You’re not imagining it: There are more styles and brands of beer than ever before. Not only does the United States currently have its highest number of breweries in history—at more than 8,800—but the variety of beer sold in stores has exploded.
Beer distributors, who buy beer from breweries and deliver it to stores, have vastly increased the mix of beers they sell. In 1996, the typical beer distributor carried 196 kinds of beer. By 2018, the typical beer distributor carried 1,174. For shoppers who don’t consider themselves beer aficionados, the sheer number of options on the shelf today can be overwhelming.
We know flummoxed shoppers don’t always make the best purchases. Whether it’s at the butcher counter or in the beer aisle, you want to come prepared with an idea of what you like, what you’re looking for, and where to find it. Here are a few simple steps to become more confident in the beer cooler.