Kevin Alexander Photography
Ah, beer. The ultimate social lubricator. The obsession of hop-heads. The thing that gave you the courage to grind to Fat Joe feat. Ashanti in college. Which one you drink says everything about you. And since we fancy ourselves unqualified social anthropologists, here’s a list of traits we most commonly associate with different styles of drinks made from yeast-fermented malt flavored with hops:
You’re one of those people whose friends are like, “You’re 33 years old, how the hell have you never tried olives?!” You start to get into new bands right before the “they’re too popular now” backlash. You don’t understand why people are ALL about these pale ales from India when there are plenty of great domestic breweries deserving of support.
This was the first microbrew you drank in college, possibly in the parking lot outside of a Widespread show, and you've never turned back. You used to put the bottles you drank on display until your girlfriend put a stop to it. So you broke up with that girlfriend. You're kind of depressed now, but at least you've got all these sweet bottles, right?!? RIGHT?!??
The first thing you look at when purchasing a beer is its ABV. The second thing you look at is the price tag. You have at least once asked a befuddled bartender whether he can put a regular IPA through a hop transducer, and, when he asked what the hell you were talking about, you scoffed at the IPA you're forced to drink.
Back in the day, you’d camp out in line outside of Ticketmaster to get Phish tickets. You do the same thing at brewpubs when hop season hits, and you frantically try to get the freshest beer from each variety that you can. You use the word “heady” in your everyday vernacular and once traded a bud for a beer at a festival. You saw the second season of Weeds and were mildly impressed with its accuracy.
Extra Special Bitter (ESB)
You love that the ESB is your favorite style more than you love the beer itself. Everyone loves IPAs and stouts, sure, but who else is an unabashed ESB fanatic? You’re special. Your friends know you’re getting the ESB every time. You’re the ESB guy in the crew. It tastes great, and you’ve never had one you didn’t like. You keep meaning to Google what it stands for.
You like to keep things light. You enjoy crisp apples, eaten right off the tree. You have sharp creases in your pants. You took two years of tap, but then quit right as you were getting good. You have the tolerance of a small woman with a shockingly low tolerance.
As a child, you wanted to go to stuntman college. You once put 700 Warheads in your mouth, then had your little brother funnel in some Pop Rocks. Your tastebuds haven’t been able to detect peppers under 50,000 Scoville units anytime in the last seven years.
You despise working out and consume pork products with a reckless abandon that says, “Screw you, pigs”. You shave as little as possible. You have covered a dirty plate with aluminum foil in place of washing it on multiple occasions. You take really, really great naps.
Barrel-aged stout (or barrel-aged anything)
You’re typically the first of your friends to try a new restaurant or recommend a new band, because you like that stuff but also because you get a disproportionate amount of satisfaction from having experienced stuff others haven’t. On a related note, you have some really dark sex secrets.
The women you date tend to be attractive, and you travel frequently. You wouldn’t shut the hell up about it the last time you went to Belgium. You post too frequently on Instagram. Your friends do not like you as much as you think they do.
You have been to Europe, at least twice. You enjoy sitting alone in a pub with a notebook and a "drafting" pencil, which you just read about. You claim to have an advanced palate that can detect spices and will argue about flavor notes of a beer with everybody, including the brewer who made it. Corks in bottles kind of turn you on.
You first tried a barleywine because you really dug Lord of the Rings and it sounds like something one might order in a Hobbit tavern. You kept drinking it because the high ABV makes the loneliness go away. You have intimacy issues.
When fall comes around, you’ll just say, “Don’t you just LOVE autumn?” to no one in particular. You have been known to cry at all manner of holiday movies. Even National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. That poor cat!
You don’t like foods on your plate to touch other foods. You make lots of "gotta take my Pils" jokes, because Ted always laughs, but, lately, even Ted has grown tired of it.
You come from Texas, but now live in another place. Like your beer, you value strength and robust character and semi-flashy belt buckles. Your dad owned a truck with a vanity license plate, which seemed out-of-character for him at the time.
You don’t like to mess around. When people tell long-winded stories, you cut them off and say “get to the point”. You even like to wear hats with points. You’ve read the science fiction thriller The Bleak Door and mildly liked it.
You favor biergarten type establishments with large boots of beer, mostly so you can tell people about how, back in 2007, you went to Oktoberfest with your buddy Casey, and you got into some crazy, crazy shit you can’t get into, and you hint at something about feeling up a girl, and your buddy being chased through a town square, and, then, later on in the night, it becomes clear that you were just recounting scenes from the Germany part of National Lampoon’s European Vacation.
Japanese Rice Lager
You often wear a very expensive hoodie that you ordered online from Denmark. All your Facebook friends can see your Spotify playlists, many of which include “mash-ups”. You own a longboard, but you haven’t used it in six years.
You put orange slices on everything -- coffee, bowls of Cap'n Crunch, larger oranges. And, despite the influx of fruit, you’ve gained 30lbs in a year.
Your palate has evolved in such a way that makes Creationists nervous, and you consider most other beers to be too simplistic for your tastes. You secretly get excited when somebody buys a holiday variety pack, because you know they're just gonna give you all the Lambic right off the bat. Weirdly enough, you don't like lamb.
Flanders Red Ale
You alternate seamlessly between beer and wine, and you're able to detect the aromas of various fruits like a bloodhound. Either that or you're a novice who really likes The Simpsons, ordered it so you could say "stupid sexy Flanders", and are now horribly confused by what the hell you're drinking.
Irish Red Ale
After you initially mistook this for an IPA, you were stoked about the less-hoppy taste and made this your new go-to. On St. Patrick's Day, you take full advantage of the fact that you are 1/14th Irish, though, for you, "the troubles" simply refers to a long bathroom line.
Red Beer (beer and tomato juice)
You strongly believe in hair of the dog, but absolutely hate Bloody Marys. You have been to the rodeo or a race track at least four times in your life, and you enjoy drinking with your grandfather, who once killed a man JUST BY READING HIM A PARTICULARLY SCARY STORY.
Your Grandfather often calls you a pussy, and you’re too hungover to care.
You learned to drink behind the gas station where the townies hung out. Unscrewing the top off a 40 brings back the one or two memories you still retain. It was probably the best time of your life. But maybe don't tell anyone that.
You’re not self-conscious at all, okay? Who cares if people judge you for liking blueberries and other fruits mashed into your beer, it’s still beer, right? I mean, people in Germany put lemons in beeror mix it with lemon soda, and no one says anything! WHY DOES IT FEEL LIKE EVERYONE IS STARING AT ME NOW?!?
You keep up with current trends. You're considering purchasing a bolo tie. You tell everyone how you heard Macklemore, like, four years ago from your friend Marla who went to Garfield High School with him. You're insecure, but self-aware, which can make you infuriating to text with. Sometimes, at home, you secretly drink Rieslings.
You drank sour beer two years ago and now kind of consider that “lame” and “mainstream”. You used to subscribe to Draft Magazine
and Beer Connoisseur
, but those are also getting to be too popular and corporate, so now you claim to only read the French Canadian beer blog Bieremag.Ca and “some pretty deep cut subReddits”.
Oddly, a super nice dude.
Kevin Alexander is Thrillist’s National food/drink executive editor and likes Sour Beers, Kolsch, and Icehouse he found under his mom’s deck from 1998. You can make fun of his pathetic tolerance to HIS FACE @KAlexander03.
Matty Lynch is a Senior Editor at Thrillist and keeps all sorts of weird, obscure beers in his closet. At least we think they’re beers? Follow his attempts to nurse Derrick Rose back to health like a baby bird @MLynchChi.