I Don’t Like Beer
Finding The Right Craft Beer For You
I’m always curious when I meet someone and they say they don’t like beer. Has the person tried all the craft and commercial beer options available or did they have Bud Light on tap at a college party and that ruined beer for them?
When I probe a little deeper, the answer is usually somewhere in between. Most people are familiar with the major commercial beers, which they often don’t like, and have only tried a few styles of craft beer. With the broad spectrum of beer flavors and styles available, I can see how this can be a confusing undertaking. How do you find the right craft beer for your personal taste?
I have assembled an easy to follow instruction guide for this challenge. The following are just a few helpful hints to get you started on your beer tasting adventure.
Light and Crisp
Most commercial beers in the U.S. are basically American pilsners. This is a light, crisp style of beer that is generally smooth and easy to drink. Other similar styles include blond ales, cream ales, pale lagers, German or Czech pilsners, and saisons. Although each of these styles offer different taste profiles, they all share the qualities of low hop bitterness, light mouthfeel, crisp carbonation, and a refreshing finish. These are great “beginner beers” when you’re not sure where to start.
Dark and Bold
I usually suggest holding off on these styles until you’ve explored other options, but some people like to jump right to the dark side. Dark lagers, porters, and stouts are probably the most well known darker beers. Many think of Guiness when dark beers are mentioned, but there are many excellent dark beers that are flavorful and complex. These styles are obviously dark in color, and are usually full bodied with a thick mouthfeel and may feature robust flavors that hint at chocolate, coffee, or toffee.
Middle of the Road
There are many great tasting beer styles that are just simple, basic beers. Not too light, not too dark, not too hoppy … just a nice middle of the road beer that is a pleasure to drink. Amber ales, red ales, English milds, brown ales, and Oktoberfests fall into this category. They usually feature some light hoppiness, but the malt backboneis where the true flavor comes through. When you hear a beer described as malty, bready, or biscuity, it usually means the malt flavor is the focus of that beer. These are excellent brews for watching sports and go great with a burger and fries or a plate of hot wings.
Hoppy beers are for the truly adventurous and not for the faint at heart. I usually suggest easing into these styles of beer as the strong hop flavor and sometimes high bitterness can be a little overwhelming. Pale ales and IPAs are the most well known styles of hoppy beers, but keep your eye out for any beer advertising “American style.” This term has become synonymous with the hoppy version of that style of beer. Don’t be afraid of these beers. Hops provide an amazing sensory experience with complex aromas and flavors that range from citrus, grapefruit, and mango to pine, stonefruit, and lemongrass.
Although technically not a specific style, beers that are high in alcohol content offer a wide range of flavor profiles and intensity. Generally any beer above 8% ABV falls into this category. Imperial Stouts, Double IPAs, barleywines, and Belgian quads all feature complex flavors combined with a wonderful alcohol warmth in every sip. These are great beers to enjoy on a cold winter day sitting by a roaring fire.
I hope these tips are helpful in your beer tasting journey. Remember to start simple so you don’t get overwhelmed with intense, unexpected flavors. Many local brewpubs feature flights of beer. A flight usually features 5-6 oz. of several different beers. That way you get to try a variety of styles. And don’t forget, you can always ask for small pour samples before ordering a full pint. CHEERS!