When I was in college, Bud Light was my beer of choice. I wouldn’t say it’s because I enjoyed the flavor, but mostly because it was cheap and easily accessible. After college, I graduated to Miller Lite. This switch mostly occurred because I thought that Miller Lite had fewer calories. Again, it wasn’t the taste I was enjoying, simply the ability to procure it, consume it, and not pay too much for it. But finally, and thank goodness for this hallelujah moment, I discovered what “good” beer tastes like and I haven’t looked back (except to get my Lite Weight badge on Untappd).
I discovered craft beer by attending a festival in Cincinnati with my husband. There simply were no macro beers (beers brewed in large capacities and widely-distributed) present. I tried pretty much everything and found that I couldn’t drink “hoppy” beers, but beers that were on the malty side, or those that didn’t have the bitterness of an IPA, were pretty darn good. These were usually Belgian Strongs, Browns, Porters, Stouts, and Wheat beers. I gravitated towards a beer by North Coast Brewing called Brother Thelonious which is a Belgian Abbey ale, which makes it pretty smooth and rich at the same time. It also packed a punch at 9%.
From that time forward, my beer tastes have changed drastically. I still enjoy a good malty beer, but not nearly as much as an over-the-top hop bomb. Stouts and Porters that are well made are amazing and spend a lot of time in my refrigerator (and my belly) in the winter. I’m not a huge brown fan anymore and sometimes wheats seem too light for my palate. But learning about what I might enjoy was a process that I am here to help you with.
I think that sometimes people go about trying craft beer in a way that may not work. Giving a Coors Light fan a 100 IBU beer is usually not going to convert her. I also see a lot of guys at bars ordering fruity beers for their dates. I don’t know if this is because the women are requesting something like that or if it is because it is stereotypical. While fruity beers (we call them lambics or framboise) and ciders are a great start and will often be an enjoyable beer, they don’t necessarily get the drinker to move towards other styles of beer, such as an IPA. Start small and know the styles to make great recommations.
Bell’s Lager of the Lakes (American Pale Lager) – beautiful color, crisp finish
Avery’s Joe’s Premium (American Pale Lager) – this one has a nice bite of hops but is an easy sipping bee
Victory Prima Pils (German Pilsener) – really no bitterness, just a solid, crisp, clean beer
Three Floyds Gumballhead (American Pale Wheat Ale) – this one is a good amount hoppier than the others
A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ (American Pale Wheat Ale) – also a bit hoppy
Avery White Rascal (Witbier) – more of a clear beer with a great balance of orange and coriander
Great Lakes Holy Moses (Witbier) – a bit cloudy, but really a great beer. Tastes like orange, without the need for any additional citrus.
Alpha King Pale Ale (American Pale Ale) – a bit hoppy, but so smooth
Victory Summer Love (American Blonde Ale) – I love this beer in the summer. It is so smooth and an easy drinker.
Green Flash Rayon Vert (Belgian Pale Ale) – Rayon Vert tends to be a bit spicy, floral, and citrusy. Pure joy.
Honestly though, you can interchange any of these beers to fit your particular beer wants and needs. You can also choose any beers you see on tap or on the shelf that fit into these categories. The main goal is to try things that may be similar, but also a bit more complex and flavorful than what you are used to. All of the beers listed are at the top of their categories in ratings on Beeradvocate.com. I also tried to list beers that were relatively easy to get in a variety of markets and ones that I personally enjoy.
So next time you have the option to try something new, go for it. This list can help get you started, or you can just be brave and jump in. Knowing that Pale Ales, Lagers, Pilsners, and Wheat Beers are easy drinkers can help any new beer drinker choose wisely when ordering craft beer.