The Dead Liver Society #7 – Getting Into Craft Beer
Hey all. DAVE here once again with another edition of The Dead Liver Society. After reading my main man JAY’s column about how to get the ladies into good beer, I felt compelled to write a column about how the average beer drinker (other than our women folk) can approach craft beer along with some selections for them to try. Nothing in the following column is hard to find. We aren’t talking about anything to risky in terms of flavor or price.
What is craft beer and why should you give a crap and try it?
Craft beer is many things to many different people. In general, “craft beer” means better beer made with better ingredients.
Call me a “beer snob’ or whatever but I think the idea of drinking something better than what came before it is always a smart idea. I think the idea of “making it better than we did” is what really drives the craft beer industry and it’s fans.
So, here we are and maybe you like Bud or Coors but you want to branch out. Maybe you’ve been drinking your Becks and your Molson and you just know that there has got to be more out there. I bet you are wondering where to start right?
Below I offer a brief introduction to a few of the more accessible varieties of craft beer and recommend a few specific brands that you may want to try as you explore the world of craft beer:
The vast majority of craft beer brewed in the United States is in the form of an ale. There are many, many, many different styles within the ale category such as pale ales (we will talk about IPAs later) and hefeweizens. The most popular “craft beer” made in the USA comes in the form of Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale. There is a reason it is so popular..
..and that’s because it is freaking delicious! This is the perfect beer to pop your craft-beer cherry. It also comes in cans now which makes it easier to drink in large quantities (if you must and yeah you probably should).
This ale has a great nose with a light citrus aroma and taste. It’s a very approachable beer..you don’t have to know what “good craft beer” tastes like to appreciate this one. It’s also very refreshing and low in alcohol.
This type of beer also takes to citrus very well because it is moderately hopped and hops are citrusy! So don’t be afraid to throw a piece of lemon in your beer. Screw the purists, drink what you like.
If you currently drink the type of beer that is Coors, Bud or Miller, you are already familiar with the lager category. Within the lager category, we have varieties like the pale lager aka the Pilsner (what Bud actually is), the Bock and the Vienna Lager.
There is a really great craft lager out there and it’s all over the place and that is Sam Adam’s Boston Lager..
This is the beer that started my obsession with craft beer and it’s done the same for thousands of other like-minded folks. It’s a great beer (really it is dont listen to the snobs) with great mouth feel and drinkability. It’s is the prototypical Vienna lager is terms of taste, color and aroma. It is an American classic and truly one of the most drinkable, straight-forward beers I’ve ever had. It’s a beer’s beer.
Just another piece of advice..
Sam Adams makes great entry-point craft beer. It’s sometimes isn’t the greatest but it’s almost always good and it will give you an idea of what styles you like and what styles you don’t. If you are just starting to get into craft beer, buy a few different six-packs from Sam Adams. You will soon know what you like and what you don’t. Also, if you see a Sam Adams sampler pack, give that a shot. It’s another way for you to test your palate’s likes and dislikes.
There are some really accessible stouts and porters on the market today. If you are into “black and tans” you are already half way home in terms of liking stouts and porters because that’s where the “black” in a “black and tan” comes from!
There are distinct differences between stouts and porters that will talk about in a later column but for now, just think of stouts and porters as dark beers with rich, roasted flavor and maltiness. They can be both low or high in alcohol depending on the brewing style and brewers are known to introduce various types of finery into stouts and porter using flavoring agents such as coffee and chocolate. And speaking of chocolate, here is a readily available stout that is flavored with intense chocolate..
…yum! Young’s Double Chocolate Stout is a wonderful entry point into the world of dark beers. It’s rich and complex but not overbearing for the first time drinker. The use of chocolate is a great way to introduce the drinker to something strong like a stout while giving them a way to ease themselves into the world of craft beer. It’s a great beer..and you can mix it with Well’s Banana Bread beer to get something truly tasty!
India Pale Ales
While India Pale Ales are technically part of the Ale family, I have given them their own distinct section here. Why? Well, IPAs are where the big boys play. It’s not an easy flavor to just jump right into. A beer lover may love drinking all sorts of pale ales but may find the IPA to be over the top in terms of hop aroma and flavor. With that being said, there are some good, accessible “in-the-middle” IPAs out there for the beginner. This is one of them..
Sam Adam’s Whitewater IPA is a mix of a white ale and an American IPA. This beer is hoppy..very hoppy actually but the blending of the white ale into the picture gives a first time drinker (someone who maybe loves Blue Moon) a crisp, smooth, yet hop-friendly beer that won’t blow out their palate. It really is quite the gateway IPA and you can find it all over the country. If you like this beer, you’ve got a good chance at becoming a hophead like your author.
So, give these beers a shot. Sure, they are a bit higher in cost than your Coors, etc but you are getting a vastly more interesting experience for your dollar. Once you get into craft beer, you really can’t go back as their are hundreds of other styles to try and love.
Until next time, drink some good beer and enjoy the variety of great beer out there!
Don’t be an asshole. Don’t drink and drive!
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