So, you wanna be a beer geek?

How to do Dayton’s growing beer scene right

By Hayley Fudge

Photo: Combine beer with your other passions to maximize the fun. Like to run? Plan a route that has you ending at a local brewery or craft beer establishment.

With Dayton’s craft beer scene growing stronger by the day, local consumers are more enthusiastic than ever to participate in the region’s craft beer boom. This fervor has led to a rapidly expanding number of those who consider themselves the ultimate consumers of hoppy goodness: beer geeks.
A geek, by definition, is someone who has excessive enthusiasm for and expertise about a specialized subject or activity. But just like the breweries that supply the beer geeks’ demand, there is a duty among this brand of imbibers to share the love, knowledge and product with others responsibly. While it’s easy enough to switch your brand of beer, you can’t just become a beer geek overnight.
Here are seven dos and don’ts to maximize your status and enjoyment as a budding beer geek, make more friends than enemies and share the passion peacefully over pints.

Do…
1. Use your mouth to taste before you use your mouth to talk. Before doing lots of talking about all these amazing new beers—whether in social media groups, at beer festivals and events or while hanging out at local breweries and craft beer establishments—take time to learn things like the different styles of beer, types of hops and your own preferences.
2. Order beers by the flight, not the pint. Most local breweries and craft beer establishments offer this option. By sampling several small beers versus full-size glasses of a few, you can more quickly determine your preferences, and possibly even a brewery’s overall appeal to you.
3. Seek out beer styles with similar flavors or characteristics in foods or drinks you already like. Love spicy food and strong flavors? Maybe you are a true hophead and should hit the IPAs. Is mild more your thing? Seek out a kolsch or pilsner. Love fruit? Think about a lambic or fruit-forward hefeweizen. Take notes, consider using an app like Untappd to help keep track of what you do and don’t like.
4. Go with your gut feeling, to a degree. Do you feel connected to the brewery’s story? The bottle art or branding? Supporting local? Give it a try. Emotional shopping happens with beer, too!
5. Seek out a craft beer glossary such as craftbeer.com/beer-studies/beer-glossary so you have a basic understanding while you’re learning.
6. Combine beer with your other passions to maximize the fun. Like to bike or run? Plan a route that has you ending at a local brewery or craft beer establishment. Like to cook? Incorporate beer as a key ingredient into your recipes. Like to paint? Seek out a paint-and-sip event.
7. Drink what you like, and don’t let others’ strong opinions or quest for rare beers sway your choices.

Don’t…
1. Join groups (online or elsewhere) dedicated to craft beer without first being in listening and info-gathering mode. Doing so will quickly demonstrate you are still an amateur, and it will alienate those that you really want to have as friends (hello, bottle shares!). Use these opportunities to ask questions before trying to show off your newly acquired prowess.
2. Disrespect those with knowledge. While craft beer may be new to you, many other Daytonians have been drinking, brewing and supporting the craft brew industry for 20-plus years (remember Miami Trail Brewing Company, anyone?). When they offer advice or constructive criticism, it’s because they are invested and passionate about the craft. They want to share that knowledge.
3. Waltz into craft beer bottle shops seeking highly sought after and limited release beers, especially if you are not a regular customer. Not only is it insulting to the retailers and their consistently loyal customers, but also you will likely miss out on many solid options more to your liking readily available on the shelves.
4. Chug or bong craft beers. Ever. Craft beer has complex flavors and ingredients that should be explored and celebrated.
5. Always feel the need to be a critic. Just be a consumer. Decide what a beer is worth to you in your time or money spent seeking it, but don’t feel the need to tell everyone else how amazing or terrible a beer is or isn’t. Your opinion is just that.
6. Try to get in on organized trades and beer shares with something that those devoted to the craft do not consider worthy. If you’re not sure if what you have to trade or share will be adequate, don’t assume. Just ask the organizer.
7. Publicly shame breweries. You are not yet an expert, but most of these places know what they are doing. While you may not enjoy every beer or feel like you’ve been totally embraced by the culture or community at a particular place, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong with the product. It means you should move on and try your next beer.

The benefits of attaining beer geek status are quite delicious, and those thirsty for a hefty serving of knowledge alongside their craft beer will quickly make friends and drinking companions with their fellow enthusiasts.

Hayley Fudge is one of Dayton City Paper’s Resident Beer Geeks. An enthusiast of craft beer and the culture that surrounds it, Hayley aspires to share her love of beer with others by whipping up beer-infused cupcakes on the regular. Reach Hayley Fudge at HayleyFudge@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Hayley Fudge is one of Dayton City Paper’s Resident Beer Geeks. An enthusiast of craft beer and the culture that surrounds it, Hayley aspires to share her love of beer with others by whipping up beer-infused cupcakes on the regular. Reach Hayley Fudge at HayleyFudge@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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