Dating and Beer
                                             by Barbara Jean Toffing

When I'm asked where I want to go on a first date I almost always have a ready answer.  For
me it's a place of some sort that has good beer. But having said that, the serious questions
then begin.  After all, there are many quantifiable factors I consider when picking a place
worthy of date-night consideration—number of taps, quality of beer, location, price, prettiness,
and of course the speed with which that nerve soothing beer is disseminated.  

On occasion I suggest a visit to a local brewery.  Most breweries typically offer free tous of their
facilities—plus, they’ll give you super-cheap samples.  If you can’t find a brewery nearby you're
really not trying, but in that case wineries also offer free tours and budget-friendly tastings.
Take the tour and you’ll feel more knowledgeable about what you’re going to drink at your next
stop - if you want the date to continue that is.

That next place for me is always a brew pub or craft beer bar.  Hey, if the date is a dud at least
I can still have an enjoyable evening.  However experience has taught me a few things that I'm
happy to pass on that just might make the evening even memorable .

First, check to see if the bar serves a tasting flight - usually a selection of 4 or 5 or 6 small
pours of different beers.  If so go for it. Asking for a flight is like dating. You want to be sure you
don't commit to a second one with a person that's not your type, All those beers make for a
great conversation starter.  Talk about the flavors, smells, and colors of the various beers.  For
some of us that could take hours.  Beer talk is happy talk!

A lot of the time, you can just pick and choose which beer you'd like in your flight. Your date or
bartender can assist you with this. Remember, beers like pilsners and blondes will be lighter
and friendlier, ambers, browns and reds will be maltier, pale ales and IPAs will be bitter and
stouts and porters will be roasty. If the bar offers a fixed flight option, take it. This will quell any
decision-making anxiety and will present a balanced set of beers for you to try.

If the place doesn't serve a tasting flight then just ask for taste of the beers you're interested
in.  Most places are happy to do it. Just make sure you're not overbearing about it.  For
example do not ask for a taste of every draft.  It's extra work for the bartender and makes you
look like you're trying to beat the bar out of a free pint.  You don't want a bad image like that on
a first or any date for that matter.

When you taste your beers be sure to have an opinion. Don't hesitate to vocalize what you
think about it even if you're not up to date on beer lexicon.  Your date expects you to show
you're enjoying yourself.  After all, he/she gladly went to that pub not only because you
suggested it but also because they probably like beer too.  It's a wonderful thing to have in
common so play it up.  

Now merely saying that the beer is "good" or it "tastes funny" doesn't do much for making it an
fun night. Take your opinion to the next level and explain why you like or dislike the beer in
front of you. And please, don't be afraid to sound a little confused.  While you might be familiar
with the latest beer news and reviews it's your job to assure your date that they don't need to
know what some brewery out in Pennsylvania is barrel-aging or that a brewer from Minnesota is
moving to a new location in Oregon.  Regardless of a person's level of technical beer
knowledge you can still have a great conversation. Relax, discuss, and  enjoy yourself.

If you or your date is new to craft beer be sure to try every style the bar has to offer. Craft
brewers make a point of making eccentric and interesting beers that will definitely not taste like
Budweiser or Corona.  So  definitely don't order your regular macro lager. That defeats the
purpose of choosing a  craft beer bar for the date.   Think of it as a tasting adventure.  There's
no adventure in drinking the same old stuff.

There is one big caveat for your pub date - monitor your consumption. In the world of craft
beer, you must learn the art of pacing yourself. Craft beer is not the same as Bud Light,  Coors
Light or even their non-light counterparts. You can drink three Bud Lights at a party and it
might have little effect on you, however do that with an Imperial IPA,  and you're going to feel
it's power. Even if you're just drinking an amber, a pale ale or pilsner, the fact is, craft beer is
more robust than a novice would expect.  If you're worried about the alcohol, craft beer has an
answer - it's a "mild" or "session" beer.  Give it a try if the bar has it.

I've found that the beers which most appeal to the first-time craft drinkers will most likely be of
the sweeter Belgian styles like Dubbels, Tripels or even Quads.  They all are generally  
stronger brews with an ABV of  between 8-12 percent. That means that one Tripel, a favorite
style of mine, will be equivalent to about three regular Budweisers.  Since that might be a bit
too overwhelming I would recommend something like a Duchesse De Bourgogne or Rodenbach
Gran Cru.  And if you're in a place that has either of those don't leave.  You've found a gem.

Needless to say if you sense in any way you or your date has had one too many be sure to call
a cab.  Do not drive and don't get into a car with an impaired driver.  Being smart will insure
you can have another date and continue to explore the fun  and exciting world of craft beer! - SPECIAL REPORT
Where to go on a date.