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Becoming an Amateur Beer Expert

A young David Gonos drinking beer.

When you decide to become an amateur beer expert, I’ve realized it’s kinda like saying, “I’m gonna become an off-screen porno actor,” instead of diving into it headfirst and uploading your amateur videos to Nu Bay or “I’ve decided to become a critic of sportscasters.”

In other words, DUH! Everyone already wants to do that and are living their lives as such.

A couple weeks ago, I struck up a conversation with Bryan Roth, a beer blogger over at This is Why I’m Drunk. We decided to exchange guest blogs, which he has already written for this site: 12 Great Craft Beers for 12 Great Days. But for my guest blog on his site, I asked him to send over a list of 10 craft beers for me to try, and I would give an amateur beer drinker’s opinion on each one.

My expectations would be that I’d drink the beers all in one night, you know, before driving a schoolbus full of kids on a field trip. But then I realized the cost would be prohibitive, making it a very expensive night, and around beer No. 7, I would no longer have a critical palate. Instead, I would be saying stuff like, “These Doritos are stale! … Oh, well … Why is there an open bag of mulch in the kitchen? … Oh, I mean, why is there an open bag of mulch in the neighbor’s garage?”


First Steps to Becoming an Amateur Beer Expert

David Gonos drinks a 3-liter beer in Germany in 2010.

In 2010, I visited Erik and Rachel Flanagan in Germany, and they took me to this place that had a 3-liter glass of beer. If you drank the whole thing, which I did, you won a free ruptured bladder!

So I went to Total Wine to buy my first few beers from his list. That place is like the Wal-Mart of liquor. It’s like the Toys R Us for adults. It’s like the Disney World for alcoholics.

When I walked down the aisles and saw how many different craft beers there are, I realized, this is a much bigger deal than I had given it credit for. I mean, I guess I knew there were a ton of different beers out there (at Taco Mac in Atlanta, they have a small newsletter for a menu, allowing to choose from hundreds of bottled and draft beers). But it never struck me that this would be a great hobby to look into.

But after pouring that first beer, a bottle of Knee Deep Brewing Company’s Ryedentity Crisis, and truly appreciating the color, the pour, the head, the smell, the taste and the aftertaste, I decided, this could be a fun hobby!


Saturated Amateur Beer Expert Douchebag Market

I looked up a few sites and saw how serious they take their tastings, as well as their reviews, and I’ve decided – I won’t be those guys. And I won’t be the guy that corners you at a party, while you’re drinking your Coors Light, explaining why you are actually drinking raccoon urine and you should be drinking something more interesting and flavorful. I PROMISE!

My goal is to just drink some great craft beers, decide which ones I’ll want to drink again and which ones I’ll want to avoid – and why. I’ll share some of those results with you, and hopefully, I’ll get Bryan Roth to point out some things I’ve missed along the way. And I think it will be entertaining to you along the way.

I’m sure I’ll also decide to brew my own beer at some point, only to undo that decision after drinking my first handcrafted beer. But it will certainly give me better insight into how a beer becomes a law, or whatever.


Next week, I’ll decide I’m going to become a professional roller coaster rider or Cheetos taster.

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