It is a term of endearment to some of us. Friends call us beer nerds, and scoff at our distaste for mass produced swill and our love of hops. Beer nerd is a badge of honor we wear proudly. We are too educated to simply be called beer snobs. And every beer nerd worthy of the name has indulged in at least three of the following:
It is hard to go anywhere these days and not see people using their smart phones for everything but making phone calls. Technology has made everyone an amateur photographer (blogger, critic, trendsetter, etc). We snap photos of everything; food, selfies, cars, dogs, on and on. Jump on Instagram and you can find thousands of photos from craft beer lovers around the world. This not only helps you find likeminded beer drinkers in your area, but you can see when new releases are available, follow trends of beer with seasonal releases and get people’s honest opinions about the beer they are consuming. Hashtag properly and it could lead to a new craft beer friendship. You can follow me @craftbeerluv619
You be the judge
Judging a beer competition is a fun and informative way to learn more about beer than you already think you know. Competitions are put on by people who are in the industry and are full of people who have completed the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP), so you are likely to talk shop with people who “know their stuff.” Even if you are new to judging, the veterans of the judging craft are more than willing to guide you along the way. And you get to try a wide range of delicious beers.
Here in San Diego, you can find a craft beer festival seems like every three days. Stone Brewing (unofficially) kicks off the summer festival season with Oakquinox, then its two or three events every weekend. That means there is plenty of opportunity for to volunteer at a craft beer festival. Duties can range from pouring beer to stockings stations with ice to checking IDs. Although you cannot drink during most events you volunteer at, bigger festivals often host events for the volunteers which include free beer or schwag. If that isn’t enough, you get to pour amazing beer and work with likeminded craft beer enthusiasts at amazing locations such as the Star of India or Stone's World Bistro.
Sharing is caring
Hosting or attending a bottle share is a great way to sample beers you might not have had a chance to experience before. Bottle shares can be held at a restaurant or the host’s residence and typically involve each person bringing 1-3 bottles of craft beer each person’s favorite beer. Core beers found daily on shelves of your local store are welcome, but this is also an opportunity to share limited release craft beers that might be harder to seek out. Examples range from any Firestone special release to bottles not found through local distribution (3 Floyds or Cigar City anyone?).
Beer mail or bottle trading is also a great way to try a beer you might not get through the local distribution markets. Got a friend out of state? Have them ship you a few bottles in exchange for some local brews. Scout social media for people looking to get their hands on rare San Diego craft beer and set up a trade. Shipping alcohol is technically illegal, so use caution.
Brew your own
Ever watch the special features on a dvd to see how the movie was made? Have an amazing dish at a restaurant and go home and try to emulate that dish the next day? Take that same curiosity for your love of craft beer and brew a batch of your favorite style. Home brew set ups are inexpensive, as are the ingredients. Not sure you want to spring for your own brew system, or don’t have the space where you live? Look into home brew groups or brew with a friend. Brewing can give you a whole new appreciation for flavors, help dial in your palate and appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into the craft beers you’ve fallen in love with. And for the most part, its easy. Water, malt, hops, yeast.