How To: Fall in Love with Beer
- How does one train their pallet?
- How can you “acquire” a taste for beer?
By drinking beer of course, but there’s more to it than that. Every beer lover knows someone who hates beer, and it might be hard to understand why, but it’s simply inexperience. This step-by-step guide will help you convert people into devoted beer drinkers.
Before you Start
Before we get started, there are three things that you will be need:
- A beer hater (with an open mind)
- Time (measured in nights of drinking)
- Plenty of Beer (or a good Beer Bar)
A quick reference is provided, showing the types of beers that lead to beer enlightenment.
Where to start depends on the person you trying to convert. If you’re dealing with a Smirnof Ice drinking, beer hater go to the next step; “Getting over Malternatives”. If you are dealing with a Bud Light drinking, dark beer hater skip the next step and go to “Live a Little, skip the light beer”.
Getting over Malternatives
The jump from Malternatives to beer is really just a little hop, since beer is more diverse than most realize. The closest beer to a malternative is a Lambic (Drinking Beer: What’s a Lambic). Start by ordering a Lambic. This will undoubtedly spawn statements like, “This is Beer!?!” So maybe describe the unique process of brewing Lambic, if they’re interested. Move on to a Cider. Ciders taste like they are right in the middle of Beer and juice. It makes sense since it’s made from fermented apple juice.
If they still aren’t convinced you can stay on this step for a while. There are plenty of Fruit Beers out there, how about a Stiegl Radler. Another option is to have a Hefeweizen with a generously sized orange wedge squeezed in. The idea is to start to get used to the taste of beer while keeping a sweet fruity flavor.
You’re ready to skip the light beer and go straight to “Discovering Ales”.
Live a Little, Skip the Light Beer
Most light beers are really just a super pale lager. So a good start would be an actual Pale Lager. Maybe something they have had before like a (shudder) Budweiser, or a Corona. Next grab a pale lager with a little more flavor and complexity, like a Peroni. If they drink light beer this won’t be a big step, but it is a little more hoppy. Now you can introduce the Lager, maybe a Red Stripe. Try to avoid European Lagers like Grolsch and Heineken, as these tend to be a little more bitter.
The idea here is for the light beer drinker to realize that light beer is just like real beer, only without the flavor. There are other beers that are just as easy to drink and can be just as refreshing, but also taste delicious.
Discover the Ale
It’s time to move onto Ales. White Ales are nice, light and easy to drink. Start with a Hoegaarden White or a Samuel Adams White Ale. This is a good transition beer; it’s light enough for the light beer drinker but with lots of flavor, and the malternative drinker can add a lemon wedge if they like.
If you’ve gotten to this point and the person you’re trying to convert hasn’t walked out on you, then you’re doing really well. You now have the convertee drinking real beer, congratulate them and let them know that this is just the tip of the iceberg.
The Dark Side of Beer
There are a few paths you can take to get your former beer hater drinking dark beer. The malternative drinker will probably have an easier time with the “Wheat-elicious” path. The light beer drinker should be able to handle the “Hop-tastic” path.
Start with a light Hefeweizen, like a Tucher Helles Hefeweizen or a Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier. You should stay on the Hefeweizens for a bit. There are plenty on the market and any descent beer bar should have a few.
Once you get them to the point that they enjoy the Hefeweizens, the next logical step is the Dunkelweizen. Dunkels are just like Hefeweizens in a lot of ways, they just use dark malts which gives the beer an earthy or toasty flavor. Try a Julius Echter Hefe-Weissbier Dunkel or an Ayinger Ur-Weisse. Again, there are plenty of Dunkelweizens on the market, so feel free to linger on them, they are delicious.
Next would have to be a Weizen Bock. These are still wheat beers, but have more malt than hefeweizens or dunkels, they also generally have more alcohol. Try a Schneider Aventinus.
Ok, if they like Aventinus, you’re done. You now have your beer hating friend drinking a Strong Dark beer. Don’t stop there; try a Doppelbock like Ayinger Celebrator or Spaten Optimator.
Start with an American Dark Lager. Something they have had before, like Amber Bock. This is a dark beer with a slight roasted flavor, but contains very little hops and malt, so it’s still very easy to drink.
We should be ready for a mild India Pale Ale (IPA). Try a Sierra Nevada IPA. Then move onto a Flying Dog IPA, if this is too sweet, grab another IPA. Stay on IPAs for a bit, it’s very important to become accustomed to the hoppy flavor that defines the IPA.
Time to take the plunge to real dark beers. Start with a Brown Ale. Samuel Smiths Nut Brown Ale is a good one. It may seem a little sweet after drinking IPAs, but this is good. Make a comment on the lack of hops compared to the IPAs.
A natural progression from IPAs and Browns is to the Porter. The porter is heavy on the malt and generally pretty heavy on the hops as well. Try an Anchor Porter. Comment on the roasted flavor, as compared to the Amber Bock. Note the hoppy flavor compared to that of the IPAs.
If they liked the porter, you’re doing great! You beer hating friend just drank a Strong Dark beer. Put aStout in front of them and see what they say.
Wrap it Up
At this point, nothing should be off limits for the former beer hater. If they tried a barley wine, they might not love it, but they should be able to respect the complexity of its flavors. Now that they have been exposed to a broad spectrum of beer they should know what the hops and the malts can bring to a beer. Just experiencing these flavors gives them the needed respect to enjoy any beer.
Even if they don’t fall in love with barley wine, they should have fallen in love with beer.