OK, class. We've gone over a lot of material. Some of it even worth remembering. The point is this ... Beer is good. It is not evil. Not everyone drinking beer is a bum. Not every beer is made to be imbibed by bums. Take me for example. I'm not a bum. Really. I don't sit on the stoop sucking down a jug of suds and then go out and get in a fight. On one of my son's visits home last summer, we had occasion to sit out on the deck in the afternoon and later go out for dinner that same evening. I finished mowing the lawn in early afternoon, and we sat watching the river go by while I enjoyed a chilly bottle of Leinenkugel Creamy Dark, one of my all-time favorites. That evening, I ended my meal with a bottle of Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout - a great brew for sipping and chatting over dessert. My son paused a second and then pointed out: "Dad, I think this is the first time I've ever seen you drink more than one beer in a day." It's true. I very, Very, VERY rarely ever drink more than one beer at a sitting or even the same day. The point is, friends, beer is too good to waste by getting drunk and stupid. Rather than drink more, I would always prefer to drink better. With the same money I might spend on a six-pack of some corporate beer, I can get one or two bottles of some pretty spectacular brews - from both here and abroad. I firmly believe that drinking beer should be more a matter of inspiration than desperation - especially when it comes to tasting the incredibly fine offerings there are out their if you are only willing to get quietly adventurous. So ... There are a couple ways you can have a beer tasting session. First, grab a six-pack. Chug a beer or two. Let loose with a good burp. And say, "That was great!" While that may be the more common method in too many circles, I'd suggest something a little different. Let's take a look at how you can best get the most enjoyment out of a sit-down with a good brew. First, pick something nice. Something you haven't had before. Something that looks ... interesting. Get a nice broad-brimmed, clean glass - same style glass for all of those joining you at the table. A CLEAN glass. (This is really important. It is astonishing how quickly a little residue, gunk or leftover beer from yesterday can ruin the taste of a good brew. Holding your glass at about 45 degrees, pour the beer enthusiastically, hitting the side about half way down. When you get it about half full edge the glass upward while continuing to pour aiming at the center of the glass. This will create a good head, and one that is standard for every person at the table. You want to get a good head on the beer because that is where the most of the aroma is going to be released. People don't realize the head is very scented. You'll get the first blast of hops and malts while sniffing the foam head. BUT ... don't start smelling just yet. Look first at what you're drinking. You've got to appreciate the fact that the distinctive color is the result of a lot of dedicated work by a brewmaster someplace. Check the color, clarity and the play of light on the brew. Try to describe the color. It's fun. (Don't get a strong backlight behind the glass. Just a nice natural light will do just fine. Natural light will actually create a better, truer revelation of color.) Now, gently swirl the beer around in the glass to allow the scents, background aroma and hints to reach the air. Swirling the brew around a bit will force the carbonation in beer to carry even the most delicate scents to the surface. Smell deeply. Get your nose down in the glass and smell using both your nose and a slightly open mouth. Swirl it a bit more if you think there is something hiding - some secondary smell. Close your eyes. Enjoy the sensory experience. Think about it a bit. Now, take a sip. A good sip, enough to not quite fill but to offer a good "wash" around the mouth. Don't swallow. Let the beer "travel" around the mouth hitting all the different taste bud areas. Feel how it feels - the "body," the consistency, the flow. Don't force it around like you might with mouthwash. Let if move, travel, visit. Search for the different tastes. Explore. Find hidden hints of flavor that may be subtle and in the background. Then ... swallow. Now, friends, you don't need to do this with every sip. Please don't. When you're done, you're done. Don't be silly. It's still only beer. You've completed your exploration. Now, enjoy the rest of the brew in the company of good friends. The point isn't the brew. The point is the experience - and any experience is best shared with good friends. Enjoy. White Rascal Belgian Style White Ale Avery Brewing Co. Boulder, Colo. This fine white ale pours somewhat light honey colored and is, in fact, a smoky yellow. There isn't a substantial head and what there is quickly disappears leaving a mild film. This is a cloudy ale - light, but virtually opaque. White Rascal is an unfiltered Belgian-style offering with all the general appearance of the same. At first nose, White Rascal is distinctly fruity, which isn't surprising since the brewer announces on the bottle the addition of at least two very distinctive spices. (I'm not going to tell!) Because this ale is unfiltered, there may be some yeast. Pour more slowly than you might usually, and leave just a touch in the bottom of the bottle. Overall, this is a delicious smelling white ale. Then, we sip. Goodness me! White Rascal is zesty and clean from the first taste. The basic notes are highlighted by the judicious use of the added spices. Nothing overpowering. Nothing cloying. Despite the fruitiness, this is a hearty white ale that carries itself with pride - and deservedly so. White Rascal feels great in the mouth with a slight slap of alcohol in the back of the throat (but again, this doesn't bother). All in all, White Rascal is a tickle. A refreshing surprise in the presentation of background tastes and in its general blend. A great drink for the afternoon when it's hot and you're looking for a good reason to spend quality time in a lawn chair. Well recommended. Chatoe Rogue Dirtoir Black Lager Rogue Ales Newport, Ore. This is an amazing "first growth" black lager with "homegrown" hops and malts (the entire list is on the bottle!). Pouring Dirtoir, one is rewarded with a pitch black lager. Pitch black. Amazing. The creamy brown head holds a thin line and maintains for quite awhile. Clarity? As they say where my daughter lives ... forget about it. You could watch an eclipse of the sun through this lager. There is an oh-my-goodness-quality to the scent - rich and full-bodied. A lager? Really?? This black is distinguished and sweetly grainy, almost offering an espresso nose. There is no yeasty smell. That's good in this case, especially considering the dark offering. (Dark? That's an understatement!) Get deep into this with your nose and eyes before you take the first sip. It's quite an experience. Then you taste Dirtoir. Look - I want to marry the brewmaster! This dark lager has wonderful, wonderful full flavor with well considered and well matched grains. There's a healthy tinge of chocolate, but the malted grains are simply exceptional. The first growth hops add incredible balance without changing the tune at all. This lager fills the mouth as richly as any delicate, distinguished ale ever will. It is smooth and silky with just a touch of hoppy sassiness. This is a sexy brew. It must be sipped, swirled and fully enjoyed. No meats or cheeses with this\u00a0 ... please! No chasers or accompanying shots. LEAVE IT ALONE. Sip this dark lager at sunset with someone you really, REALLY like. Don't waste this lager on the mundane. It's special.