Good news for the beer-lovers out there: you can get free beer. Drinking is expensive. Pre-gaming doesn’t have the appeal as it once did and now that you’re of age, you want to hit the bars with your friends and proudly flaunt that ID of yours.
What you didn’t expect: many bars only accept cash. And the ones that do take plastic usually have a minimum between 10 and 20 dollars. That’s insanity if you ask me.
Luckily, most bars will give you free samples if you ask. However, I sometimes like to play the part of the annoying, know-it-all barfly, especially if the bartender is being a bit of a jerk. The trick to getting free samples? You first have to have a general knowledge of beers.
There are two kinds of beer — ales and lagers. Everything else — pilsner, stout, porter — is a derivative of those two main kinds. The best way to know your beers is to begin with the beers that you’ve had before, or have heard of.
Blue Moon, for instance, is a wheat beer and a fairly popular one. It has that cloudy, orangey color and is typically served with a slice of orange.
And everyone has heard of IPAs. If you say you haven’t heard of it, learn to pay attention to your surroundings. Seriously, I’m worried about you. It is the trending brew. If you have heard of it and detest it like I do, you know how difficult it is to avoid them.
IPA stands for India Pale Ale, and is not like the others because of the amount of hops it has in it, which is a whole hell of a lot. A small amount of hops is typically added for flavor and as a preservative.
Porters and stouts are the darker-colored beers. A very popular stout is Guinness —which, interestingly, is one of the only beers carbonated with nitrogen. Pay attention next time a bartender pours a draft Guinness; the foam is signature.
One thing to be clear about: a darker beer does not mean a higher ABV, unfortunately. If you’re looking to get shwasty off just one or two, I’d suggest Golden Monkey. Drink with caution.
Stouts and porters typically taste chocolaty-malty; a flavor that I don’t think tastes great after more than one, and a beer that sits heavy.
The second trick to getting free beer: act like a beer aficionado. Know what you like and don’t like — if you don’t like Blue Moon, you’ll most likely not like any other wheat beer. If you don’t like Sierra Nevada, Pale Ales are not your thing.
Lastly, when you cutely and innocently ask for a sample of the ice cream at Cold Stone or whatever weird cult-like ice cream place you like, you’re basically just working the system. You can do this at a bar too! Just. Ask. It’s so simple.
When you’re at a loss for what to order or buy, you might as well go for the Sam Adams Boston Lager. It’s popular because it appeals to most palates. It’s medium-bodied and there’s nothing outrageous or too flavorful about it.