6 Ways to Explore New Beers at Home During Self-Isolation

Drinking beer is usually a social activity, so craft beer aficionados in self-isolation may want to reconsider how they drink.

Midsection Of Man Filling Wineglass With Beer
Photo: Piet De Kersgieter / EyeEm/Getty Images

Simply put, if you drink beer, you're probably drinking a lot more beer at home right now due to the coronavirus pandemic. It's weird, and that's fine. Frankly, I've been covering craft beer for over a decade, and my gut instinct was to hole up with a case of Natural Light. But first—and most importantly—I realized that drinking wasn't going to solve the problem.

And second, I've quickly noticed that only being able to drink at home with limited company—or in some cases, no company—has changed how I'm consuming beer. Here are six changes I've made to get the most out of my beer drinking during self-isolation that you may want to consider as well:

1) Take the opportunity to be more attentive

Beer is a social drink. It's one of my favorite things about beer, and it also works to my detriment. Often times I'll order a beer wanting to absorb and understand it, but I end up putting conversation first—because nothing is ruder than typing Untappd notes while someone is trying to have a heart-to-heart. But now, I'm giving every beer the attention it deserves, digging into the flavors and the nuances, and getting back to properly logging as many beers as I can. If you've never tried using a social beer app, maybe this is your chance. But even if Untappd isn't for you, now is a great time to really think more about the beers you are drinking.

2) Break out your ‘special occasion’ beers

If you've been saving any beers for a special occasion or a rainy day, well, I think this pretty much qualifies as both of those. Yes, I know the world is not going to end, but the current situation has got me looking around my cellar thinking, if it did, which of these beers would I be upset that I didn't drink? And if you're feeling a little down in the dumps, drinking a special beer can be a bit of a treat to cheer yourself up—especially since you can truly enjoy that brew without any distractions.

3) Choose flavors and styles that brighten your mood

Speaking of cheering yourself up, being stuck at home can be monotonous and depressing. Mixing up what you drink can help break that cycle. For instance, my go-to beer style is typically pale ales and IPAs, but recently, I've been gravitating towards tart sours that are more likely to tickle my tongue than weigh me down with bitterness. And after dinner, I've been breaking out more stouts as an indulgent dessert beer treat. Whatever your switch-up beers are will be unique to you, but the point is, if you're going to be drinking, don't make the same old labels part of your rut.

4) Mix up beer styles to fight palate fatigue

Ruts aren't just about your mood, either; your tongue can get in a rut, too. Palate fatigue—the idea that we overwhelm our taste buds by repeatedly giving them the same flavors—is real. When I'm out, I often drink the same beer over and over for simplicity's sake, but at home—especially if you're being more attentive to what you're drinking—picking similar beers repeatedly will just add to your boredom. I think of it this way: I'm stuck in one place, so I might as well let my tongue do the traveling.

5) Drink those high ABV beers you’ve been saving

I organize my beers by ABV. The reason is simple: High gravity beers are more likely to get me drunk—something I'm usually trying to avoid. As a result, I'll often buy a high ABV beer because I want to try it, but then it will languish in my cellar because there's rarely a great time to drink a 10-percent monster. But consider that an advantage of being stuck at home: Okay, so you get a little tipsy on the couch… So what? Yes, you should still drink responsibly, but part of drinking responsibly is drinking stronger ABV beers when you don't plan on going out. The time for those beers is now. (Just stay off social media!)

6) Go ahead and drink some lagers

Things are tough, and we're all seeking comfort. For the vast majority of drinkers, your first beer was probably some cheap, mass-produced brew like Miller High Life or Natural Light. This style of classic American lager might bring back comforting memories of those halcyon days when we could do things like go outside and hang out with our friends… so go ahead and drink a lager or two. You might be surprised just how wonderfully nostalgic it will make you feel. That said, small and independent breweries are the ones that need our support right now because they may not have the resources to survive this shutdown. So instead of buying from the big boys, consider finding a solid Pilsner or Helles or other lagers from one of your local breweries. You can even find a list of craft breweries with alternate purchasing options at CraftBeer.com.

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