Understanding craft beer: An underachiever’s guide

Admittedly, I am clueless about craft beer.

I’m a simple beer drinker – I like Corona. That’s my go-to beer. Or Blue Moon Belgian White with the requisite orange slice. That’s about as frou-frou as I get. When I am around people talking about craft beer, I feel like a noob, which is something I can’t stand.

What’s it mean when you say a beer is hoppy? What’s wheat beer? Why does pale ale or cream ale sound like something I’d enjoy but it’s actually god-awful sludge?

I’ve decided to attempt to educate myself, which, when I found the 103-page “Beer Study Guide” on a craft beer site, seemed much more daunting than I anticipated.

After taking a cursory glance at the incredibly in-depth guide, I think it’s best to broad-brush it. After all, I’m really a vodka-cranberry type girl at heart.

As I was scrolling past the exhaustive list of descriptors for the various ingredients, I saw the words “sweat socks”. Huh? I’ll pass, thanks.

I thought it best to start by finding out what some often-used terms mean. I am just dipping a toe at this point.

According to craftbeer.com, hops balance out the natural sweetness of beer, so a really ‘hoppy’ beer can sometimes be referred to as bitter. But it all depends when you add the hops. Apparently, India Pale Ale (IPA) beers are hoppy – aka a beer I would not like.

Malt, on the other hand, provide the sugars and are the primary source of beer color. Malt also contributes significantly to flavor, according to aperfectpint.net. Any sweetness is attributed to malt.

Wheat beer is of particular interest to me since I am fairly certain it’s the only kind of craft beer I will ever be able to enjoy. It’s low in hops, and is made with malted wheat.

Honestly – I am exhausted, and I didn’t even get to ales, pilsners, lagers or stouts.

My question is this: Who thought to combine any of this stuff? And who thought “Hmmm this tastes GREAT, let’s make tons more!”

Forget it. I’ll remain a noob. Pass me the vodka, please.

— Dana L. Hoffman