Different 6-pack each week, recommendations?
I'm tired of drinking Coors and Natty Ice and I feel like I want to try and sample new beers (perhaps microbrews?). A Trader Joe's just opened up right next to where I live and I think my budget can now handle some better brews. I've decided that for a New Year's resolution, I will drink a different 6 pack each week. I've given up on the traditional resolutions and decided I will have some fun this year. I have no beer knowledge whatsoever besides my likes and dislike of common brands.
Likes: PBR, Blue Moon
Indifferent: Coors, Bud, Miller
So Hounds, what do you guys recommend for a good introduction to the expanded world of beer? Maybe a winter lager to kick off the new year?
Budget: Any 6-pack under $10
Welcome to the world of better beer. Every journey begins with a first step. Where you are in the country will to some degree determine what beer will be available to you. The good thing is that these days you can find better beer almost everywhere.
I believe Trader Joe's carries North Coast Scrimshaw, which is a respectable pilsner, for around $8 a sixer. It's a definite step up from PBR, which clever marketing has somehow elevated to the level of retro chic. You can also easily find better examples of the Blue Moon wit beer style, though I'm not sure TJs carries a good wit. Hoegaarden has become more widely available in the US, and is a good step up from Blue Moon. Depending on where you are, you might be able to get your hands on Allagash white, which is very very good but might run about $10 for a 4 pack. As your mood strikes you andas your palate grows, you can move onto more assertive pilsners (or not). You can also begin exploring American Pale Ales, with Sierra Nevada, which you can find at TJs and almost everywhere. If you like the hops in SN Pale Ale, you might want to move onto American IPAs, and there's lots of them around. SN's Celebration is a very good IPA. That should get you started for a few weeks anyways.
Check out online beer sites like beeradvocate.com as you gradually expand your taste buds but be aware that beeradvocate mostly favors rather extreme beers.
you have a lot options in the bay area to taste beer at its freshest out of the taps. many of them are bart accessible. Also, some beers are available on taps and not on bottles, like Moonlight Brewing. I'd recommend you try in particular Death and Taxes, which is a dark lager and reality czech, which is a czech style pilsner. One or the other is available in a lot of good pubs at the moment. check out beerbybart.com for bart-accessible pubs.
I'd suggest not relying too heavily on Trader Joe's, honestly. Their selection isn't typically that great, and is very heavy on run-of-the-mill imports that aren't well-known here. Given your budget, you shouldn't have a problem finding stuff at BevMo, Whole Foods, or Total Wine and Spirits (I believe they have a Bay Area location).
I'd suggest the following as good starting points:
Avery Brewing, Colorado - Out of Bounds Stout, New World Porter, Karma, White Rascal
Anchor Brewing, San Francisco - Steam, Summer, Bock, Porter, Christmas
Russian River Brewing, Santa Rosa - Not in sixers, but pint bottles: Pliny the Elder, Blind Pig IPA
Rogue Brewing, Oregon - Mocha Porter, Dead Guy Ale, Brutal Bitter, St. Rogue Red
Anderson Valley Brewing, Boonville CA - Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout, Hop Ottin IPA, Winter Solstice
Stone Brewing, Escondido CA - Levitation, IPA
Oskar Blues, Colorado - Dale's Pale Ale, Old Chub
Newcastle Brown Ale (cans only)
Celebrator Doppelbock (4-pack bottles)
Samuel Smiths, Britain - Winter Warmer, Pale Ale, Nut Brown Ale are all avail. in 4-pack bottles
Asahi, Japan - Black (6-pack bottles, and don't bother with the regular Asahi, it's like Budweiser)
Full Sail Brewing, Oregon - Session Lager (around $12 for a 12-pack of bottles)
Good luck on your journey!
very good call on the Samuel Smiths winter warmer, I was inspired to crack one open and I'm quite enjoying it. And that is a beer you can get at Trader Joe.
I agree with Josh, TJ is not a good store for beer. BevMo is OK. Whole Foods downtown SF has a good selection, and if you're in that neighborhood, go over to city beer on 7th and folsom. Healthy Spirits is good if you're in the Castro.
I'd also add Poleeko Gold from Anderson Valley to Josh's list.
If you aren't ready to dive right into screaming hops or heavy heavy beers, there are a lot of "training wheels" beers out there.
One that comes to mind is Spaten Oktoberfest. We have it in ATL year round and it's a screaming bargain at $12/12-pack. There's a variety of micro ambers that are also good, with New Belgium Fat Tire jumping to mind. Following on that malty path, the various brown ale suggestions I see are good, too.
A good basic pale ale like Sierra Nevada is good, too. And you'd be surprised how hoppy a well-made pilsner can be. Victory's Prima Pils comes to mind, but Pilsner Urquell (cans only) may be more widely available.
Anyway, it's funny to see your list. To me, tasting the difference between any of those beers is like arguing over angels dancing on the head of a pin. They're all so similar and occupy a tiny corner of the beer universe. Enjoy trying some different stuff.
I'd disagree with that approach if the goal is to broaden one's beer palate. I'd suggest going to a good beer bar like the toronado or zeitgeist in SF or Barclays in Oakland, where you could try a wide array of beer in different styles from different producers. For example, last time I was at Toronado, they had Blind Pig, Pliny, Consecration, Damnation and Publication from Russian River, and Death and Taxes and Reality Czech from Moonlight Brewing, which would both be good sort of breakin beers for the poster (plus Moonlight is too small to bottle).
That way you can also slip in a belgian like Chimay or Achouffe, or a Belgian style, like Allagash White.
I would definitely opt to pay a visit to Russian River. I'm not sure if you've been to their pub, but the range of beer they make (and make really well) is pretty broad. I think you'd be hard pressed to find better versions of nearly any style they make.
21st Amendment is another place in SF that I think is well worth visiting, as is Rogue's pub in North Beach.