One of the benefits of being a home brewer is that you have license to try a lot of beer, and a lot of different kinds of beer. After all, you’re not just drinking for pleasure, you’re doing it as a hobby, even if your hobby happens to be a pleasure. In the last few years a new kind of beer store has popped up to help beer lovers discover the many styles of beer, a lot like wine bars and tasting rooms have done for wine drinkers.
Say you want to know more about what distinguishes a Kolsch (which is in the bottles above, photo by the inimitable Phil) and a Helles than Wikipedia and BeerAdvocate can tell you? At these stores you can taste the difference. With education as their goal, they stock hundreds of kinds of bottled craft beer and keep a constant rotation on the tap. They’ll recommend beer and food pairings and they tend to be liberal with the free samples, too (that’s not a promise though—your mileage my vary.) An article I wrote about five of these tasting rooms for beer came out today in the New York Times.