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Apr 25

I don’t like hoppy.

Guy walks into a beer store; sees so many different beers and wonders, “Where to start?!” I don’t fault him. There was a time where I’d walk into a beer store, see a thousand different choices and wonder the same thing.

The guy asks beer clerk for help. Me, the clerk, in effort to assist, respond, “What kind of beer do you usually drink?” After all, without this information it’s going to be hard to find him beers he’s sure to like.

Him: “Hoppy.”

I begin to point out some India Pale Ales and imperial IPAs that I think are stellar, approachable, worth the money. As an independent beer store owner I don’t rely on corporate agendas. I love this part about my job: Sharing beer with others. Craft beer’s a great product to be a steward of, and it’s pretty cool that we can talk one-on-one about beers he’s likely to fall in love with.

Him: “…NO. I don’t like IPAs. I like hoppy.”

Me: “IPAs are hoppy…”

dark and hoppy beerHim: “Hoppy, like a stout-porter.”

Me: “Oh. You like roasty; not hoppy?”

Him: “I like hoppy.”

Me: “Have you tried black IPA? It’s both roasty and hoppy.”

Him: “I don’t like IPA. I like hoppy porter, stout.””

I realize this guy has no idea what hoppy and roasty mean. What we have here is a failure to communicate (FTC). I have to rethink my approach.

Me: “Oh, you like Guinness?”

Him: “Yes.”

I help him pick out half-a-dozen beers: stouts, porters, schwarzbiers. I ask to slip in a wildcard as the sixth. A beer that’s both hoppy and roasty. He agrees. I slide a black IPA into his pack. As he’s checking out I tell him to let me know what he thought of that beer, tapping the cap of the black IPA, next time he comes in.

Some folks come back, refresh my memory of what beers they got and let me know what they thought. Others, don’t.
I like the folks who return, remind, share, and continue to explore. They let me know if those beers were too sweet, too bitter, or just right. They develop confidence in picking out beers for themselves, and come back to chat about beer at the beer shop.

2 comments

  1. Morgan

    I would say I find it interesting that people are so confident in what they don’t know, but I know plenty of people who would have done the same. I am sure someone, whom he respects the opinion of, at some point told him he liked hoppy beer. So he decided, he liked hoppy beer. I live in the complete opposite side of the country from y’all, but I really like this blog. If I make it up to the PNW for my epic beer tour, I’ll make sure to find my way to you guys. Keep sharing!

    What kind of beers do you, your spouse (not sure who writes every post) and the other clerks like?

    Also: Do you sell any beers from Louisiana?

    1. Tiffany

      “I am sure someone, whom he respects the opinion of, at some point told him he liked hoppy beer.”

      That wouldn’t surprise me one bit, Morgan! There are conversations that I overhear in the shop, between the “beer expert” and his friends that leave my jaw hanging a little, I try really hard not to offer correction unless asked or if it’s such a grave error as “mistaking hoppy for malty.”

      For your question, “What kind of beers do you, your spouse (not sure who writes every post) and the other clerks like?”

      I write all the posts here, as well as on the store’s website at 99bottles.net. As for what we drink…

      • Husband: Malty, like wee heavy, quadruple, tripel. Also bourbon barrel-aged. He likes crisp ales & lagers after mowing the lawn.
      • Me: Bold & balanced, like old ales, imperial stout, and imperial IPA. I also love sour ales, spiced ales, and barrel-aged beers (aged in wine or spirits). I like to try “weird beers.” Some days I crave a good lager, cream ale, golden, or kolsch.
      • Staff: Almost all are into IPAs; all enjoy trying anything new (especially if it’s on me). None are too picky. They drink things like PBR if in the right circumstance (karaoke bar) and more recognized microbrews like Widmer Brothers, Alaskan, and Pyramid. All of the staff pretty much like anything barrel-aged. I make them try weird beers that come into the shop; sometimes they like, other times not so much. We’re converting Diana, one of our on-call gals, from cider into beer. She seems to share my husband’s tastes a little sweeter, maltier ale.

      “Do you sell any beers from Louisiana?”

      Yes, we sell Abita Amber, Purple Haze & Turbodog (and others they make available on rare occasion), plus DIXIE Lager & Blackened Voodoo.

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