Wine has a notoriously uppity reputation, what with the swirling, the sniffing, and the vague descriptions of tastes and colors. Beer, on the other hand, has always been more approachable — the everyman's drink. But that's all changing thanks to the rise of craft breweries and 16-page beer menus. Unlike wine, which is largely limited based on terroir, weather, and traditional production techniques, beer is sort of a free-for-all. "There are so many breweries popping up now, and they’re doing different things; you can't really make any generalizations," Nicole Carrier at Throwback Brewery says.
So what's a casual beer-drinker to do when faced with a menu book and 20 taps to choose from? We chatted with four experts — brewers, managers, cicerones (the sommeliers of beer) — to guide us through the ever-evolving world of hops, malt, and yeast. PBR might have to take a backseat.