BeerGlassI try not to write too many stereotypical posts… though it’s hard not to do sometimes.  As the new year clicks over each year, you’ll see tons of ways for you to achieve resolutions, and what seems like a million different ideas for what those resolutions are supposed to be.  That’s not really what this post is supposed to be about… let me state that from the get go.  I’ve been working really hard ‘behind the scenes’ here on the website to make it better.  I’m always looking for ways to make grow, and become more useful to drinkers in this city, novice and experienced.  Our city’s beer scene grows at such a quick pace that it’s hard to navigate at times, and my intention has always been to help people with this navigation and keeping track of everything that’s happening.  So… all that being said, while I’ve been neck deep in working on some of these changes I realized that I should probably take a step back for a few hours and put something together for all of you who might be making some sort of ‘Cincinnati Craft Beer Resolution’, and maybe if you haven’t made one…get you thinking about making one.

My guidance comes from a genuine place… I promise you that!  If you have made some sort of Cincy Beer Goal that you don’t see listed here… please, please, PLEASE let me know!  Contact me here or on social media and tell me what sort of things you’re working on for the new year.  If I can help, I’ll add it to the list.  If we all collectively do our part, 2016 is going to be the biggest year for craft beer that this city has ever seen.

So… without any further explanations and fanfare – What’s your resolution?

I Want To Dink Local – More.

You don’t have to be any kind of beer expert to help with this one (not that I would ever consider myself a beer expert).  If you want to drink more local beer, just…uhhh… drink more local beer?  We are at a point in time here in Cincinnati that it’s easier than ever to achieve the goal of drinking “more local”.  A lot of people in this city have a brewery within a few minutes drive.  Hell, some of you luckier people can ever walk over to your local taproom, but to me the harder part to set your mind to is when you walk into your grocery store or local bottle shop.  There’s a ton of great beer out there.  I’m not going to try to tell you to only drink local beer.  I’m not sure I’ll ever be that gnome that never picks up a beer that’s brewed outside of this city.  I will however, make it a conscious point every year, to do it less and less.  There is such a variety and quantity of great beer being made in Cincinnati, that every single month this becomes easier and easier to do.  When you hear people preaching for you to “Drink Local”… please don’t misunderstand the message…

No-one wants you to drink bad beer, or beer that you don’t like.

Just drink more of what you like that’s made here.  Support this local beer scene as much as you possibly can.  The biggest way you can show your support to the breweries that you love is to show up and drink their beer.

Do you want to know something else?  Guess how you can get rid of beer that isn’t as good?  Show up and try it.  Try to work with breweries that aren’t putting out as good of quality to make their beer better… this line of communication is only possible if you are trying as much as you can… but that’s starting to cross over into our second resolution…

BeerStageI Want To Improve The Quality Of Local Beer.

We’ve all been there.  You order a pint, or stop by and grab a bottle of something from your local shop…take a big swig and then the disappointment sets in.  You don’t like it.  It’s one of the saddest moments for a beer drinker… who’s fault is it?  Is my palate not “developed enough”?  Is the brewer making something that’s inferior?  Was my bottle not handled properly on the way to the shop?  These answers will vary, and at times each of them will be right…but the solution to all of them is the same… communicate.

Let’s keep in mind one thing from the top, though.  Your preferences are just that… your preferences.  This is what makes taste so fantastic… it’s different for all of us.  Taste, of course, involves scientific principles… we can sense different taste sensations such as bitterness, sweetness etc.  And we can find scents and flavors like pine or nuttiness… floral aromas and sweet toasted chocolatiness.  But what I taste isn’t the same as what you taste, because memories are triggered.  When I pick up a beer I might remember the first time I cracked one open.  The aromas of strawberries might immediately make me think of summers, floating in the pool with my family.  These memories are part of our tasting experience wether they are at the forefront of our mind or not.

Taste is subjective… so keep that in mind.  There are things you hate, that someone loves, and things you love that someone hates.

So with keeping in mind that our tastes are subjective… how can we improve beer?  What does quality even mean? We have to educate ourselves, and we have to learn to communicate better.  If you don’t like something… or even if you love something, learn why.  What do you love or hate about that beer?  If you don’t like strawberries, you’re probably not going to like that strawberry beer… but if you don’t like strawberries, and you love that strawberry beer…maybe it’s because you’re just getting a slight floral strawberry aroma, but not being smacked in the face with the sweetness of them?  Spend some time thinking about what you’re tasting and learn to communicate it properly… then communicate it.  Talk to other drinkers, talk to your bartenders, talk to the people that stock the shelves of your local bottle shop… most importantly, talk to your brewery.  When you are in the taproom on a not so busy night, give them feedback, good and bad.  If you encounter a beer that just doesn’t taste “right”, shoot them an email.

For the love of god, though… be intelligent with your feedback, and do it in a positive manner.  Don’t jump on social media and trash a brewery because you don’t like their beer… that’s not improving the beer… that’s hurting the community.  We want to make things better, not make them go away.

I Want To Visit All Of Our Local Breweries.

This is a bit tougher… but still very doable.  First you have to define to yourself what you consider all of our local breweries.  To make it easier on yourself… just follow my cue.  40ish miles outside of the city is still Cincinnati.  It’s arbitrary… it’s a flawed look at it…but I came up with it, and I’m sticking with it.  This cuts us off far enough from Dayton to still classify there scene as theres, and far enough away to pull in some of those breweries that are a little farther out, and not part of a community like Dayton, or Indianapolis.  So, as of writing this on January 1st 2016 that leaves us with 25 taprooms (24 if you don’t count the Moerlein Malt House and Moerlein Lager House as two… which I do.)  This is overwhelming to the new drinker.

Take a breath… and start with where you haven’t been.  I have a convenient list and a map of all our breweries made for you, go ahead and click on it.  It’ll open up in a new tab for you while you keep reading this.  Now just start planning.  I know we all settle into routines, where we go to the same taprooms on a regular basis, the close ones, the big ones, the ones with the best deals.  Start doing things differently.  Just pick one weekend a month and take a trip outside of your comfort zone, and visit a brewery or two that you’ve never been to.  All these breweries aren’t going to be home runs for you, and I understand that.  This resolution isn’t about going to every brewery that you love…it’s about trying them all… supporting them all and making decisions for yourself.

Try them, and keep trying them… be part of the growth, and part of all the changes that each brewery and this city as a whole is experiencing.  This is the most exciting time to be part of Cincinnati beer… just be part of it!

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