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The Non-Beer Snob's Guide to Ordering at a Craft Beer Bar

Five steps to navigating complicated beer menus without all the fuss.
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There’s plenty to admire about America’s craft beer renaissance: the wide variety and distribution of unique beers, the rise of local breweries, and the steady decline of light beer. With more than 3,000 breweries nationwide, it’s easier than ever to find a great craft beer near you. But as the industry grows, so does the complexity of the average beer menu. These days, even relatively standard beer lists can contain arcane terms like “nitro,” “IBU,” and “flux capacitor” (yes, it’s a real thing). What are the more casual beer drinkers among us to do?

Don’t panic, for starters. You don’t have to transform yourself into a weirdly intense "beer person" to try (and enjoy) something new at a "fancy" beer bar. For help cutting through the jargon, we spoke to Greg Engert, the James Beard Award-nominated beer director of Neighborhood Restaurant Group in Virginia and Washington, D.C. The world of craft beer can be “overwhelming,” Engert admits, and even “a little bit pretentious”—but it doesn't have to be. By following these five simple steps, you’ll be able walk away from any craft beer bar experience without wanting to murder the beer snob friend who dragged you there in the first place.