One of the best things I've ever done for my dating life was to randomly develop a taste for very hoppy IPAs. I started drinking them mainly because my uncle always does, and I soon started liking them myself. Last summer, I went for an after-work drink with a male colleague to a grizzly beer bar in the neighborhood. The bartender took one look at me and spat out, "We don't have any light beers."
"That's okay, I want an IPA, the hoppier the better," I said.
"Ooooh, this one here knows what she's talking about!" he responded, and happily gave me a pint on the house.
The truth is that I don't know a lot about beers: I know one kind, and one descriptor. But that's basically been enough for me to hold my own in a variety of beer gardens and bar situations ever since — and it's impressed a hell of a lot of dates. Just as a cursory knowledge of wine can be a great asset in the dating world, knowing a thing or two about beer — enough to hold your own in a beer-drinking environment — can really give you bonus points.
To learn some beer basics, I headed to the Whole Foods Bowery Beer Store in New York City and asked Jesse and Isaac, two very obliging beer experts, for a basic rundown. Here's what you need to know.
1. "What's 'Malted'?" (Or, How Not to Sound Like an Idiot on a Date in a Beer Garden)
You're spending a nice summer evening outside in a beer garden, getting to know someone under twinkling lights and over a pint of... whatever he or she brought you. You take a sip. Your date looks at you expectantly.
"It's good!" You say. "Yeah, not too malty?" Uhhhhh. Time to learn some common beer vocab:
Floral: Sweet, multi-toned notes.
Dry: Not sweet.
Sessionable: A certain "je ne sais quois" which makes a beer (typically one that is low in alcohol) extremely drinkable. (Yes, seriously.)
Malted: Tastes like malted milk (minus the milk).
Bready: Literally, tastes like bread. (Beer vocab is way easier than wine vocab, no?)
As far as descriptors go, there are two main ways to describe a beer: light vs. dark, hoppy vs. malty.
A beer that's light can't be dark, just as a beer that's hoppy can't be malty. If you're just starting to develop your beer palate and want to avoid stronger flavors, try a wheat beer (light and malty).