If you’re reading this blog, odds are you either really like beer already or you are stalking me. If it’s the latter, while I am certainly flattered, I’d rather you just focus on the beer. I’m not worth stalking.
However, there may be some of you out there that haven’t quite acquired a taste, or perhaps you know someone that insists, “I don’t like beer.” As Charlie Papazian said in his book, The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, “to generalize and say, ‘I don’t like beer’ is like saying ‘I don’t like food.'” (p. 363) My theory, as is his, is that you haven’t found the right beer. I hope to provide some tips in this post that will help you bridge the gap.
When I question those that say “I don’t like beer” and ask what beers they have tried, the most common response is, “Well, I’ve tried a lot! Bud Light, Miller Lite, Coors Light, PBR, Natty Light, blah, blah, blah.” Well, no wonder they don’t like beer! They’ve only had one style of beer, and in my opinion, it’s the most bland and least interesting style.
That type of beer is made to sell boatloads to the masses, and since everyone has different tastes, what is the only way to sell to the most people? Take away all the taste and aroma so there is nothing left to offend. It’s the same concept behind pop music, McDonald’s and television.
So, what should you do if you haven’t found a beer that you like? I think a lot of people are intimidated by the vast number of styles and varieties of beer and would rather stick with what they know, even if it isn’t good. If you aren’t willing to experiment, then I can’t help you. Sure, you’re going to waste $4 on a beer now and again, but think of the great beer you might discover with your next pint.
If you are looking for a safe place to start branching out, start thinking about the flavors you like in general and the styles of beer that match. Do you like sweet drinks, like juice or soda? Do you prefer bitter, like coffee? How about sour or citrus, like grapefruit juice? Chocolate? Do you like wine?
I’ve divided up the following suggestions based on the flavor profile you enjoy in other beverages. If you can’t find these exact beers, ask for something similar within that style. Odds are a good tap room or beer store will have something similar.
For those that like sweet juice, try a cider or fruit-flavored beer:
- Woodchuck cider – This is actually what bridged the gap for me years ago. Believe it or not, there was a time I didn’t like beer at all. I did like apple juice, so I tried some Woodchuck. After a few months of getting used to it, I was able to make the jump to light beer. The rest is history.
- Abita Purple Haze – Raspberry-flavored beer. The raspberry flavor is definitely apparent, but it isn’t overly sweet. It has enough raspberry flavor to satisfy those with a sweet tooth, but moderate enough to be enjoyed by those who prefer traditional beer.
- Sweetwater Blue – Blueberry-flavored beer. I haven’t had this myself, but I have had several people swear by it.
- Buffalo Bill’s Orange Blossom Cream Ale – A favorite of the Big Gnome, it’s like drinking an orange creamcicle.
You like light beer, but want something more. Try a hefewiezen or a wheat beer. These beers have a light body and mild flavor, but tend to have a slightly citrus flavor. These are the most common beers that traditional non-beer-drinkers tend to like:
- Blue Moon – Actually a Molson/Coors product, this is the most common wheat beer available. Not the best, but a really good cross-over beer. It has that familiar “macro-brew” twang of the big light lagers, but with a much better flavor.
- Hoegaarden – A true belgian wheat, this is a far step up from Blue Moon and is available at many good bars and beer stores.
- Franziskaner – This is a traditional hefeweizen, or German wheat beer. Excellent citrus flavor and it has a nice, creamy body. They also make a “dunkel” version, which is German for dark. It has a similar flavor to the “hell” or light, but it is slightly sweeter if I remember correctly. It’s been a while since I’ve had the dunkel.
- Left Hand Haystack Wheat – If you really want to get crazy, this is one of the best wheat beers I’ve had. Wonderful citrus flavor, great body and all-around amazing beer.
If you’re just getting into beer, who says you have to stay light? Maybe you should just go for the gusto and get yourself an imperial stout! There are a lot more stouts than just Guinness. If you like dark chocolate (bitter chocolate, in other words) or coffee, try one of these:
- Rogue Chocolate Stout – Like drinking a fudgecicle.
- Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout – Amazing roasty flavor with intense chocolate and coffee flavors. I served this at a beer tasting with a chocolate dessert and it was a smash hit, even among “non-beer-drinkers.”
- Victory Storm King Imperial Stout – If I could be a brewmaster, I would be a Brewmaster of Victory.
If you like wine, but haven’t found a beer that suits you, try a barley wine. Barley wines tend to be very high in alcohol content, usually around 10-12%, which gives it a heavy body and alcohol bite similar to wine. They are also very sweet and have very little, if any bitterness. They are fantastic as after-dinner beverages:
- Flying Dog Horn Dog – Big, dark and sweet. Being a family oriented blog, I can’t insert a joke here.
- Rogue Old Crustacean – Haven’t gotten my hands on one, but it got great reviews and Rogue is always a solid choice.
Finally, we get to the Belgians. Belgian ale is truly unique among beers. Many beers in this style tend to be high in alcohol content, have a spiced fruit flavor and a lighter color. Not the type of beers you’d throw down at a football tailgate, but certainly ones that can be sipped on enjoyably for a while.
- Chimay Blue – Ridiculously good, just ridiculous.
- Unibroue Fin du Monde – A Belgian trippel style, this beer has a spicy aroma and flavor. Not like pepper spicy, but more of a fruity spice. Just try it.
I think I’ve given you enough homework for this week. I hope this gives you some good ideas for beers to try if you’re looking to branch out, or perhaps some suggestions if you’re out with someone that doesn’t know what beer to get. For you guys, this can be especially useful on dates if your date doesn’t typically drink beer. She’ll think you’re all sophisticated and not some Natty Light-drinking slob.
Welcome to the wonderful world of beer. Enjoy!