Monday, March 7, 2011

Selecting a Beer for Your Date

B-Daddy here. Has this ever happened to you? You're on a date. Your sweetheart, wife, or girlfriend, who normally orders wine, surprises you with, "I'd like to try a beer with my meal tonight, what do you recommend?" Your heart races, she has put forward the ultimate trust in your judgment, asking you to select her beer. But will you prove worthy? How will you balance your treasured "guy-knowledge" of the the ancient tradition, with the need to ease the fairer sex into this experience with all the gentleness you can muster? Never fear, B-Daddy is here to guide you through the process.

Your first and most important question is for your wait staff, "What do you have on draft?" Why? Because the draft beer has a number of important qualities that contribute to its superior quality. First, it is likely to be fresher than the beer sitting in the cooler of the restaurant, for who knows how long. Freshness matters with most beers, and certainly with the kind that you will be ordering for your date. Second, the draft beer is in a sealed metal keg. So what? Light is the enemy of beer flavor, as well. Beer exposed to light eventually obtains a putrid taste known as "skunk beer" which is the result of the hop oils spoiling. (Source: BeerAdvocate) If draught, or draft, beer is unavailable, then you want beers in the darkest bottles for similar reasons.

But, we are little closer to selecting a beer. If your date has little exposure to drinking beer, then what little she has sampled is probably an American lager such as Coors or Budweiser. If so, and you might want to discuss this, you might suggest a more full-bodied lager. You want to expand the reach of her palette without frightening her off. You might want to look for some quality lagers. A lager may be described just as a lager or some other style such as bock (somewhat darker), Märzen, or Pilsner. I have found that Mrs. Daddy also likes the Hefeweizen style of beer, which is neither a lager nor an ale; Widmer Hefeweizen on tap is great and often available. (For a discussion of the difference between lagers and ales see beer-faq.) I suggest the lemon or orange slice if you go with the hefeweizen, because your lady friend might not be ready for all the yeast taste. I know they might be a little pedestrian, but Shiner Bock, Stella Artois, and Sapporo have been successful selections for me. ( The Sapporo 22 oz can seems to do a good job of preserving freshness. Cans are actually better than bottles because they don't let in light.) What ever you do, stay away from this guy's top ten for your uninitiated date (but not for yourself, those are some great ales.)

If your relationship is of a long term nature, you also have another opportunity. The beer you order for yourself can be the introduction to more flavorful ales for your date. Always offer to let her have a sip of your beer so that she can develop a taste and you can see what she likes. This means you might limit your own selection in the long term interests of the relationship. I recommend pale ales to start; heavily hopped beers like IPAs take some getting used to. If you live in San Diego, Stone Pale Ale or Ballast Point Yellowtail Pale Ale make excellent introductions.

That's it, I strongly recommend you do some research yourself and be ready to impress your date.

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