**Sorry for my absence! Will explain later :) For now, I have a great guest post for you.My friend Ryan writes a quality beer blog over at In Search of Beer . You may remember my recent Steak with Stout Pan Sauce guest post over there. He was kind enough to write a guest post about where to start if you “don’t like beer.” Try one of his suggestions – I guarantee your taste buds will explode and you’ll ever go back!"**
I love everything about craft beer. I love drinking it, I love smelling it, I love writing about it and I love talking about it. What I love most, however, is introducing other people to craft beer. As anyone who is passionate about something can attest, turning someone on to something you love is a great feeling. Unfortunately though, craft beer can be a lot like hip-hop music: everyone’s heard of it, but most people only have experience with the watered-down, mass consumption garbage they play on the radio and don’t want to waste their time on digging further into something they think they won’t like.
Ninety percent of the time, people who don’t like beer have never made it past the American macro-lagers like Bud, Miller, or Coors. I’ve made it my life’s mission over the last five years to drink as many beers as possible, and even I don’t like those beers, so someone who isn’t the biggest fan of beer to begin with isn’t going to, either. If that’s all you’ve had, don’t give up! The trick is zeroing in on things you do like and finding it in a beer. With the current explosion we’re going through with craft beers, chances are you’ll find somewhere to start. Here’s a list of a few things you may like that can be jumping-off points for you.
Fruit. Fruit is very popular in beers, and you can find a beer that tastes of almost any fruit you like. Enjoy peaches? Try Dogfish Head’s Festina Peche. Strawberries? Lancaster Brewing Company’s Strawberry Wheat is right up your alley. Blueberries? Sea Dog’s Blueberry Ale and Fegley’s Brew Works’ Blueberry Belch are great. Pyramid’s Apricot Wheat and Wells’ Banana Bread Beer should be equally obvious.
White Wine. Many, many people who don’t yet know they enjoy beer are wine drinkers. Beer is most like white wine, so if you’re a fan, you may want to look to sour ales. Duchesse du Bourgogne is an excellent idea for a wine drinker—not too sour, but not anywhere near the beer taste they’re used to. The Berliner Weisse style is very light (hovering between 3-4% ABV) and slightly tart, which should make a great introduction. Find Professor Fritz Bream’s 1809 Berliner Weisse and you’ll be golden.
Chocolate. Chocolate Stout is a style all to itself and, while the darker beers may scare people at first, give them a try. Start with Southern Tier’s Choklat, which tastes almost like spiked chocolate milk, and then move on to Great Divide’s Chocolate Yeti.
Coffee. There are plenty of beers brewed with coffee as well, so if you like the rich, roasty taste, seek out some of these. Meantime’s Coffee Porter has an intense coffee flavor that you may want to add cream and sugar to, but Troegs Javahead is a bit more laid back. For the slightest of coffee tastes, try to track down Mikkeller’s Koppi IPA, and IPA with just the faintest undertones of coffee, as if they’d only added the scent rather than the taste.
Salami. One of the greatest surprises people get when I introduce them to a new beer is from rauchbier, the German smoked beer. The malts are smoked over beechwood, which impart a huge smoky, meaty flavor and can turn the beer into something akin to liquid salami. Nowhere is this more apparent, or perfectly handled, than with Schlenkerla Urbock. There are plenty other great rauchbiers (Spezial makes solid versions as does Sly Fox), but the gold standard is Schlenkerla.
Cheese. It is amazing how well the two go together. If you can pick out the right beer style to go with the right cheese style, the pairing is amazing, and many minds have been changed with this little trick. Pair a sweet barleywine with a blue cheese or an IPA with a musty, earthy cheese and watch peoples’ entire perception of the beverage change. Yes, it can be that good.
As an added tip, avoid any beer, for now, with the words “Imperial” or “Double” in the title, as their flavor may be too intense just yet.
Hopefully, these will work as a few jumping off points to help you or someone you love start to enjoy craft beer a little more or at least to get you thinking about it. Beer comes in many shapes and sizes, so ignore the guys like Bud and Miller and start to think outside the box. If you look around, it’s impossible not to find something you’ll like.