***IMPORTANT: no matter what you're drinking, please drink safely
and be aware of how alcohol may affect you
, especially if you are young or new to drinking.***
I've seen a couple of people now extolling the *cough*virtues*cough* of Budweiser, Coors Light (!?!?) and the like.
I can't overstate how distressing it is for me to read those words.
When people say American beer tastes like piss, those are the beers they're referring to. And they are absolutely right. You are not doing yourself any favors by drinking that nasty swill.
But I understand. Maybe you don't know any better. Maybe no one bothered to introduce you to real beer. So I'm going to do it for you now.
Before you can jump into the deep end with a strong craft beer (what probably tastes "gross" to you now), you need to learn to swim. Take your time to adjust your beer palate, and soon you will be enjoying the rich, flavorful world of Good Beer.
The Craft Beer Beginning Drinker's GuideIBU - International Bittering Unit. A rating to indicate how bitter the beer is. 20 to 30 is pretty low and easy to tolerate, while IPAs can get up to 80, 90 and even higher.STEP 1: Pilsner
In my opinion, pilsners are the most similar to the cheap beers you're used to in both flavor and body. Start with a mild, low IBU pils, maybe described as "easy drinking." Try a few and pay attention to the differences and similarities. You'll start to get a feel for which beer characteristics you like. Once you're as comfortable drinking a pils as you are a bud, move on to the next step.STEP 2: Hefeweisen
A hef will give you a similar experience as a pils, but you'll be getting more flavor. Hefs are unfiltered so they look cloudy, and they really give your mouth something to savor. There are a wider variety of flavors in hefs than in pilsners, so try several.STEP 3: Wheat, Wit, Oat
You can try these at the same time you're trying hefs. You'll get a little more intensity, but still lower IBUs and even some sweetness at times. You'll also be getting even more variety of flavors. Feel free to hang out at steps 2 and 3 as long as you like, because next we'll be upping our game.STEP 4: Pale Ale
Here's where you start really getting into the diverse and delicious world of craft beer. Pales can have a wide range of IBUs, flavors, and everything else. There are a great many to try. Draw on your experiences with beers you've tried so far to find some pales you think you'll like. Stick to lower IBUs at first, but be adventurous too. You might be surprised at how well you can enjoy a pale with an IBU in, say, the 60s. Keep in mind, both bitterness and flavor come from hops, so they often go together very well. Note: While technically pales, IPAs (India Pale Ale) are a different category. We'll get to them later.STEP 5: Amber
An amber is the best of both light and dark beers. You'll notice a heavier mouth feel and very intense flavors. If you love the experience of an amber, you may want to delve into darker beers.STEP 6: Brown
Browns are the next darker step after ambers. Take your time here as you get used to darker beers. If possible, ask for a taste before ordering a pint. Browns can surprise you. If you feel like you're getting in the groove, move on to the dark stuff.STEP 7: Porter, Stout
These are the dark beers. Heavy, often a meal in themselves, and full of rich flavor. Dive in and explore the varieties, or save them for special occasions.STEP 8: IPA
This is what you've been training for. High IBUs, complex hops, and a vast variety to choose from, IPAs are for the ultimate beer lovers. By now your palate should be able to tolerate more bitterness and pick out subtle hops, which means you can enjoy the intense and nuanced flavors of IPAs.
By now you've hopefully tasted many types of beer and even found a few favorites. Your days of suffering with bud and coors are long gone. There are many, many more varieties of beer than what I've gone over in this guide, but you should have a solid foundation from which to explore, if you haven't started already. Next steps beyond this to really enjoy the world and culture of craft beer:
- Attend a brew fest! Lots of microbreweries and even home brewers gathered together with all their best stuff for you to sample.
- Take a brewery tour! See the process of brewing and learn from the masters.
- Try home brewing! There is nothing as fucking delicious
as a fresh home brew straight from your kitchen.
I don't think you need to do all these steps before an IPA.
I've pretty much just drank lagers and cider up till last weekend where I took a sip of my friends' IPA at a bar.
I liked the taste even though it was bitter despite not having gone through any of those intermediary beers between lagers and IPA.