no. 249

"I don't like draft beer. I used to only get draft because I thought it was fresher, but then my friend said that draft beer gave her headaches, so we put it to the test one weekend and found out that bottled beer gave us less headaches than draft. I think it has to do with the aeration."

I overheard these words while standing in line at the Central Waters booth at Burnhearts' Mitten Fest in Milwaukee. Normally, I’d rather not butt into someone's conversation, but as I stood there eavesdropping, I was reminded of the diversity of craft beer consumers. Around me, there were beer nerds patiently waiting for Central Waters to tap their celebrated Imperial Stout, Black Gold, there were 60-year-olds camped out at the tables inside Burnhearts—one of the area’s best and coziest beer bars—since before the fest opened, and there were people, like this group, just looking for a good time filled with beer, food, and music.

Even though craft beer has acquired a huge following over the years, education around stuff like freshness and draft-line maintenance still has a long way to go. Maybe it was the frigid temperatures causing my brain to feel as if it was disintegrating, or maybe it was because I was a few Central Waters barrel-aged beers deep. But I couldn't sit this one out. 

"What kind of bars do you guys go to?" I asked, and the conversation went from there.

—Matthew Sampson