Bottle & Tap 

There’s a lot to be said for making resolutions for the New Year. It helps assuage guilty feelings from the past year, provides a fresh outlook on life, and makes other people think you’re trying to better yourself.

But how about making a resolution you can actually keep? Drink beer.

Here are a few suggestions for those looking to become better acquainted with the drink that built civilizations. Whether you know your way around the Beer Judge Certification Program style guide or are still learning the difference between lager and ale, there are myriad ways to stimulate the learning and pleasure centers of the brain simultaneously.

Attend a beer dinner or tasting: There’s nothing to get the tastebuds educated like drinking beer and hearing about it from those in the know. Brasserie Pavil has a monthly beer dinner with a special chef’s menu. The Cove hosts a beer sampling on fourth Thursdays. And the Flying Saucer has special guests to conduct tastings several times a year.

Read a book: There are some excellent books out there to send you into flights of beer fancy. Any book by the late beer journalist and speaker Michael Jackson is a winner. Randy Mosher’s Tasting Beer is a must read for novices and experienced beer enthusiasts. Also look for The Brewmaster’s Table, written by The Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver, which is now available in paperback.

Judge a homebrew competition: There are special certifications for beer judging in the homebrew competition circuit, and the competitors take the results as seriously as chili or barbecue teams. But there is an opportunity to be on a judging panel with experienced judges. It can be a bit like work, but the beer is free, the company good, and the award ceremonies heroic when it comes to people busting out their best bottles of rare brew.

Locally, the Alamo City Cerveza Fest is in the spring, while Austin, Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth have notable events. Check for links to the eight major homebrew competitions in Texas.

Go on a mission: Hit San Antonio Homebrew Supply or Home Brew Party for a starter kit and take a shot at making your own. Try touring every brewery and brewpub in the state. For experienced brewers, try making the same beer in different ways to master the style.


Update: Oscar Carrero, who was featured in the October 20 Bottle & Tap, called Christmas weekend to say he had completed his quest to homebrew 52 different beers in 52 weeks. For an encore, he is brewing Beerskin Robbins, featuring 31 different leftover varieties of malt from his year of brewing.

Travis E. Poling writes about beer weekly for the Current and is author of Beer Across Texas: A Guide to Brews and Brewmasters of the Lone Star State. Please send beer news and event information two weeks in advance to



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