Vinnie Neuberg

For the last 19 years, Denver’s Wynkoop Brewing Co. has crowned the Beer Drinker of the Year. The brewery claims that the winner must not only be “someone who truly enjoys, appreciates, and drinks beer, but knows a great deal about how beer is made, its legend and lore, and can demonstrate the range and depth of their beeriness.” Sound unachievable? It’s not! Just a few weeks ago, this woman won the title, along with free beer for life!

But for those of you who can’t make it out to Denver, Colorado, for next year’s event, we here at The Beer Necessities have established our own universal list of steps to achieving an even more prestigious title: Beer Drinker of the Decade. You may not win any free beer, but if you follow these steps, we guarantee you’ll not only learn more about beer – you’ll begin to appreciate the world’s best beverage on a whole new level.

1. Take a break from wine
With all of the beer drinking you’re about to do, you don’t have time for wine! And there’s plenty of beers that have wine-like qualities: For example, we recently visited Asheville, North Carolina’s Wicked Weed Brewing and sipped their White Angel, a splendid barrel-aged sour ale made with local Muscadine grapes. But if you absolutely must indulge in some spoiled grape juice now and then, there’s plenty of beery wine out there – whether canned, dry-hopped, or poured from a tap.

2. Download Untappd to your phone
Trust us: Untappd is the easiest way to keep track the beers you drink. With this app, you’ll never again have to ask yourself, “What was that delicious beer I had three weeks ago at that bar I forget the name of?” Now you can drink that Australian-Style Pale Ale again! You can also use the app as a recommendation engine. If you link up with your friends on there, you’ll see what they’re drinking. Maybe you’ll love the same beer, too. Part of the fun of becoming Beer Drinker of the Decade is the beer exploration you get to do!
credits:"Nicholas Britsky" align:center

3. Drink at least one beer in every style
We know what you’re thinking: “This one’s easy -- I’ll drink a stout, an IPA, and a few German beers.” Oh, you gentle soul. There are so many beer styles. So, so, so many styles. In fact, 98 different styles of brews were entered into this year’s Great American Beer Festival. Granted, it’ll probably take you a while to find that Australian-Style Pale Ale (if you haven’t already stumbled upon it at some bar by using Untappd), but the hunt is part of the fun! I can tell you that after I started drinking beers that horrified me, it opened my eyes to a whole bunch of new beers I used to dismiss. So get out there and enjoy a German-style Rye Ale, won’t you?

4. Outfit your house with beer gadgets
We’ve already done the tough work of trying out a number of beer-themed gadgets (everything from a shower beer holder to a wearable BAC tracker). Not all of them were slam dunks, but we’ll be damned if there’s no place in your life for a bottle opener that can fire bottle caps over 16 feet. After all, there’s no better way to show your friends that you’re super into beer than by launching bottle caps into their faces as they sit at the other end of your living room in a confused stupor. Oh, and obviously the device opens beers, too, which you’ll need if you’re going to become the Beer Drinker of the Decade. Do some research and experimenting to figure out which beer gadgets will enrich your life and make your drinking experience more complete.

credits:"Nicholas Britsky"

5. Homebrew at least once
If you’re not someone who’s good with their hands (or brains…or following simple directions), you can still start homebrewing fairly easily. But understanding how beer is made is critical to becoming the Beer Drinker of the Decade. And instead of just reading graphic novels that illustrate the brewing process, actually brewing is the only surefire way to make it crystal clear. If you’re wary of investing in equipment, you should hit up a local homebrewing shop that guides you through the process. It’s both fun and enlightening, and in the end you get to drink your creation!

6. Embark on at least one beer vacation a year
While shopping for bottles from other states and countries is critical to gaining a larger appreciation for beer, nothing beats actually traveling to another city and drinking indigenous stuff there. Different parts of the country prefer different styles depending on the weather and local tastes. Drinking honey ales in New Orleans in the 500-degree heat was an experience I couldn’t replicate sitting at home or in an air conditioned bar elsewhere. A honey ale wouldn’t taste nearly as refreshing anywhere else! Explore the beer world outside your home city by checking out this guide to planning a beer vacation.

7. Bathe in beer
Shampoo it into your hair. Rub it into your skin. BECOME ONE WITH BEER! Okay, maybe don’t simply douse yourself with a fire hose hooked up to a draft system-- but we promise if you groom with beer-infused products, you won’t be disappointed.

credits:"Ethan Fixell"

Note: Wicked Weed Brewing Co. is a member of The High End, owned by Anheuser-Busch.