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Beer Novice Seeks Advice

I don’t drink beer. Truth is, I don’t drink much at all. I like whiskey, rye, bourbon, but I don’t drink tons of it. I may sip a shot, leisurely, over at my friend’s place on Shabbat, or spike my cocoa with rum (or my ice cream). I have a bottle of Drambuie (thank you Taffy) and a glass flask that says ‘Old Grandad’ but really isn’t.

Basically I’m not a drinker. It is what it is.

And I don’t drink fizzy drinks, generally. I don’t like them, among other things, but I really like the smell of beer and root beer. It’s the acidity I hate most of all, but at the end of the day, I just don’t like the taste of cola. Not even coke syrup.

So why do I want to try beer? In part, everyone drinks it. I don’t get it, and I want to try some. I know I won’t even have tons in the house, or drink to excess for a variety of reasons, but the smell is often so very, very appealing. And at that point, I’m scared, because I don’t know what to try. I know I don’t like the smell of cheap beer, or lite beer, so I won’t try those, but where do I start? So I asked my friends, and got a predictable answer from Otto:

I kind of hoped he’d have a suggestion, and was going to ask. Otto, and everyone, said to try a tasting. There are a few good local companies in Chicago, like Goose Island and Half Acre. But that’s still a lot of beer. So I tell Otto what I know I like (sweet and savory, not bitter or acidic) and he suggests:

Quickly, one of my friends mentioned that Hopleaf has good bartenders and another suggested Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale (this comes from my whiskey drinking buddy). And many of my friends now want to go bar hopping, except too many of them live too far away!

Of you I ask this: Where should I beer?

Where, in Chicago, is a place for a beer novice, a total rookie who has never had a beer, to go and try samples? Saturday day is a no-go, but many Saturday nights are fine. I plan to have a designated driver around, so don’t worry about that. As the majority of domestic beers are Kosher, there’s a lot less to worry about than you’d think. Most U.S., Norwegian, English and German beers are acceptable. Stouts, flavored beers and “Barley wine” require certification, as do European, Asian, and other beers about which there is insufficient information regarding their contents.

My ‘flavor’ profile: I have a sweet tooth, but I also live savory. Bitter’s not my friend, and I dislike acidic (I rarely drink orange juice, but I love cranberry juice cocktail). I don’t drink any sodas, I like coffee with one or two sugars. I like spicy foods that are flavorful more than burning. I love Asian food, and French. Chocolate is my best friend, but I find white chocolate a little cloying. When I drink ‘mixed’ drinks, it’s vodka and cranberry. I do like Kahlua and Cream, since it’s like a milkshake that gets you drunk.

Speaking of, I very, very rarely get ‘drunk.’ I don’t like being shitfaced, and I don’t like not being ‘me.’

Advice welcome!

(PS: Thanks to Amy, I’m considering a Kickstarter for y’all to teach me the Way of Beer without going broke. Also I might need bail money, according to Otto and Dan G.)