What are the 5 best beers for beginners? Who knows! We all have our hows and why’s, but I thought it would be cool to throw out my list of beers I recommend to people newer to beer than I am, and why. Do you have a list?
One thing I’ve learned about beer since starting The Brew Club is that everyone has different tastes when it comes to beer. When it comes to beer, one might say that “taste is on the tongue of the taster” as much as “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.
That being the case, what is the best beer for a beginner? I don’t mean the person who has never tried a beer before in their lifetime, but rather the person who has had the common beers like Bud, Coors, Corona or the like and is looking to venture out.
They are looking to you to steer them right. One wrong suggestion and its back to the macros! That’s a lot of pressure! Its a lot of pressure because (and I’m sure you’ve all seen this) lets say you’re in your favorite beer store (we call them liquor stores in Jersey) and you see someone looking for beer.
Seemingly stuck in an orbit around around the giant stacks of Landshark Lager or Bud Light Lime, you can tell that they aren’t a beer person. The familiar has them trapped in something like a tractor beam. Reaching out for help, they ask the stock guy about buying a different beer. Something new to try or to bring as a gift to a friend or something. “I’ve heard about these craft beers” you might overhear the person say.
Most of the time when I see this happen, the stock guy recommends a beer like ‘Imperial Bitchslap’, ’10,000 Minute IPA’, or ‘Hoppedoutofyourfuckinmind Ale’. (I made that one up.) Chances are, this person, through no fault of their own, is going to take one sip of this extreme beer recommended by the beer expert and dump it down the sink. Never again! I’ll stick to what I know thank you.
The point is, just because your palate has adjusted to extremely hopped beers, or Imperial Ales, doesn’t mean a noob will appreciate it in the least. (Hell, I haven’t even embraced those beer styles yet!) Can advanced beerness hurt more than it helps?
So, what things do you consider when giving advice to someone like this? Do you have any safe-bet beers that you suggest regardless of the person, or do you probe into their likes and dislikes about what they’ve had in the past? I’m curious to how you approach this and what beers you’ve suggested.
For me, I’ll ask if they’ve ever had anything other than Bud or Coors. Ever have a Guinness? What did you think? Ever try Bass? How was that? Schaffer? Hmmmm. This could be tough.
Here’s my list of safe-bet beers that I think are decent choices for beers for beginners. Feel free to poke holes or add to the list!
- Gunniess from the tap or the can with that widget thing. Its a good beer, not extreme in any way, and it can be found everywhere. Its a good intro to those mysterious dark beers.
- For something that is perhaps less scary looking, I think Bass Ale is a good choice as well. It too can be had from one of those funny widget cans, can be found anywhere, and makes a good intro into the world of imported exotic British Ales.
- People with death grips on American Macro beers might be persuaded to try a nice Pilsner. It looks similar, so perhaps this is the easiest leap to make, and there’s lots of good examples both foreign and domestic. Pilsner Urquell might be a good choice or perhaps something like Prima Pils from Victory.
- Another safe bet is the Belgian style ales from Blue Moon. Say what you will abut it being made by Coors, but its a good gateway beer. Blue Moon also can be found anywhere, and it gives people a chance to try something new, a little spicy and ‘oooh, its unfiltered’ without being blitzed with extreme flavors and high ABVs.
- The Guinness pick from above got me thinking of another great choice. A nice Chocolate Stout! Who doesn’t like a chocolate stout? Smooth, dark – and chocolaty! First one that pops in my head is Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. Readily available and very tasty.
So there you go. That’s generally my list of best beers for beginners. I know, I know, only one craft beer in the mix. Part of my thinking is accessibility. Craft beers can tend to be very regional and hard to get sometimes. These beers (save the Victory mention) can be found in most places, BUT substitutions can surely be made. That’s just me.
What’s your process of recommending beer, and what beers to you suggest?