by: Chrysa Smith

I’ll be the first to admit that I love to let loose with a nice long drink. Usually it’s a fine Pinot Noir or Cabernet. But increasingly, I’m becoming surrounded by brews—dark and light, Belgian and domestic, craft and artisan.

Call me clueless, but until the past year, I hadn’t noticed the big growth in the Beer Industry. It’s become much more gentile, more refined, more like—well, the Wine Industry. And I must say, I’m intrigued.

Just last week, I was up in Rockefeller Center with my two favorite guys—husband and son. We went to a ‘pop up beer garden.’ It was basically a set up beneath the Atlas statue located on the skating rink. Sponsored by the Brooklyn Brewing Company, we tasted up to six beers, each accompanied by a tapas serving designed to accompany it. Apparently, the food was prepared by a James Beard, award-winning chef, which sealed the deal for me. And I imbibed. And it was good.

Well for me, the Belgians have it. One of the reasons I realized that I don’t like beer, is that I don’t enjoy that hopsy taste. On another recent beer tasting, the sales rep told me that Belgian beer is for non beer drinkers—and he had me right then and there.

I tasted Blue Moon before and actually enjoyed that on a hot summers night. But recently, I’ve discovered that any Belgian beer that’s served with citrus, is a beer I can actually down. And there was nobody as surprised as me; maybe my husband.

These new ‘craft’ or artisan beers are usually made by smaller breweries in smaller batches. Don’t ask me how or why that’s better. I’m not enough of a beermeister to understand that chemistry. But I do know that beer is no longer your dad’s Bud or Schmidt’s. It’s evolved. It’s gentrified. It’s reurbanized. And it’s fun to browse.

A new beer store opened near my house, and like my visits to the wine & spirits shoppe, I am constantly amused by the names—Arrogant Bastard,  Hoppin Frog Goose Juice, Raging Bitch. You name it, these marketers are every bit as creative as their grape-based counterparts. And sales are showing it.

If you’ve been a beer lover, you’ve probably already explored a multitude. But if you’re like me—a hesitant beer drinker, go for the lighter ones. My new favorite in Leinenkugel Summer Shandy and Local 1 from the Brooklyn Brewing Company. But hey, summer has yet to begin. Plenty of time to trade in the wine glass for the frosted one.