Beginner’s Guide to Beer
There are times when a post is practically screaming to be written.
Over the last few weeks, friends IRL have sought me out to thank me for a beer recommendation… or have asked me for advice on where to start.
I love helping out my friends!!
I didn’t acquire my beer-cred over night though… I’ve experienced quite a few brews. I know what I like, and I’ve recently expanded my pallet to IPAs. Something I didn’t even realize was possible.
So, that is my first piece of advice: try, try, try.
- Tasting is the key to learning what you do & do not like.
- If you’ve been a default Bud Light drinker all your life, how will you know what you enjoy if you don’t look into the amazing variety craft-beer can offer you?
- Many breweries and some bars will offer tastes of the beer they have on tap.
- Some will offer free tastes, others will charge around a dollar/taste.
- Even if you’re not flirting enough with the bartender and get charged a dollar, it’s worth it… better than spending $5+ on a beer you don’t enjoy.
- Go out of your element. If you know you like stouts, try a stout you’ve never heard of. If you see a description of a beer that sounds interesting, go for it!
- Note the beer(s) you did enjoy. If you’re a mental genius, make a mental note. If not, write it down, take a picture &/or keep a log in your iPhone. Let’s face it, the more you taste in one sitting, the likelihood you’ll forget your favorite — or worse — one you hated, grows.
- Many beer labels will thoroughly describe the beer you are about to consume.
- This may seem like an obvious point. But I never realized just how accurate & descriptive many beer labels can be.
- Look online before you hit up a brewery because many will offer a fuller description online than they do if they just list beers on a chalk-board.
- When beer shopping in-store, take your time to read the labels. If something sounds good, it probably is!
- For starters, if you simply don’t think you like beer… figure out what you do like. Because honestly, in the wide-world of beer, there are many paths to great beer experiences!
- Do you like coffee &/or chocolate? Try a stout or porter!
- Carmel? Bourbon? Maple Syrup? Anything aged in a bourbon barrel.
- Grapefruit/citrus? Try an IPA!
- Smoky flavors found in meat & beyond? A scotch ale may be up your alley.
- Spring & Summertime starter-brews.
- Leinenkugal’s Summer Shandy. It’s a light beer you can drink all day that has a crisp, lemony finish. Unlike many shandies that can be too sweet or sour, or may not even taste like beer at all (looking at you, Shock-Top), this shandy fits the bill like nothing else.
- Founder’s Cerise. Made with Traverse City cherries, this is another brew that actually tastes like beer, but still offers a light, cherry finish.
- Short’s Soft Parade. Made with fermented berries, it’s beautiful to look at and even better to drink. I enjoy this year-round. Although be careful, the alcohol content is higher than you’d think.
- Harmony Brewing Co Grapefruit Moon. Slightly hoppier than most shandies, but another brew I could drink all day.
- Dark Horse Crooked Tree IPA. A friend of mine recommended this beer to me recently. Crooked Tree opened my eyes to the wonderful world of IPAs. It’s light, and has a little malt to balance out the hops that eliminates the bitter aftertaste some IPAs may dish out. If you’ve been leery of IPAs in the past because of their intense hop flavor, this is a fantastic place to start.
- Fall & Winter starter-brews.
- Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. Available just about everywhere, this choco-licious stout is a great starter for chocolate lovers.
- Enjoy pumpkin-pie? Is it September? Time to find a good pumpkin ale! My favorite was Michigan Brewing Co’s Screaming Pumpkin Ale… but MBC has closed *sigh* so I’ll be going back to the drawing board this fall.
- Dark Horse Fore Smoked Stout. Like drinking a campfire. Yum.
- New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk. A dark ale aged in oak barrels, it’s a belly-warmer! If you really want to have a little fun and enjoy coffee, pick up some Espresso Vodka & add a shot to a pint of it. But, please do yourself a favor and do not drink more than two of these bad-boys. They pack a punch… and you don’t want to turn into a spewing dragon.
- Any beer that mentions a spice like cinnamon or jalapeno. If you’re a fan of spice, why not try a beer with a spicy kick? When I attended the Summer Beer Fest last year, my favorite was the Red Hot Shocker. It smelled like Red Hots, but the jalapeno finish was amazing. I was leery at first, but so happy I tried it.
Hope some of these ideas help those of you still wishy-washy on beer go out and try a few.
Let me know which of these brews changed your tune… or if I steered you in the wrong direction all together!
Are you already a beer lover? What beer expanded your palette and made you want more?
Happy Thirsty Thursday, friends!
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