| From Wine To Beer
by Leo Carill
If you're a beer lover, it's likely that you want to share that with your friends be it at a pub or at
a get together featuring your favorite craft gems . But what if your friends aren't big beer
drinkers? Here are some suggestions to bring them to the right side.
If your friends enjoy wine or cider it might not be as hard as you think to get them away from
the dark side. Although you don't want to strip their taste buds with something bracingly sour,
both cider and wine are substantially more acidic than beer, so tartness is a familiar flavor.
Flanders red ales, while acidic, are typically balanced by some sweetness, and also present
fruity notes of cherries, plums, and prunes. For those wine folks, it doesn't hurt that these
beers typically showcase tannin and oak flavors as a result of extended barrel aging. Check
out Rodenbach Grand Cru, New Belgium La Folie, or Jolly Pumpkin La Roja.
Many wine drinkers who don't like beer will love Belgian tripels or golden strong ale styles.
They generally have a dry finish reminiscent of white wine or Champagne, but with light fruit—
think pears and meyer lemon—and honey flavors. Good examples are Duvel, Chimay White,
and Tripel Karmeliet. People who generally drink cider would probably like a Belgian Wit style
that offers the same refreshing qualities of cider and a soft fruity flavor and bite from the heat.
Try Allagash White or Ommegang Witte.
You'll find that many wine lovers will like tart dry sour beers like Ritterguts Gose, Russian River
Beatification, or Cantillon Gueuze. There are a lot in those beers that they will recognize,
including fruit focused flavors, high acidity, and an ultra dry body. Many a wine drinker who
thought beer was beneath them has been turned into a beer fan with their first taste of sour
If they really like red wines give them a Trappist Dubbel or Quad. These big complex beers will
have some of the qualities the red wine drinker will recognize like dark fruitiness, full body, and
a dry finish. Try Westmalle Dubbel, Chimay Grand Reserve and Rochefort 10. For white wine
drinkers get a true Köln (Cologne) brewed Kolsch. These cold brewed German ales are very
clean flavored with slight fruitiness and are often described as 'winey.' The excellent Reissdorf
Kolsch always does the trick for all Pinot Grigio fans.
For cider drinkers, it all depends when they're into. If they like a straight ahead cider, like
Strongbow, they'll usually like an apple beer; if they like farmhouse ciders with a bit of funk and
complexity, farmhouse ales like biere de garde or saison are great. I find a lot of people who
think they don't like beer haven't tried very many and don't know the variety is out there. One
of the biggest excuses I hear is that 'beer is too bitter'. If that's their concern, I like to let them
try something Belgian, like a witbier, or even a dark Trappist like Rochefort 8. The lower level
of bitterness and the complexity are usually a big surprise for them.
Of course a person doesn't have to be a wine or cider person to be a good candidate to
convert to beer. Maybe they love black coffee—then you might try a nice dry stout. Or maybe
they like sweeter beverages—try a nice malty doppelbock. For people who generally like a
fruity cider, a well rounded, slightly fruity beer like a Bell's Oberon will work.. It's extremely
drinkable and has a pleasant citrusy sweetness.
With so many extreme beers in the craft beer market, many with names like 'palate wrecker'
and 'hopsecutioner' it's no surprise that some non-craft drinkers are a little intimidated. In these
scenarios,For them you might try a German-style pilsners and Helles lagers. The all-malt
versions of these beers are a world apart from their corn and rice laden macro lager cousins,
but since they are still refreshing, crisp and bright, they still remain approachable.
In general most German or Belgian wheat beers are good choices.. The fun mix of flavors
aren't very 'beery' and provide a lot of yeast and/or spice driven flavors that can be very
appealing to the novice beer drinker. Some other styles that may be good for the timid include:
Kolsch, helles lager, Belgian blondes, or brown ales. All of these options have some nice flavor
but aren't too extreme and would potentially provide a newer beer drinker that 'ah ha!' moment
If you have only one chance to make an impression on someone who doesn't like beer your
best bet is a farmhouse beer. A lively, dry, and peppery saison can really open peoples eyes
to the variety of flavors that are available in beer.
So there you have it - a way to become an apostle of craft beer. Now go and convert!
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