Getting your money’s worth

When should you pay $3.99 for a 22-ounce bottle of beer you’ve never seen before instead of $2.99 (or $4.99) for one you know well?

– Taste blind. Is it the label or what’s inside the bottle? Tasting blind removes a key bias.

– Taste across styles. Tast a variety of styles to find out what you like.
You might love Baltic Porters and yawn at brown ales. If you form a tasting club then each member can try a few ounces of any particular beer, and you’ll have the chance to find out what style you prefer. Consider taking notes. You don’t have to assign scores, but writing down what you discover, and what others are tasting, will help you find still more flavors.

– Taste across prices. Try beers of the same style at different price points so see if paying more is worth it.

– Be different. Consider buying what’s “out of favor.” Also don’t rush to buy every new beer or seasonal that may offered just once (for good reason).

– Christmas in July. If you are buying a beer you intend to cellar then look for years, watch for beers your retailer may have marked down because they’ve gone “out of date.”

– Pay for flavor, not alcohol. If you think only in terms of buzz for the buck you’ll overlook many excellent beers.

Up and running

Does it matter where beer is brewed?

Yes. At least that’s one of the premises behind Appellation Beer. Some of the others:

– It matters what the ingredients are and where they come from.

– Wines and cheeses aren’t the only products that can claim terroir.

– Beer should be considered in context. That context might be the food it’s served with. That context might be where the beer is enjoyed and the company it is shared with.

The rest.