You don’t have to be a non-beer drinker to read this!
So you don’t like beer? Well, that’s about to change. Let’s start with your favorite drink— wine, whiskey, gin & tonic, a Cosmo; you might be surprised to find that beer complements a wide variety of beverage characteristics. Chances are, you just haven’t found the right beer style.
Here are a few beer-ginner tips to help you find the right one:
1. Opt for the lightest color beer
Struggling to hang at that beer-centric event, but you don’t want to turn down a perfectly good reason to party? Lighter beers such as Lagers (the PBR of nicer beers) or Pilsners are safe go-tos. Subtle and approachable, they are way easier to throw back than a hoppy IPA for newer beer drinkers.
2. Is it “hoppy”?
Hops, those tiny flower-like plants that grow on vines much like grapes do add flavor and stabilize beer. There are two main categories of hops: bittering hops give beer its bitter quality; finishing hops added at the end of the brewing process give beer complex flavors and a distinct aroma. If you already know this, you are ahead of the game.
When it comes to ordering a “hoppy” beer, there is a level ranging from extremely bitter to mild bitterness. This is called IBU (International Bitterness Units). Ready to order? Follow these general rules:
IPA: The king of hops in both bitter and aromatic characteristics
Pale Ales: On the fence between extra hoppy and not-so-hoppy, Pale Ales typically feature a milder hop-profile than an IPA
Wheat Beer: Minimal hop flavor and aroma
Malt Beer: Slim to none
3. Pinot over Pale Ale
Most people tend to categorize themselves as a beer or wine drinker. What if I told you you could be both? Hoppy beers aside, if you like fruity wines, then it’s easy to suggest a fruity beer. Commonly found are wheat beers infused with dark fruit flavors like cherries, raspberries, black currant, which are notes also recognized in red wine.
More of a white wine person? We still have you covered. Try a Saison, which closely resembles the delicate, acidic, balanced flavors of something similar to a Sauvignon Blanc. Still slightly fruity, wine drinkers will find familiarity in the crisp, refreshing taste.
Often considered inferior to wine, take your beer style to the next level with a Lambic. Bottled in Champagne-shaped bottles, wine lovers will take comfort in the luxurious association. A Lambic is beer for wine lovers. Not only is it fruity, but it can also range from sour to sweet with a complexity any wine connoisseur would appreciate.
4. Step aside coffee; this is a job for beer
Surprisingly, coffee is another way to gauge what type of beer a beer-ginner would enjoy. Generally, a coffee drinker will lean toward a beer brewed with coffee— a Stout is just for you. I don’t necessarily mean Guinness. Many Stouts feature lighter, sweeter, more mellow flavors than a Guinness. A Milk Stout, for example, will change your perception of what a stout can be— creamy, sweet, and bursting with notes of roasted chocolate-covered coffee beans.
Perhaps the easiest way to find a beer style is to start with one’s cocktail of choice. Mixology and brewing are of the same nature when it comes to balancing the level of sweetness, bitterness, and how it will feel on the palate.
Whiskey/Bourbon: Looking for the warmth and smoothness of a whiskey? Try sipping on a barrel-aged-beer.
Gin: Spicy and slightly bitter while still maintaining a sense of smoothness, a hoppier beer should do the trick— try a New England IPA.
Vodka: Crisp, cool, and assertive, something like a Belgian Wit might be a good match for a vodka drinker.
Sweet Cocktails: So you like the fruity, sweet drinks that mask the taste of alcohol? Ease the transition with a fruity Lambic.
All in all, don’t worry if you’re not into it. I’m not implying that with the above recommendations non-beer drinkers will convert to the dark side of beer. Rather, if someone enjoys a specific drink, they might find similar things to enjoy with a beer.