This is the first of a series of posts that will explain the basics of beer. Part 1 answers the question of “What is a tasting room?” In future posts I will explore what separates craft beer from mass-produced beer. After that I will explain some of the common styles of beer. If you are already a big beer fan, share these with your friends to introduce them to the wonderful world of beer.
Every tasting room has a bar where you can order pints of beer or smaller glasses of stronger brews as well as smaller four-ounce tasters. Traditional tasting rooms allow you to buy only one or two tasters while some brewery restaurants require you to buy a flight of five tasters. Most bars only serve full pints and usually have beer from a number of different breweries. Tasting rooms usually only serve beer brewed by the brewery running it.
If you already know the style of beer you prefer, it is usually best to stick to that style, especially if you plan on hitting more than one brewery. Though tasters are only four ounces, many breweries serve higher alcohol beer than you may expect.
Tasters are also great if you are trying to decide what beer to take home in a growler. Growlers range in size from 32 oz to 1 gallon. These allow you to enjoy some fresh brew at home. The beer will stay fresh in the growler for over a week until it is opened.
Once you pour a glass from the growler, it is best to finish the growler within 48 hours. Unless you are a heavy drinker or have a lot of friends coming over who share your tastes in beer, it is best to stick to a 32 oz growler so that you enjoy the beer fresh.
Tasting rooms are usually more relaxed than bars and sometimes allow you to bring your dog and/or young child with you. Most tasting rooms do not serve food but food trucks are often on site to sell you something to eat with your beer. Check the web-site of the brewery ahead of time if you expect to eat because some have food trucks a few days out of the week.
If they don’t have a food truck, most breweries do not mind if you show up with some food to enjoy with your beer. Stone, Karl Strauss, and now Ballast Point’s Little Italy location are restaurants where you can also enjoy their beer.