Ale-ing Knowledge

30 April 2013

Imagine the stereotypical Aussie beer-drinker. Now replace that wife-beater singlet with an ironic shirt, the sticky carpet with a roof top bar, the sausage in his hand with some gluten free treats. The words leaving his lips are not “a pot of VB”, but instead the names of Melbourne based microbreweries. This is the beer-drinker of today; the connoisseur.

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact moment when beer became more pretentious than wine. It may have been when Brooklyn Brewery opened its doors in 1987 and gained life in the midst of a still-occurring exodus from Manhattan to the boroughs of Williamsburg and Fort Greene. Or perhaps when Californian microbreweries shot like daisies into colleges and farm-to-table restaurants.

While the craft beer renaissance grows at home and abroad, Melbourne bars race to place the most desirable and unique beers on tap in expectation of snaring the ever-changing chameleon consumer.

But what to do if you know nothing of beer at all?

If you’ve found yourself with people who know their ales, just remember these conversation points. Here’s how to fake it, Farrago style.

Simple Craft Beer Vocabulary

Pale Ale: Spicy, hoppy ale.

Pilsner: Simple, light pale ale.

IPA: The Indian Pale Ale is a strong and slightly bitter beer with an intensely hoppy taste (“Imperial IPA” is a double hops”).

Porter: An extremely dark beer with chocolate or coffee tones added.

How to Talk About Brands ‘n Stuff

Sierra Nevada: A popular beer produced in San Diego, California.

Brooklyn Brewery: Tied with Sierra Nevada as arguably the beginning of craft beer-dom in the US as we know it today.

California, Seattle, or Portland: Anything ever from these places is generally considered “good”.

Pabst Blue Ribbon: Cheap, bland beer drunk by my mother in Hawaii in the 1970s, but still deemed “cool”. Crucially reinvented by urban hipsters in the last ten years.

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