when done right can be very effective for all concerned.

Help communicate that beer tasting is low commitment, high reward

It’s a tasting, for goodness sake. Big deal. If they don’t like it keep helping them discover and sample other beers. If they shut you off, then let them go. If people want to selectively miss out on the wonderful world of beer, it’s ultimately their choice.

You simply have to be sure that you truly tried to engage them. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve convinced to simply try it with the above suggestions and tips (plus lots more in my arsenal).

Don’t take no for the first 3 answers. People are only open-minded if they are willing to listen and try.

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