Several years ago my partner and I lived down the block from a neighborhood craft beer bar. We explored the vast beer list with help of the staff, but I had my first huge step into beer when a bartender brought out a bottle of Rodenbach Grand Cru and she said that if we didn't absolutely love it, she would buy it. Well, we loved it. My second big step was a trip down the West Coast. We brought a journal, and we had the absolute time of our lives expanding our pallets and meeting people. Nowadays, whenever we travel, the beer destinations are sometimes planned before the hotel and plane flights are booked. We pack our check luggage full of local Chicago beer for trade and giveaways, and we always return with even more beer from our destination to share with friends.
When I visit a beer bar, if there isn't a bar stool, we wait for one. I prefer to visit a bar on a Wednesday afternoon rather than a Friday night. I have a bit of a baby face and don't look like a typical beer dork, so service and treatment mean the world to me.
My philosophy for craft beer is that being and elitist about craft beer just doesn't make sense. Just because a beer is in demand doesn't mean it's worth the hype. Also, never forget how good your old standbys really are, and make sure to revisit them on a regular basis as you expand your pallet and explore new beers.
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