Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Beer >
Sep 10, 2006 08:42 PM

Help thy beginner

I am a beginner at beers. I like things that are Ultra smooth and not bitter. Looking for sweeter things that you can just sip. I have like quadrapels (St. Bernardus). Anything else you might suggest? What styles? So confused....

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Scottish ales tend to be somewhat sweet. Many are strong, with Belhaven Scottish Ale a notable (and delicious) exception at 4.2% or thereabouts.

    German doppelbocks, generally 7%+ and full of malty sweetness. You can typically identify them by names ending in -ator: Paulaner Salvator, Spaten Optimator, ...

    Trappist ales such as Rochefort, Westmalle, Chimay

    This time of year you'll find lots of Oktoberfest beers, usually amber (but some blonde) with a toasty malt flavor and just enough hops to balance the sweetness. Alcohol is just a hair on the high side.

    1. Glad you asked.

      Beer is far more confusing than wine and there is far less emphasis placed on education at the point of sale.

      If you like St. Bernardus, there are a lot of Belgian styles that you will enjoy. Seek out Belgian Strong Dark Ales and Dubbels. I think you probably will also enjoy German doppelbocks. A Scottish style known as Wee Heavy will also be up your alley. You might also want to try a few English dark beer styles, such as porters and stouts.

      Although this is a vast oversimplification, you can generally divide beer styles between malty styles (which are sweeter) and hoppy styles (which are more bitter).

      When I first started to enjoy craft beer, I came from the same place you are now and really enjoyed the styles I mentioned above. Over time, I became much more enthusiastic about the bitter styles and now Double IPAs are my favorite style.

      Beer Advocate is a wonderful resource where you can get definitions of each of the styles, recommended food pairings and lots of information about individual beers that are available.


      1. If you're in California, you should seek out Lost Coast Brewing's Downtown Brown. It's a malty nut-brown ale with a good level of sweetness. It also sounds like you'd enjoy both the Lindemans and Mort Subite lines of lambic beer. Cherry, raspberry, and peach are all sweet and fruity.

        1. Also, Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout from England is a pleasantly sweet beer, as is Hitachino Nest's Sweet Lacto Stout.