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If I like these beers, which others should I try?

I'm a gin-drinker trying to expand my tastebuds to include beer. Surprisingly, I found a few I liked, and I'd like to find a few more.

I enjoyed Sam Adams' Summer Ale, Rogue Dead Guy Ale, and Newcastle brown ale (on tap).

I did not like any of the IPAs that I tried, or Sierra Nevada pale ale, either. I found their aftertaste to be too bitter, and their flavor not crisp and fresh enough.

Any suggestions?

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  1. It sounds like the hops might be the negative for you if you don't like IPA's, so a malty ale that is pretty well priced that I really like, is, this is almost embarrassing for my beer cred, but i like Budweiser Ale. Its been out a while and a few of my friends are of the same mind as me, it is a surprisingly decent malty ale. A little sweet, not so bitter, it does a good job at a good price. Sierra Nevada is still my fave for less than $8 a six pack, but Bud Ale is right up there.

    1. I like Founder's Dirty Bastard and Stoudts Scarlet Lady...both are pretty low on the hops flavor

      2 Replies
      1. re: DapperDave

        I agree about Scarlet Lady. Also, I seem to recall the Brooklyn Brown Ale was a tasty one. Since you liked the Newcastle, you might try that, as well. . . .

        1. re: MGZ

          I suggest you keep trying different styles rather than try to find beers that are similar to the ones you already like. There is a lot of variation out there that you haven't tried yet (assuming you've given us the totality of your experiences).

        1. you're probably going to want to avoid hoppy beers at least for a while. A good indication is IBU, or international bitterness units. The higher the IBU, the more bitter the beer will be. That would rule out most american pale ales and certainly ipas and double ipas. But don't give up on ales altogether. English ales are less hoppy than American. One of my favorites that's readily available in many places is Old Speckled Hen, which is a pale ale but nowhere near as hoppy as an American version. Samuel Smith also makes some good beers that aren't very hoppy. You could also go in the direction of porters and stouts, which generally accentuate malt more than hops. Or some German lagers, many of which can be delicious and complex and not overly hoppy. And then there's the world of Belgian ales, which are generally not very hoppy. Try Chimay Reserve. you can drink a lot of great beer without a lot of hop bitterness. Check out beeradvocate.com for some style descriptions along with some beermakers who produce good examples of not very hoppy beer.

          1. I am going to suggest from my husband's tastes...he can't stand much bitterness at all. New England Brewing Co. has their Elm City lager; Smuttynose Old Brown Dog; Belgian White (I brewed my own, so I can't suggest a brewery for that style.); Hefeweizen (again from Smuttynose, but is otherwise widely available locally); Bass. I've also had some Italian craft beer from Birra Balladin that was pretty intriguing....I would guess you might find one that has some herb and spice notes that you might enjoy. Oh, and Magic Hat Wacko (summer seasonal.).

            1. Which part of the country do you live in? That will help in terms of recommending regional craft beers.

              Based on what you listed above, though, I'd try the following styles. I also listed some good examples of the style.

              Belgian-style witbier: Unibroue Blanche de Chambly, Avery White Rascal, Allagash White
              American wheat beers: Sierra Nevada Wheat, Anchor Summer Wheat, Rogue Mom Hefeweizen
              Lagers (all styles): Full Sail Session Lager/Session Black, Kostritzer Schwarzbier, Paulaner Marzen, Schonramer Pils

              Old Ale/Barleywine: Victory Old Horizontal, JW Lees Harvest Ale
              Belgian-style dubbel: Anderson Valley Brother David's Double
              Oatmeal Stout: Anderson Valley Barney Flats, Samuel Smith's

                1. re: CTeater

                  Try Old Chub wee heavy by Oskar blues

                2. If you are looking for crisp tasting beers with a fresh taste (and by the way, I would not put any of the three that you named in that category), you will want to look to European Pils styles (Pilsner Urquell) as well as so-called Continental Lagers, such as Flying Horse, Taj Mahal and Kingfisher from India or Singha, Tiger or Beer Lao from SE Asia. These are beers that are meant to be highly drinkable (low on the bitter taste) but also flavorful and satisfying.

                  Most independant American brewers have adapted their beers to fit a hoppier profile. Frankly, I think it's lazy and shows a certain lack of finesse. For that reason, I suggest that you look more towards European beers and beer styles. I prefer a lighter hop character in my beers in an effort to move more towards a balanced brew that I can drink all night but that is still flavorful. Some favorites include;

                  Anything by Samuel Smith (esp. Nut Brown and Imperial Stout)
                  Anything by JW Lees (esp. Manchester Star)
                  Duvel (very dry, very clean finish)
                  Old Speckled Hen
                  Anything by Unibroue (esp. Fin du Monde and Don de Dieu)

                  Go to a well-run beer store and ask about Belgian, British or other European brews. Belgian beers can be a better bet in a store with low turnover because they tend to be stronger and thus can sit on the shelf longer than an ordinary lager that degrades over time.

                  Happy hunting.

                  17 Replies
                  1. re: Ernie Diamond

                    "Most independant American brewers have adapted their beers to fit a hoppier profile."

                    Except, of course, Russian River, Avery, Jolly Pumpkin, Ithaca, Allagash, AleSmith, Triple Rock, Real Ale Brewing, Great Divide, Brooklyn, New Glarus, Bell's, St. Somewhere, Elysian, Grand Teton, Anchor, Kona, and probably a dozen others I'm forgetting.

                    1. re: Josh

                      Sorry, but if you hold many of the beers that you named against comparable European styles, you will find a stronger hop profile in the American ones than in the European.

                      Not a bad thing, just not my thing.

                      1. re: Ernie Diamond

                        Your comment leads me to suspect that you haven't sampled many beers from the breweries I listed.

                        1. re: Josh

                          Ernie, you need to try some Belgian style ales from Russian River, Ommegang and Allagash

                      2. re: Josh

                        His point stands though. There's a reason why there are a lot of "American X" styles where "X" is a traditional style, and the american x style always has a higher IBU range than the traditional x.

                        I'd also say that I personally find at least a handful of the breweries you mention to be hoppy-for-style, when doing traditional styles (not necessarily overwhelmingly so, but noticeably so).

                          1. re: Josh

                            Most offerings from Brooklyn, RR, Anchor, Avery and Bells. Again, not saying they're ridiculously hopped, just more than I think they should be, which IMO is the case with most US breweries (and with very few exceptions, the ones I didn't list from your bunch were ones I don't have much experience with - I don't find this issue w/ Allagash BTW).

                            1. re: jgg13

                              Interesting discussion.

                              I would argue that the idea of the beers noted being "hopped more than they should be" is a bit off...they are what they are and they are what the brewers intended. It's just a matter of whether you like them or not, and fortunately there are currently plenty other choices both domestic and foreign that would fit your own personal guidelines.

                              Beer "styles" are open to free interpretation by brewers, and it's always been that way.
                              There may be a certain, broad profile that many styles settled into over the centuries but they still evolve and change from brewer to brewer...there is no rulebook dictating such things (except for amateur competition judging, but of course those rules have no meaning whatsoever in the commercial world, nor should they).
                              Tastes--and as a result, 'styles' --change; a perfect example is English "Mild" ale...these days it's generally assumed to be a low octane, modestly hopped brew while originally, Mild was all over the map with regard to it's strength and bitterness. There's research and good reason to believe that originally, most of them were rather strong, and often quite well hopped.

                              While highly hopped beer itself is nothing new in the USA (as I've stated frequently, my favorite beer 40- 45 years ago was more than 60 IBUs) it is now a trend that has certainly taken off, probably at least partly as a backlash against years of predominately bland American beers (you know...the type that most beer drinkers prefer. LOL).

                              1. re: The Professor

                                Sorry, "should be" wasn't meant to imply that it's a crime against nature - it's not even meant as a value judgement here even though it certainly sounds like it - my fault. I was just trying to give some support to ernie diamond's original thesis that if one takes two beers of a particular style and one is from europe and the other from the US, that the latter would be more likely to have a more pronounced hop character to it.

                                On your last point, I *am* against the current uberhopping trend (and am becoming increasingly against the everything-extreme trend in general) but figure it'll pass with time. If nothing else, the extreme beer trend has led me to appreciate classically sessionable styles much more than I used to.

                                My understanding on 'mild' is that it simply meant that it was not sour/aged. Some of the changes may involve how words themselves change over time (e.g. the meaning of 'awful', and how that used to be a good thing).

                              2. re: jgg13

                                I can only conclude your RR experience is limited to their Blind Pig or Pliny the Elder offerings. Their Belgian beers have no greater hop character than the beers of Belgium do. Anchor is also quite puzzling to me, apart from Liberty Ale and Old Foghorn, I don't think of their beers as having significant hop character either.

                                Maybe you're just really sensitive to hops?

                                1. re: Josh

                                  Or perhaps you're just really insensitive to hops? :)

                                  The answer to your latter question is somewhat yes. Heavy flavor additions tend to give me hop burps pretty quickly. Light/medium flavor additions and/or up-to-normal-heavy levels of bittering hops will take a few pints.

                                2. re: jgg13

                                  I wonder (aloud) how much of the hop effect in American Beers is exacerbated by higher levels of alcohol in American Beers.

                                  Since first chiming in on this topic, I traveled to England where I was reminded of the comparatively low ABV in their beers. An example; the pub where I was doing a good portion of my drinking, the Catherine Wheel in Henley on Thames is a "Free House," meaning that they feature guest brewers (as compared to a "Tied Pub" which generally only carries beers from one brewery). The Catherine Wheel had a schedule of over fifty guest (Real) ales due over the course of the year. Not a single offering had an ABV over 6%.

                                  I suspect that since alcohol serves as a soluble medium for flavors, more of the bittering qualities of hops come through in brews of a higher alcohol content.

                                  1. re: Ernie Diamond

                                    I don't know I think that IBUs are IBUs. As a matter of fact keeping IBU content equal a higher abv beer, due to it's higher malt structure, would balance out hops more than a lower abv beer would with lower malt structure. The lower abv beer's lower malt would allow more of bitterness to come through.

                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                      I understand the point you are making, I just don't know enough about IBU's or the solubility of malt to say whether I agree.

                                      I was struck while in England by the fact that while many of the beers I had were about as bitter upfront as American, they had a cleaner finish. Perhaps that is what inspired the comment.

                                      In any case, it was a real pleasure drinking in a country where one may enjoy four or five full pints in the course of an evening and still feel clearheaded.

                                      PS - Please let's not let that last statement invite a slew of, "I drink a case of Dogfish 90 Minute every night" comments. You get my point.

                                      1. re: Ernie Diamond

                                        Different hop varieties have different flavors, too. It's not just IBUs.

                                        1. re: Ernie Diamond

                                          English session beers are a different animal than American ales, which tend to push the limits instead of aspiring toward balance. I like them both at different times, but English beers are very tasty in their own right.

                            2. re: Ernie Diamond

                              I cut my imported beer teeth on Sam Smith Nut Brown and the Imperial Stout. Loved them. At $2.50 a 12 oz. bottle I chose to indulge in limited amounts but it was usually the culinary high point of my week when I poured one of those beauties into a chilled glass. (I was a college student, do you expect me to be dining in fine restaurants?)
                              In '94 I finally got over to the UK and went in search of the ales I loved so, CAMRA guide book in hand. Imagine my surprise when my first 3 Sam Smith themed pubs were in the toughest neighborhoods in London and Hull. Laughed my butt off, what I considered to be a stellar ale was a working mans brew! And I still love them both!

                            3. I vote to expand your gin tastebuds....I'm waiting for some Plymouth Navy Strength in August from my daughters friend coming from the UK. Any great ones you suggest?

                              1. my new favorite bear is Leffe Amber Blonde. Its from Belgium and its awesome! I also enjoy Kona Longboard as well.