What is the difference between an IPA and a porter? Wait, what does IPA stand for, again?

For answers to these questions and more craft-beer-related conundrums, all one needs is to turn to Michael Jackson. Not the gravity-defying King of Pop, but the British writer and journalist whose 1977 World Guide to Beer outlined the basic notions that define the craft-beer industry today.

You’ll find gems from Jackson’s book and other helpful tricks to becoming a brew expert on James Squire’s website, which dedicated to exploring not just the brewery’s own creations, but also untangling the sometimes overwhelming world of craft beer. Once you’ve brushed up on basic beer types (crib notes: porters are dark and chocolate-y, IPAs are strong, yet light and sparkling) you’ll naturally be looking for the best spots to find them. That’s where we come in.

There are many reasons why McCoppins in Fitzroy is so loved by locals. There are hundreds of beers on the shelves (including an array of internationals and home-grown varieties such as James Squire and party favourite Little Fat Lamb), a midnight closing time (so it’s not a mad rush to get to the bottlo) plus, it’s independently owned.

Further North in Thornbury you’ll find Carwyn Cellars, Ben Carwyn’s bottle-shop-cum-craft-beer-heaven. Since 2007, Carwyn has been expanding its list of ales, which now sits at a healthy 200. A wholehearted supporter of local brands, Carwyn stocks Australian talent such as Kooinda and Murray’s Whale Ale, plus you can sink your beer in the 50-person Back End Bar at the back of the shop, or at the tables outside

These are just a few of the destinations listed in James Squire’s guide to Melbourne’s best bottle shops for craft beer. A quick trawl of the brewer’s website also reveals how to host the perfect barbeque,where to find a craft-beer dinner and for those that way inclined, how to cook with cider.

We’ll be sharing our favourites on the Broadsheet Directory in the next few weeks to help you on your journey to mastering the craft.

Uncover more about craft beer at jamessquire.com.au/beer. James Squire is a Broadsheet partner.