Can I Buy You a Beer?
Copyright © 1998 Christine Stoner. All rights reserved.
I don't know many people who don't enjoy a good beer. It works for any occasion and transcends all social classes. Beer is the perfect beverage for a Sunday football game or an elegant evening dinner party. I for one love beer, and I can see that many others do as well because there are more Web sites dedicated to this enticing beverage than could possibly be covered in one article! Be assured my research was very complete; not only did I visit and sign up with many of the sites, but I also sampled many of the beers I found recommended there. What follows are some really interesting, unique and entertaining beer sites to be found when surfing the Web!
The first place you should stop in your online pub crawl is The Real Beer Page. This page, updated daily, contains a ton of information covering every imaginable beer topic--and even some that are unimaginable. There's information about types of beer, brewpubs, microbreweries, homebrewing, and the beer industry as a whole. The site includes an extensive, searchable brewery and pub database as well as a comprehensive listing of beer event calendars. Another good jumping-off point for the beer experience has a name which says it all: All About Beer Online. Not only can you absorb the online information provided on this comprehensive Web site, but you can also sign up for a variety of newsletters through this organization.
Before you go any further, stop by a must-see site for real beer drinkers. Beer.com is a beer drinker's paradise and will bring back happy memories of spending an hour or two (maybe more) at a bar or pub drinking with old friends and making new ones. Share a chuckle as you read other beer drinkers' outrageous beer stories, and even submit a story of your own. One section provides homebrewing advice from other homebrewers, but the real beauty of this site can be found in the explanation of beer drinking games, champion beer-gut photos, and my personal favorite, the Chug-a-Lug Club!
Brewing your own beer has become a large industry and, for many, a personal challenge. Did you know that by homebrewing you're avoiding paying the exorbitant alcohol tax since the basic ingredients used for making beer are sold tax-free? Most homebrewers, however, enjoy brewing their own beer for the challenge, enjoyment and personal satisfaction.
There are a lot of sites where you can buy everything you need for homebrewing. All of them offer kits, so if you're a novice to homebrewing, you can easily get started. Aardvark Brewing Supply offers an online catalog with an 800 number to call if you'd like to order brewing supplies. If you go to their Techniques section you can pick up 11 great tips for improving your beer brewing.Hearts Home Brew Supply also carries all the brewing supplies you could possibly ask for; a cute dog named "Nicky" will search for and fetch what you want. If you're in the mood for a Southwestern twist, visit Albuquerque-based Bootlegger's Supply and check out their recipe section for a Roasted Chili Ale. If you brew your own beer you may want to consider specialty labels, so visit Sundown Beer & Wine Labels for inexpensive labels, personalized for any occasion. They boast an extremely quick turn-around time.
Two refreshing sites, created by two people who take their beer very seriously, are Stephen Beaumont's World of Beer and Michael Jackson's (no, not the singer) official Beer Hunter. Both sites are chock-full of interesting information and tips on beer from all over the world. To touch base with other beer drinkers, you can join the Beer Master's Tasting Society. By becoming a member you'll receive their "Tap Time" newsletter, and through their Web site you can buy hats and Beer Master T-shirts.
Continuing on the pub crawl, you may come across Ale Street News, a "brewpaper" now online. This publication is full of interesting information, and includes a direct link to Pubmaster, from which you can search for Microbreweries, Brewpubs and Beer Bars in any city. It's a great way to plan for places you may want to visit on an upcoming vacation or business trip. There's also a regular section on homebrewing, as well as some other easy-to-access features including festivals and other beer "hoppenings" listed by month.
I've always heard that people will collect anything, but collecting beer cans (and other beer memorabilia) seems like a very worthwhile task to me, especially if you collect them empty. If you're looking for beer paraphernalia, you have to visit Breweriana. This is the place to go if you're buying or selling the full spectrum of beer memorabilia including cans, caps, coasters, trays, labels, matchbooks, openers and other brewery antiques. If your collection leans specifically to beer caps, then The Beer Cap Page is your spot. This is a great place to hook up with other collectors (there are 82 listed from 21 countries), participate in chats or see how you do identifying beer by the cap on their quiz. (I couldn't identify any myself!) A final collector site I'll mention is the Beer Can Collectors of America.
There are many breweries to be found online, some big, some small.Molson offers not just a Web site, but an online experience! After registering as a new user you can join a hockey pool, chat or, of course, read the history of Molson. If you'd like a brewery tour, order their free Brewery Tour CD-ROM.
Another must-see brewery site is Labatt. You can visit this site as a guest or register as a user for even more access. Guests to the Labatt site can take a virtual tour of the brewery or read news about Labatt, the brewery's history and some useful information on responsible use. As with Molson, hockey is a big deal for this group, so visit their screening room for an exciting hockey experience as well as a look at Labatt commercials!
Visit Moosehead Beer and download some great screensavers, or play some Moosehead trivia. Take a minute and click on the "Know Your Beer" section for the Six Don'ts of Being a Moosehead Beer Drinker.
A few other breweries online include Samuel Adams, Yuengling and Redhook Breweries. Two of my favorite areas in the Samuel Adams site were the Beer Styles section and the Brewery Tour. Visiting the brewery online gives you access to some of their varieties that you may never have seen in your local distributor or neighborhood. The site is very well done and if you have a minute, you should take the Virtual Brewery Tour. Yuengling, is America's oldest brewery and was founded in 1829. If you're looking for a description of their craft beer offerings, click on the Fine Beers section. Headquartered in the Northwest, Redhook Breweries features a well-organized site. You can take a virtual tour of their Brewhouse, Cellar or Packaging, or take a minute to "Meet the Beers."
One European site worth a look is BreWorld presents itself as Europe's largest beer and brewing Internet site. It's a great place to visit for some international flavor in your beer research--a very easy-to-use site with some clever twists and interesting information.
Finally, here are a few odds and ends you may find useful in your exploration into beer online. Need a gift basket for any occasion? How about a beer basket? Visit Beer Basket USA or World Beer Direct for some great gifts to send or receive. World Beer Direct also offers a Beer of the Month (and a Cigar of the Month, the perfect complement to an excellent beer).
I hope you enjoy the many sites I've mentioned as much as I did, but be sure to allow a lot of time for your online pub crawl. I know every site I visited made me feel like having a cold one. These were some of my favorites but they're certainly not all the beer sites out there. Don't forget to check the links on each of these pages for other places to visit and share a brew! Oh, and while you're at it, why don't you send a virtual beer across the Net to a friend via the Spoetzl Brewery? After all, is there any better way to say hello? Cheers!
Christine Stoner is a freelance writer out of Elverson, PA. She is also the editor of TimeTipz, a newsletter providing timesaving tips for busy women.