An out-of-state friend of mine IMed me the other day asking about some suggestions as he was about to go beer shopping.  Unfortunately, I had to tell him that since I didn’t know what his state did and did not get, it makes it a bit difficult to make suggestions.  I found out later that he went to the store and picked up Buffalo Bill’s Orange Blossom Cream Ale.  Ouch.

beer 1700_1280x960.jpgI’m sure we’ve all made this mistake in our early beer days.  We walk into a store, overwhelmed by the choices presented to us, and so we begin to just look over the labels and box art to determine our choice.  I made this same mistake with Buffalo Bill’s about 4 years ago in Chicago.  So, how can you keep from making this mistakes in the future while also expandaing your beer horizon?  Here are a couple of hints I’ve picked up over my short beer drinking career:

Know Your Favorite Styles

Big fan of Bocks? Love Lambics?  Enjoy English Bitters?  Then I’m sure you have specific go-to beers that you always reach for, but maybe there is another brewery putting out a similar style that you may also enjoy?  This will help you not only try new breweries, but also to become familiar with the differences from one beer to another even if they’re the same style.  This may be one of the easiest options if you run into a store for a quick beer pick-up.

Know Your Breweries

If you have a go-to beer that you pick up over and over again, try some of the other beers available from that brewery.  Sure not every beer from every brewery will always beer an A+ beer, but if they’re making one beer consistently well, it’s a good chance they make they make a couple of really solid beers.

Learn About New Styles

This option will probably require more research.  Let’s say you’re interested in learning about Russian Imperial Stouts, well how are you going to know which ones are good and which ones are bad?  This is where the internet really helps, using sites like RateBeer or BeerAdvocate will help you see some of the top rated and most popular beers in each style.  Now, just because they’re highly rated or very popular doesn’t mean they’re available in Missouri.  So make sure to have a list of 4 or 5 beers from the style available when you visit your local store.

Ask For Help!

Us beer nerds get a bad rap (though sometimes deserved) for being snobby.  But I honestly think that for the most part, beer enthusiasts are some of the most infectious and excitable people when it comes to talking about beer.  If you need help or advice for getting into new beer, ask for help.  We have a lot of people here and on the forums that are always willing to lend out plenty of advice.  If you’re in a store selling great beer, it’s an excellent possibility that the person picking it out knows a thing or two about beer, be certain to chat them up for advice.

Do you have any advice for the new beer drinker?  What would you suggest?