Why do New Year resolutions have to be a chore? Instead of over-reaching, boring promises to lose weight, exercise more or cut up credit cards, why not take on some resolutions that will give you added enjoyment and will have some chance of success?
To help you get started, we’ve put together our list of New Beer Resolutions – a set of ideas that will inspire the beer lover inside of you, reinvigorate your taste and possibly kick-start a new hobby.
So, jump into the list and leave a comment with your New Beer Resolutions for 2009!
Photo by Gavin
Resolution #1: Support your local brewery
There’s never been a better time to support your local brewery and help the local economy! Do you know what your local breweries are? Most cities have a dozen or so small craft breweries or brew pubs that create some interesting and delectable beers.
Here are just a few good reasons why you should seek out and support the breweries in your town or city:
- Beer tastes fresher (better) when you drink it at the brewery – or close to where it was produced.
- Take yourself or out-of-town visitors on a brewery tour for an excellent, inexpensive excursion. You’ll get to drink very cheap, good beer and possibly learn something!
- Like wine, beer has its own unique regional flavors and styles. Sample your local craft beers to get a taste of the local history.
- Most breweries will produce seasonal beers – often only available on tap at the premises. You can be one of the select few to taste some truly unique beer during the year.
- You’ll be helping your local economy by buying beers that were locally produced. You’ll also be helping keep alive the diversity of craft beers that are now widely available. Drinking has never been so noble!
Photo by rjuliana
Resolution #2: Drink (fewer, but) better beers
Okay, so this resolution is partly aimed at those of you that want to lead a slightly healthier life, without compromising on your social life or beer habit. Do you usually pick up a six or twelve pack of beers for a Friday night? Perhaps you stop at a bar and partake in the happy hour special of a cheap pitcher of draft beer? These habits may be hard to break, but one great way of reducing your intake of beer is to substitute quality for quantity.
Many of us order our beer habitually, and it’s often based on the lowest price per case / pitcher. Unfortunately, with beer – as with much in life – you usually get what you pay for. Cheap beer may get you drunk, but what about the taste?
So, the next time you’re in a bar and thinking or ordering your ‘usual’, ask the barman to get you his favorite local brew. Or, when you’re in the grocery store, pass by the shiny blue or red case of cans and pick a beer bottle with a strange-sounding name or a six-pack from a city or country that you’ve never visited before. You’ll be guaranteed a much more interesting drinking session.
Remember: life’s too short for poor quality beer.
Photo by g-point
Resolution #3: Brew your own beer
January is a great time to start a new hobby, and what better hobby to choose than home brewing? Once you begin, you’ll be a life-long home brewer, proudly boasting of all the money you’re saving (in these tough economic times!) and the excellent quality beer you’re producing.
It’s often difficult to know where to start with home brewing, but there are a few good options. Firstly, you can try your hand at easy home brewing with a special kit that will do most of the hard work for you. Mr. Beer and Beer Machine are two of the popular kits that will give you everything you need to create your own beer within weeks.
If you want to jump in at the deep end and start crafting your own unique beers by hand, you can equip yourselves with the essential home-brewing materials and learn the entire process from the beginning. A good place to start is at the MoreBeer website, where they stock all of the basics. The brilliant, popular HomeBrewTalk site will help you with any questions when you get started.
Your choice for how to being home brewing may depend on your time or money availability, but either way, you’ll discover a rewarding new hobby that will pay back dividends during those dark January nights.
Photo by nickwinch
Resolution #4: Cook with beer
Often overlooked in favor of wine, beer is an excellent ingredient to cook with. If you haven’t tried out an Irish stew cooked with Guinness or a beer-infused loaf of bread, then you’re missing out!
By using beer as an ingredient in your dish, you’ll enhance the flavor of your meals and discover new depths to your favorite beers. It’s also a great way to ensure you pair the right beer with the right food. Surprisingly, beer is a good ingredient in all types of food – bread, cookies, stews, risotto – and once you attempt a few recipes, you’ll have good fun experimenting by adding some beer to other interesting dishes.
Why not start with something simple? This recipe for Oatmeal Stout Brownies was a finalist in the 2006 Cooking with Beer Challenge:
The malt and oats in the beer enhance the flavor of the chocolate in these delicious brownies. Not overly cake-ey, not overly fudge-ey, the texture is nicely balanced. They’re also decadently chocolate, and surprisingly light. Great with a fruity beer, such as a lambic (Framboise, yum!)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted room temperature butter, cut into cubes
8 ounces dark bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup superfine or granulated sugar
1-1/4 cups (10 ounces) Oatmeal Stout beer (room temperature)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with nonstick foil (or grease and flour – or parchment paper…your call).
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt until evenly combined. Set aside.
Melt butter, bittersweet chocolate, and white chocolate chips in a double-boiler over very low heat, stirring constantly until melted. Remove from heat.
In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add melted chocolate mixture, beating until combined.
Beat reserved flour mixture into melted chocolate mixture. Whisk in stout beer. The batter will seem a bit thin. Drop semisweet chocolate chips evenly on top of batter (some will sink in).
Pour into prepared baking pan.
Beat cream cheese in medium bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually beat in sugar. Beat in vanilla and 1 egg just until blended.
Pour cream cheese mixture over brownie batter in pan; cut through mixture with knife several times for marbled design.
Bake 25 to 35 minutes on center rack in the oven, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean.
Let brownies cool, uncovered, to room temperature. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving if desired.
Makes 18 (cut ~ 2×3) to 24 (cut ~ 2×2) if cut to desert size. For finger-food/snack portions you could halve the above dimensions to get 36-48 portions.
Copyright © 2006, Joe Stutler, www.beer-u.com
Photo by nosheep
Resolution #5: Travel with your beer
This resolution can be done literally or virtually. When planning your next vacation, why not use beer as the inspiration for your destination? An obvious idea is to visit Munich for Oktoberfest, but if you go off-season, you’ll be rewarded with smaller crowds and equally good beer. You could pick countless destinations in Europe where entire weeks could be spent beer tasting from brewery to brewery – with some time left over for sight-seeing, of course. In the US, there are beer festivals held throughout the year and are the perfect excuse to visit an old friend or a new city. Before you book your flights, check out this comprehensive list of festivals.
If you’re not the travelling type, you can still expand your horizons with your beer enjoyment. Many of us fall into the habit of picking up our favorite beer each time we visit the store. For a change, why not pick up a new beer once a month. A good idea is to choose your beer based on a new country or city of origin each month, so you’ll get to learn about the unique style and flavors. Over the course of the year, you’ll have expanded your tasting repertoire immensely and will have discovered new favorites along the way.
Photo by purdywurdy
Have you made any beer-related New Year resolutions? Will you take on any of the ideas above? Leave a comment and let us know!