There is absolutely nothing more refreshing than cracking open a cold one on a hot summer’s day amid friends and family and perhaps a buffet of delicious food. Even if you’re not one for alcoholic beverages, a nice cold beer can bring the day full circle. But there are so many beers to choose from these days with the uprising of craft and microbrews. It can be intimidating standing in front of the beer cooler, trying to make the choice of what those 10 people at the house might want.
You really don’t know what you’re getting, not only in taste but alcohol content, which makes the choice harder. How can you make sure everyone will enjoy this beverage and not get too tipsy? Safety is key, after all.
Depending on which state you live in, craft and microbrews can start anywhere from $10-$15 a 6-pack. Some brands only sell 4-packs at the same price for a very important safety reason, so how do you make the right choice? Here are some facts to consider when picking the right brew.
Microbrew vs Craft Beers
You may not even know there is a difference between the two, but crafts and microbrews are different, mostly in the way they are manufactured. For instance, craft brews are beers that are produced in any size batches but with specific and quality ingredients. Microbrews, however, are brewed in very small batches with the same regard for quality ingredients. In order to be considered a microbrewery, a company can produce no more than 15,000 barrels a year (source). This is one factor that plays into the cost of crafts and microbrews.
Alcohol by Volume
By law, all alcohol must list the “ABV” or alcohol by volume on the bottle or can. The higher the ABV, the stronger the drink will be. Most beers can range between 4-6% ABV. However, crafts and microbrews can range from 9% and up (source). In fact, Brewmeister’s Snake Venom has an ABV of 67.5%; the highest ABV you can find in a beer (source). The alcohol content is another factor for price and is also the reason some breweries opt to selling 4-packs rather than 6-packs. To the companies, it’s all about consumer safety. They want you to enjoy their products but responsibly, so companies limit quantity of beverage when quality of ABV is high. Always be conscious of the ABV listed when making your choice.
Just like wine, beer also has descriptors people use to explain the tastes and smells. If you’re familiar with wine tastings then you’re familiar with beer tastings. During these events, breweries welcome the public to taste their different brews. A person’s choice of beer will be poured into a typically 8-12 oz glass to be tasted. People often describe beer with words like “hoppy” or “bitter”, due to the bitterness given off by hops during the brewing process.
Bitter is often a description for IPAs, or Indian Pale Ales. Paladin Brewing’s Tavern’s Best IPA has a robust, earthy flavor from the variety of hops used. They consider it their best brew and hold many tasting events to the public. If you are into a beer that’s more crisp or fruity, you could opt for an ale or lager. Birdfish Brewing Co. in Columbiana, OH specializes and ales and lagers. “Malty”, “sweet”, “sour” these descriptors are all influenced by often unconventional ingredients such as berries, fruits, citrus fruits, and a variety of spices (source).
Craft beer now comprises 21.7% of the market in the U.S. Along with it came the flood of bars specializing in crafts and microbrews. In Youngstown, OH, the Whistle and Keg boasts 38 different crafts or microbrews on tap. Modern Methods in Warren, OH both brews and has lots of beers on tap. Their most popular is a lager named Darlene, which is just one of the 18 beers you can choose from.
Now that you know a bit about brews, here’s a bit about how to practice alcohol safety. Everyone wants to have a good time, but safety is of utmost importance, especially when alcohol is involved. If you’re enjoying a brew, or a few too many, and you know you shouldn’t be driving, then DON’T. It is always a good idea to have a designated driver. With Uber and Lyft servicing most areas, there is absolutely no excuse to be driving while intoxicated.
If you’re hosting a party, make it a priority that everyone returns home safely, or give people places to stay for the night if necessary. Remember, it’s not just about your safety, but the safety of so many others on the road. Even when not at work, you should keep a safety mindset!
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