From a recent post contemplating the relationship between gateway beers and the ‘epiphany beer’ I got to thinking. (Unusual, I know.)
I was trying to think of the one beer brewer, one singular label, that throughout their entire lineup, single-handedly represented the best possibility of acting as a ‘gateway beer’ and perhaps even simultaneously causing a beer epiphany for someone ready for it.
Does that brewer exist? Not only do I say YES, but in bold caps!
Now, hold on to your hats, because I’m going to let you in on a secret. I’m no beer expert. (I know, I know.) But, I have had one or two fine beers over the last few years, and I have some opinions on this matter, so hear me out. I think it makes a lot of sense.
OK, so lets say you have a pal who is a mostly macro-beer drinker, but like me has had a gateway beer experience. A Guinness, maybe a Blue Moon, something like that. They’re open to new beer suggestions, but don’t know what to do! Where to start! Ahhhhhhhh!
Some will never get past Guinness or Blue Moon. The gateway beer has become a trap of sorts. Some even revert to their old Bud Lite Lime habits, or they decompensate further by resorting to wine coolers. That’s just not right. We can help.
What would you tell them? Here’s what I would do, now that I’ve thought it through.
I’d tell them to find any beer bottle with the Samuel Smith label, and buy it!
Yes, the Sam Smith labels look like a fuddy-duddy corpse from the 1700’s was reanimated to design them, and no, there aren’t pictures of androgynous gargoyles driving a truck through the eyesocket of a flaming skull, all while eating a tarantula and fighting a biker grandmother on the label. No. Its plain. Its classy. Its likely to be missed on the shelf, but LOOK for it dammit! Its worth the effort!
If they really wanted a nice sampler of beer styles, I’d make this list and send them merrily along. Hopefully, its a place that lets you ‘build your own’ six pack, because with the list below you’re good-to-go!
- Sam Smith Organic Lager – Why not? Perhaps not the pinnacle of the style, but good enough to show what a good lager can be.
- Sammy Smith’s Famous Taddy Porter. 5% ABV. If ‘The Beer Hunter’ Michael Jackson could call it one of the five best beers in the world, its good enough for you pal.
- You want a stout? Sam Smith’s Oatmeal Stout is to die for!
- Pale Ale? They’ve got you covered with the Old Brewery Pale Ale.
- An IPA that won’t hop-shock the new guy? Sam Smith India Ale.
- A brown ale better than Newcastle? (Like that’s hard to find anyway.) Sam Smith Nut Brown Ale.
I think most beer nerds would agree that Samuel Smith makes some fine beer, and most would agree that the list above would make a decent starter list for someone looking to grow and try excellent examples of different beer styles.
While excellent indeed, none of the beers are extreme. None of them will blow your mind with spices and hops and bitterness, but they will impress for how good they are in an almost elemental way. Certainly that’s true for the Stout, Porter and India Pale Ale. Heck, even their Imperial Stout is an excellent, excellent example of the style, I just didn’t include it in the list for the new guy because, well, he’s new.
So there you go. More than any other brand in the universe, without a doubt, Samuel Smith beers should be the gateway beer brand of choice, and as a result could be possibly responsible for more beer epiphany experiences than anyone else!
What think you? Is there a better brand than Sam Smith to spread good beer to the washed, unwashed, and partially-washed masses?