My personal beer history began like that of many, sneaking a beer from Dad’s six-pack. Unfortunately, my dad drank cheap beer; really cheap beer. Brands like Brew 102, Dodger Beer and other plain wrap varieties. When I turned 21 in 1974, Budweiser was my beer of choice. On a visit to San Francisco I discovered the “nectar of the gods,” otherwise known as Guinness. Back then, Guinness in the bottle or can was not really an option for me, so Guinness became my special occasion beer.
In the early 1980’s I followed the trend of light beers and Miller Lite became my go to beer. As time went on my beer palate expanded and I found myself seeking brands like Becks, Samuel Adams and Fat Tire. Sometime around 2006, I started doing more cross country travel. When I would visit bars in other states I started noticing that they had beers that were not available at home; some of them I enjoyed, others, not so much.
I do not remember where I was when I first walked into a brewpub; it was probably a BJ’s or Gordon-Biersch. A brewpub is a [micro] brewery that sells food and brews their beer on-site. It was at a brewpub that I discovered flights. Flights, also known as tasters at some locations, are usually 3-4 ounce servings of their various beers. If you have ever done wine tasting, their concept is the same. You get to taste several different varieties so you can learn which one you prefer.
Now when I travel I specifically seek out brewpubs and microbreweries; and even though I have a very experienced palate, I still request a flight whenever I am visiting a new location. Just because I like an IPA from one location, that does not mean I am going to want a pint from this new location. I have tried thousands of varieties of craft beer but I still order flights whenever possible. It really is the way to learn what it is you like.