Of all the possible porch-based activities, listening to records and drinking beer are two of my favorites. So I was pretty eager to chip in on a National Public Radio story pairing jazz tunes with beers. There was milk stout and IPA. There was Charles Mingus and Quarteto Novo. There was also smart, newbie-friendly guidance by NPR’s Lars Gotrich, who turned me onto some great bands for summer listening.

Sipping good beer on a leafy, shaded porch, and lounging around a record player with friends, I rediscovered how fun it is to really be conscious of the music you’re listening to, and to talk about the beer you’re drinking. Both music and beer often fade to the background, but at this tasting/listening party, everyone came away discovering something new.

Next time you pick up a nice six-pack or bottle, make an occasion of it. Pour a few glasses for you and your friends and talk about what each of you are tasting, what you like and dislike about the beer. You’ll learn a lot, and in the long run you’ll drink more beer you like.

Photo by Lars Gotrich / NPR