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I want to enjoy beer, but I don't. Can you help me?

sockii Jan 19, 2011 02:09 PM

So here is my quandary.

I want to like beer. I really do. I enjoy almost all other alcoholic beverages and spirits, but have never, EVER been able to develop a taste for beer and I feel like I am missing something. Especially as I live in the greater Philadelphia area which has a thriving beer-loving, micro-brew community and tons of great gastropubs with huge beer lists, and I feel like I'm missing out because I have yet to find any beer I'd actually drink over, say, a decent glass of wine or a nice bourbon.

Dark beers just taste like concentrated soy sauce to me, and light beers, well... "p*ss water" is the only term I have for how most taste to me. It bums me out yet I feel like I need some guidance towards beers I might actually enjoy. I'd appreciate some recs so I could maybe pick up a mixed six-pack at one of the good liquor stores near me to sample without committing too much money to the experiment - goodness knows my SO will help me down anything I can't stomach as he enjoys the stuff pretty indiscriminately.

If it helps points any recs in the right direction, I like bitter more than sweet in general, and dry wines over sweet. My favorite spirits are bourbon and tequila, both of which I can and like to drink straight more than mixed if of good quality. I mostly drink red wines more than white - pinot noir and syrah most typically, and if I'm drinking white it's usually a vernacchia or savignon blanc. I actually LOVE dry sake, too.

If I'm just not meant to like beer, I guess that's the way it will be...but I do want to give it a more educated chance based on some Chowhounder recs.

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  1. p
    PotatoPuff RE: sockii Jan 19, 2011 02:20 PM

    Try a flavored beer - I had a great blueberry one, but forget the brand sorry

    1. b
      Bobfrmia RE: sockii Jan 19, 2011 03:26 PM

      If you have Goose Island beers available, you might try Sofie.
      http://www.gooseisland.com/pages/sofi...
      Take a look at a few of the Vintage and Vintage Reserve beers.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bobfrmia
        sockii RE: Bobfrmia Jan 19, 2011 03:56 PM

        Thanks for the link - it does look interesting and I'll see if I can find it locally.

      2. c
        Chowrin RE: sockii Jan 19, 2011 03:31 PM

        lindeman's framboise. perfect llambic. who can say no to raspberry beer?

        6 Replies
        1. re: Chowrin
          sockii RE: Chowrin Jan 19, 2011 03:55 PM

          I've been pondering trying that one as I love raspberry. Fruity beers may be a good entry point for me as I do like hard ciders and such.

          1. re: sockii
            Ernie Diamond RE: sockii Jan 20, 2011 09:27 AM

            Lindeman's is a pretty poor substitute for traditionally made Lambics (Boon, Cantillon, Hannssens), but if you like it, go for it. It is comparatively easy to find. That said, I would point you to their Geuze as it comes much closer to the dry, funky flavors you find in a traditional product but is still pretty accessible

            1. re: Ernie Diamond
              Josh RE: Ernie Diamond Jan 20, 2011 01:54 PM

              The Cuvee Rene is a damn fine gueuze from them. Pity they don't make any fruit lambics like that. I tried their Faro - it was interesting.

          2. re: Chowrin
            deet13 RE: Chowrin Jan 19, 2011 03:58 PM

            +1 for the Lindeman's, it's a very drinkable beer. Though I prefer their cherry (Kreik), and black currant (Cassis) brews.

            Hmm, now I'll have to buy some this weekend.

            1. re: Chowrin
              khh1138 RE: Chowrin Jan 19, 2011 05:28 PM

              I'll add a +1 for the lindeman's as well. I'm not a beer drinker AT ALL (I just have very low tolerance for most alcohols) but I love this stuff in small doses, especially when I cook Austrian food. I like all their flavours, especially raspberry and black currant.

              You could also try a shandy -- that's very common freshly mixed in English pubs -- but you can buy some bottled. It's basically half beer (some light coloured beer) and half lemonade. Really, much tastier than you can imagine and really nice on a hot day.
              This is the kind of shandy I usually buy (it's Austrian so it's called a radler):
              http://www.austriangrocery.com/en/win...

              1. re: Chowrin
                invinotheresverde RE: Chowrin Jan 20, 2011 07:08 AM

                Except the OP says she doesn't like sweet.

                I'd try something like Young's Chocolate Stout. It's totally dry, with a hint of chocolate on the nose. It's pretty easy to find, and if it tastes like soy sauce to you, I'll eat my hat. It's pretty easy to drink and lower in alcohol.

              2. Chinon00 RE: sockii Jan 19, 2011 04:01 PM

                Can you tell us the last few beers you've had and what you haven't liked about them?

                25 Replies
                1. re: Chinon00
                  sockii RE: Chinon00 Jan 25, 2011 03:24 PM

                  Guiness - tasted like soy sauce to me, couldn't stomach more than a sip (except when served as a chaser to a Bloody Mary...) Very "salty" to me and completely unappealing.

                  Any American mass produced beer - basically p*sswater. Can't understand any reason to drink it for pleasure.

                  I've tried a fair number of ales through the years but never found anything I'd choose to drink over wine or a mixed drink.

                  I can almost - almost - stomach some Chinese and Japanese beers like Sapporo but only on incredibly hot summer days, but even then I'd rather be drinking vodka and soda water...

                  1. re: sockii
                    invinotheresverde RE: sockii Jan 25, 2011 03:32 PM

                    I wonder what would happen if you blind (or double-blind) tasted some beers? Guinness, for example, may give you an impression of soy sauce because it looks similarly. It's possible that it's all in your head, because, truly, Guinness is not salty.

                    1. re: invinotheresverde
                      Josh RE: invinotheresverde Jan 25, 2011 05:11 PM

                      If she had Guinness' Foreign Export stout, then I can see why she'd say that. It's much higher in alcohol and tastes very different from the standard Guinness draught you see around, and it became available in the US market a few months ago, IIRC.

                      1. re: Josh
                        invinotheresverde RE: Josh Jan 26, 2011 12:28 AM

                        I've had it. Doesn't resonate as remotely salty to me.

                        1. re: invinotheresverde
                          Tripeler RE: invinotheresverde Jan 26, 2011 04:33 AM

                          Chances are that the OP is assigning "salty" to the very minerally deep roast flavors of the black malt used in Guinness.

                          1. re: Tripeler
                            Chinon00 RE: Tripeler Jan 26, 2011 04:44 AM

                            I seriously doubt that. An inexperienced Guinness drinker wouldn't pick up the minerality only the bitter roast character.

                            1. re: Chinon00
                              invinotheresverde RE: Chinon00 Jan 26, 2011 06:46 AM

                              Ditto.

                              I really think the OP should try blind/double-blind tasting. I bet she'd be surprised.

                          2. re: invinotheresverde
                            Josh RE: invinotheresverde Jan 26, 2011 09:06 AM

                            Well, she did say "salty", implying something that reminded her of that. I had a bottle that was seriously flawed recently, and while I wouldn't say it made me think of soy sauce, it definitely was not pleasant tasting.

                            1. re: Josh
                              invinotheresverde RE: Josh Jan 26, 2011 09:14 AM

                              Like I stated above, I bet it was more due to the appearance and less due to the flavor. JMO, of course.

                              1. re: invinotheresverde
                                Josh RE: invinotheresverde Jan 26, 2011 11:36 AM

                                I really think it depends on one's palate. Asah Black, for example, has a pronounced soy sauce-like flavor to it. I would guess it's something to do with the roasted unmalted grains used. Some people are more sensitive to certain flavors than others. Acetaldehyde is a flavor that I'm very sensitive to, and I pick it up at levels that are sometimes not noticeable to others.

                                1. re: Josh
                                  invinotheresverde RE: Josh Jan 26, 2011 12:02 PM

                                  True, but I'm a sommelier and very aware of the misconceptions that can occur when one relies on visual cues to form an opinion. When wine is tasted with zero preconceived notions, it's the only time it's truly tasted. I'd say the same thing rings true with beer.

                                  1. re: invinotheresverde
                                    Josh RE: invinotheresverde Jan 26, 2011 05:44 PM

                                    I think that sometimes does happen (a lot of people say "I don't like dark beer", which is akin to saying "I don't like white wine"), but I don't know if I'd expect someone to imagine a flavor as specific as soy sauce, especially when some beers do present soy sauce-like flavors.

                                    1. re: Josh
                                      Jim Dorsch RE: Josh Jan 26, 2011 07:56 PM

                                      Michael Jackson used to tell the story of a supermarket beer tasting he once did. Customer said, "I don't like dark beer." MJ asked, "Which ones don't you like?" Response: "I don't know. I've never had one."

                                      1. re: Josh
                                        Chinon00 RE: Josh Jan 27, 2011 03:10 AM

                                        Which beers do you think taste like soy sauce?

                                        1. re: Chinon00
                                          Josh RE: Chinon00 Jan 27, 2011 07:35 AM

                                          Asahi Black, which I mentioned earlier, is the one that jumps immediately to mind. I also seem to recall tasting an element like that in Sam Smith's Imperial Stout, and there's another imperial stout, A. Le Coq, that I remember having soy sauce-like elements in its flavor.

                                          1. re: Josh
                                            Chinon00 RE: Josh Jan 28, 2011 10:19 AM

                                            I'll confess that while drinking Caber Tossing Scottish Ale by Fox River Brewing Co. I do pick up something similar to soy sauce. Doesn't make it unpleasant though.

                                            1. re: Chinon00
                                              Josh RE: Chinon00 Jan 28, 2011 11:27 AM

                                              Yeah, I don't mind it. Asahi Black is a great beer for sushi, and I think part of that is the soy-like element in its flavor.

                                  2. re: invinotheresverde
                                    MVNYC RE: invinotheresverde Jan 28, 2011 11:02 AM

                                    I am inclined to agree with you here. Guinness tastes nothing like soy sauce, I think the visuals of dark beer can influence perception.

                                    1. re: MVNYC
                                      Josh RE: MVNYC Jan 28, 2011 11:26 AM

                                      I know the standard Guinness doesn't, but I definitely picked up some strange flavors in the Foreign Export bottle I tried.

                                      1. re: Josh
                                        MVNYC RE: Josh Jan 28, 2011 07:25 PM

                                        I would be interested to know what the original poster tried. Somehow I don't think it was the Export.

                          3. re: sockii
                            Chinon00 RE: sockii Jan 25, 2011 05:59 PM

                            Step one - Revisit "dark beers". There are more out there than just dry Irish stouts like Guinness. Try German Doppelbock, Belgian Strong Dark Ale, Baltic Porter, Coffee Stout, and Scottish Ale. These beers are all very different from Guinness.
                            Step two - Try exotic beers like gueuze, Flanders Red Ale, and strongly herbed gruit.
                            Step three - Wheat beers like wit, hefeweizen, dunkelweizen and weizenbock for fruity, clove-y, banana, and herby flavors.

                            1. re: sockii
                              x
                              xprmntl RE: sockii Mar 30, 2011 08:15 PM

                              Get the Goose Island quick, they were just sold to Budweiser!

                              1. re: xprmntl
                                Jim Dorsch RE: xprmntl Mar 31, 2011 09:23 PM

                                I don't think you'll see any change in their beers due to the purchase.

                                1. re: Jim Dorsch
                                  Insidious Rex RE: Jim Dorsch Apr 4, 2011 10:17 AM

                                  How can you be so sure? Thats what they said about Old Dominion.

                                  1. re: Insidious Rex
                                    Jim Dorsch RE: Insidious Rex Apr 4, 2011 10:40 AM

                                    I'm sure because I know John Hall and I believe what he says. And I don't think that's what they said about Old Dominion.

                                    IAC, you have two very different situations with ODBC and GI. Old Dominion was ready to sell, they had investors who wanted to cash out and they were not ascendant at the time. Goose Island is on a roll, they are what AB needs in Chicago, and while GI was shopping around for equity solutions, they were in a position to exercise some leverage.

                                    If you look at the two situations, GI has a lot of momentum, while OD was probably a bit tired.

                                    I posted about John Hall's Tribune piece. Let's take any further talk about this over to that thread.

                          4. Jim Dorsch RE: sockii Jan 19, 2011 04:16 PM

                            Try Rodenbach or Duchesse de Bourgogne. Orval is another nice one that might appeal.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Jim Dorsch
                              TongoRad RE: Jim Dorsch Jan 20, 2011 02:49 PM

                              I'd also add Hennepin to that list, it'd probably be the first thing I offered the OP if I were present. But those came to mind right away as well.

                              I also think some beers in the IPA direction would worth a try- along the lines of the previously suggested Two Hearted, or Stone, or Founders Centennial, or Bear Republic Racer 5.

                            2. Josh RE: sockii Jan 19, 2011 04:22 PM

                              Based on your comments, it sounds like you've had some bad luck in terms of sampling. If the dark beers you've been drinking remind you of soy sauce, then it sounds like you're working a vein of some very similar-tasting ones.

                              I'd ignore the suggestions to go for Lindeman's Framboise - it is sugar-sweet, and while technically a beer, is so dissimilar in flavor to any other beer that it's not going to help you develop a taste for a broader range of styles.

                              My suggestion, especially given your preference for wine, is to try some Belgian beers - specifically Trappist ales. I used to only like wine, and Trappist beer was my gateway to beer appreciation, because it has complex flavors that are reminiscent of wine. Something to keep in mind, too, is that most places serve beer much too cold - Trappist ales in particular benefit from a serving temperature in the mid-50s.

                              Trappist Ales:
                              Chimay Red, Blue, or White
                              La Trappe Dubbel
                              Rochefort 8 or 10
                              Orval

                              Non-Trappist Belgian:
                              Duvel
                              Saison Dupont

                              Non-Belgian Belgian (i.e. brewed in a Belgian style but not from Belgium):
                              Victory Golden Monkey
                              Brooklyn Local 1
                              Brooklyn Local 2
                              Brooklyn Sorachi Ace
                              Unibroue Ephemere
                              Unibroue Blanche De Chambly

                              You might also try some of these, which are a mix of dark and light, but won't be too light or too much like soy sauce, and have lots of flavor:

                              Anchor Steam
                              Anchor Liberty Ale
                              Rogue Dead Guy
                              Rogue Soba Ale
                              Grand Teton Sweetgrass
                              Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
                              Dogfish Head Chicory Stout
                              Dogfish Head Indian Brown
                              Brooklyn Pennant Ale
                              Blue Point Rastafa Rye

                              Good luck on your quest!

                              13 Replies
                              1. re: Josh
                                Ernie Diamond RE: Josh Jan 20, 2011 07:33 AM

                                I agree 100% that the beers Josh recommended are all very good.

                                My typical route with people when introducing them to new beers (or to beer in general) is to favor Belgian goldens and tripels as they are full flavored without a pronounced hop profile and tend to have a very dry finish. These beers also benefit from ageing well in the bottle which mitigates the risk of getting a stale beer.

                                My favorite gateway beers in this category:
                                Duvel
                                Augustijn
                                Piraat
                                Delerium Tremens

                                On the dark front, I suggest British Ales. These beers (many, anyway) are the original session ales, meant to stay refreshing and easy to drink even when you are six in. That cannot always be said of funky American craft beers.

                                (Easy to find) Favorites:
                                Fullers London Pride
                                Fullers ESB
                                Bluebird
                                Belhaven Twisted Thistle

                                Keep in mind that many American craft brewers produce beers with a significant hop profile and just as often, beers with a very high alcohol content (twice what you might find in comparative European styles). Your tastes may not be there just now. It may just as likely be that your tastes (like mine) don't favor that profile at all. Just because a bar serves it and just because the local beer geek likes it doens't mean that it is a good beer. Be comfortable in your own shoes.

                                If you want to get really academic about it, look up the BJCP Style Guidelines and give it a read through. It categorizes beers according to how they are entered in competition. You can learn a lot about classic styles and best examples. Once you find one that suits you, you can start to go deeper.

                                http://www.bjcp.org/docs/2008_Guideli...

                                Happy hunting.

                                1. re: Ernie Diamond
                                  Josh RE: Ernie Diamond Jan 20, 2011 07:57 AM

                                  Good suggestions - I'd also add Stoudt's Scarlet Lady ESB, since that will be local to the OP and is very tasty.

                                  1. re: Ernie Diamond
                                    sockii RE: Ernie Diamond Jan 25, 2011 03:27 PM

                                    Thank you for the suggestions - I appreciate it.

                                  2. re: Josh
                                    a
                                    askeenan RE: Josh Jan 24, 2011 10:52 AM

                                    Totally agree with Josh about skipping the Lindemanns etc. as it seems it would be too sweet for your palate. I know it is for mine.

                                    1. re: askeenan
                                      Chinon00 RE: askeenan Jan 24, 2011 11:58 AM

                                      When this issue of sugar comes up for both wine and beer to me there are different utilities for beers or wines of greater or lesser sweetness. I see it as I see savory versus sweet foods. Do many of us dismiss desserts because they are sweet? No because it's our expectation. Same with beer and/or wine if it is your expectation that either can be dry or sweet. Much like dessert I won't drink as much of a sweeter beer than I would a dryer one though.

                                      1. re: Chinon00
                                        Ernie Diamond RE: Chinon00 Jan 25, 2011 09:10 AM

                                        In the case of Lindeman's in particular, though reference is being made to a beer that, though sweet is not as well made as others of its ilk. It isn't that Lindeman's is "too sweet for some," it is, by design a sweet drink. Closer to a Malt beverage (think Mike's Hard Lemonade) both in flavor and construction than to traditional lambics brewed with the addition of fruit.

                                        While some may enjoy the taste, it is not closed-minded to waive people off the product entirely. After all, there are those who like Smirnoff Ice but I don't see that being touted much on any of these boards.

                                        1. re: Ernie Diamond
                                          Josh RE: Ernie Diamond Jan 25, 2011 10:25 AM

                                          I actually like Lindemans' stuff, but view the fruit beers as more of a dessert accompaniment. I had a 5 or 6 year old bottle of Cassis that had developed some really interesting flavors as it aged. Lindemans still uses wild yeast, so the beer will develop in the bottle over time.

                                          I mainly suggested the OP avoid it because of her expressed dislike of sweet drinks.

                                          1. re: Josh
                                            Ernie Diamond RE: Josh Jan 25, 2011 11:05 AM

                                            Interesting. I admit that I haven't had the cassis and I would never think to age one. I do like their Geueze so I know that they start in a good place...

                                            1. re: Ernie Diamond
                                              MVNYC RE: Ernie Diamond Jan 27, 2011 03:50 PM

                                              The Cassis is the only one that isn't too sweet. I like it occasionally.

                                          2. re: Ernie Diamond
                                            c
                                            Chowrin RE: Ernie Diamond Jan 28, 2011 05:43 AM

                                            to me, it's about the lightest "beer" flavor you can get. If the problem is the concentration, then it might be enjoyed.
                                            Agree OP said no sweet, but OP also expressed interest in raspberry.

                                            Drunken as a dessert, it is a good beverage.

                                            1. re: Ernie Diamond
                                              Chinon00 RE: Ernie Diamond Jan 28, 2011 06:24 AM

                                              Which beers do you enjoy that are demonstrably sweet?

                                          3. re: askeenan
                                            x
                                            xprmntl RE: askeenan Mar 30, 2011 08:17 PM

                                            The Lindemans Apple and Cassis (currant) are not very sweet. The Cassis is fantastic--that earthy bitterness and deep berry flavor. Recommended for a wine guy. The Kriek (cherry) is very sweet, the Framboise (raspberry) medium, and the Peche (peach) lightly sweet.

                                          4. re: Josh
                                            sockii RE: Josh Jan 25, 2011 03:25 PM

                                            Thank you for the tips (and sorry for the late reply, just catching up on this thread!) I'm taking notes and will try to pick out some selections to try in the next few weeks.

                                          5. c
                                            chuckl RE: sockii Jan 19, 2011 04:33 PM

                                            Two words:
                                            Allagash White
                                            Trust me

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: chuckl
                                              Josh RE: chuckl Jan 19, 2011 05:15 PM

                                              Great rec. I'd add Allagash Dubbel, too.

                                            2. s
                                              saacnmama RE: sockii Jan 19, 2011 05:46 PM

                                              2 suggestions:
                                              No one's mentioned wheat beer; you might want to give it a try
                                              Try drinking beer at different times of the month (I assume you're a woman). Guinnis used to be recommended for nursing mothers because the B vitamins in it helped replenish iron. You might want to try some dark beers around the time when you're low on iron. I sometimes crave a wheat beer just before, but have no idea or nutritional suggestion as to why.
                                              Good luck and cheers!

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: saacnmama
                                                pete k RE: saacnmama Jan 20, 2011 07:40 AM

                                                This is a great suggestion.

                                                I would recommend any sort of hefeweizen's. Another good one to start out with is Purple Haze.

                                                1. re: pete k
                                                  Josh RE: pete k Jan 20, 2011 07:57 AM

                                                  The OP stated she doesn't like sweet drinks, so I'd say Purple Haze is best avoided.

                                                2. re: saacnmama
                                                  sockii RE: saacnmama Jan 25, 2011 03:29 PM

                                                  Hi, yes, female in gender :) I'll keep in mind your suggestions!

                                                3. p
                                                  pemma RE: sockii Jan 20, 2011 07:37 AM

                                                  If you like bitter, I would think you would think you would like Guiness, but you need to have it on draft, not at home.

                                                  1. l
                                                    LStaff RE: sockii Jan 20, 2011 08:28 AM

                                                    My advice is to seek out local brewpubs and try their samplers. Take note of the style of beer which you like most, then seek out examples of those styles at your local beer store. Beerfests and in-store tastings are a great place to get a wide range of samples too. I wouldn't be too concerned with a particular brand - you can narrow down to you favorite brand after you get a feel for what styles/flavor profiles you prefer.

                                                    7 Replies
                                                    1. re: LStaff
                                                      a
                                                      Augie6 RE: LStaff Jan 20, 2011 08:54 AM

                                                      You know, I might regret saying this, but get a Samuel Adams variety pack ... I fully agree that almost every beer listed ( that i have tried) is *much* better than Sam Adams. But they do border the line between p*ss water and full flavored. ALso wont break the bank.

                                                      I think with developing a taste (appreciation) comes with practice (sounds crazy with alchol, i know) ... Your taste buds have to become use to taste, so if you are drinking a sip or two once in awhile it will always taste awkward.

                                                      1. re: Augie6
                                                        Josh RE: Augie6 Jan 20, 2011 01:56 PM

                                                        Oh please no, don't suggest that. We want her to *like* beer.

                                                        The only beer that's likely drinkable in such a pack is the Boston Lager.

                                                        1. re: Josh
                                                          b
                                                          beerambassador RE: Josh Jan 21, 2011 06:51 AM

                                                          Give me a break. They make plenty of beers that are drinkable and even better than drinkable. It's fashionable in some parts to hate on Boston Beer Co. (Sam Adams) since they're so big. But they make some darn good beers, with Boston Lager being their flagship and a very good, approachable beer. They also make a few atrocious beers, but the good they brew far outweighs the bad.

                                                          http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/35

                                                          BeerAdvocate drinkers seem to think they do a fine job. An awful lot of B and B+ grades listed there.

                                                          1. re: beerambassador
                                                            Josh RE: beerambassador Jan 21, 2011 08:35 AM

                                                            I like the Boston Lager quite a bit, and order it often. I just wish they displayed the same restraint shown in that beer in their special releases.

                                                            Maybe I haven't tried the "right" SA beers, but out of their beers I've tried in that BA list, the ones I'd call flops would include: Summer Ale, Cranberry Lambic, Triple Bock, Cherry Wheat, White Ale, Light, Blackberry Wit, Coastal Wheat, and Winter Lager. The only ones I thought were okay were the Chocolate Bock and the Oktoberfest.

                                                            To be fair, I haven't tried, or even known about, many of the beers on that list, so I'd be perfectly willing to try any of them with an open mind, but their speciality releases are the last thing I would recommend to a newbie. If you don't know much about beer, then being confronted with something like the Lemon Pledge-flavored Summer Ale might leave you thinking that beer is supposed to taste that way.

                                                            As for fashion, I have no idea what you're talking about. I think that's an easy way to dismiss perfectly valid criticism of BBC. Believe it or not, some of us are actually capable of independent thought, and I remember vividly my dislike of Triple Bock when it came out in 1996, my antipathy towards Cherry Wheat, and my revulsion at Cranberry Lambic, long before anything like BA or RateBeer existed.

                                                            1. re: Josh
                                                              a
                                                              Augie6 RE: Josh Jan 21, 2011 09:29 AM

                                                              I agree Boston Lager is a nice beer. It is not my favorite, but it is a widly available altervative to miller lite. As for the other beers in the sample pack , i cannot comment. I do like winter lager, in moderation. Oktoberfest in not bad. The rest are styles I do not like, not brand but style of brewing.

                                                              It all does come down to personal taste ... all the rating sites are a nice start, but personal taste is the finisher.

                                                              1. re: Augie6
                                                                Insidious Rex RE: Augie6 Jan 21, 2011 09:42 AM

                                                                I would also point out (as has been noted in other threads) that the SA Noble Pills is very nice. Their Latitude 48 IPA isnt bad either. And frankly their Boston ALE gets confused with their Boston Lager. But both are decent brews. I really dont think anyone should suggest to newbies that they run away from sam adams as a rule. Thats not really fair and sends the wrong message. But based on what sockii states about her tastes, theres no need to specifically seek out Sam Adams product either necessarily. Sounds like those who suggested IPAs and decent Belgian styles have it right since she says she specifically enjoys bitter over sweet (and wine like flavors). At the same time I wouldnt go too extreme on the IPA scale (thinking 120) because at extreme levels they can come off as toxically sweet from the tonnage of grain needed to balance the high alpha signature. Stick to a straight ahead IPA, probably west coast or anything featuring cascade hops which tends to lend a real citrusy bitterness rather than a harsh one.

                                                        2. re: Augie6
                                                          sockii RE: Augie6 Jan 25, 2011 03:31 PM

                                                          Heh. Sam Adams of different varieties was what I had pushed on me a lot during grad school, and I could keep it down but it never did anything for me.

                                                      2. m
                                                        maple99 RE: sockii Jan 20, 2011 09:27 AM

                                                        I suggest you just go to a bar with great selection and speak to a server about the kinds of tastes you like/dislike and then let them suggest something. Good places will have servers who react positively to that sort of question, not ones who say something like I don't drink beer I just serve it. In Philly, good spots would be Tria or Monk's Table. Given that you like bitter tastes, you really should try a quality west coast IPA, such as Stone IPA, which is widely available in well-stocked stores. I think you can handle the higher alcohol and strong bitter taste. The best IPAs will have different layers of flavor appearing at different times, just like good wine, not just one-note bitterness. Skip the fruit beers ("panty-droppers") as it sounds like you are not one to need camouflage on your alcohol.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: maple99
                                                          m
                                                          maple99 RE: maple99 Jan 20, 2011 10:06 AM

                                                          Also ... Tria usually has Bell's Two-Hearted Ale on tap. This is as sure a win as anything. If you don't like that, I give up.

                                                          1. re: maple99
                                                            a
                                                            Augie6 RE: maple99 Jan 20, 2011 10:35 AM

                                                            I 2nd Bell's Two-hearted ... not my fave. . but if you don't enjoy that .. probally should just stick with wine.. .

                                                            Stone is amazing.

                                                          2. re: maple99
                                                            c
                                                            Chowrin RE: maple99 Jan 20, 2011 10:21 AM

                                                            *eyebrow* my favorite beers to date are a Troeginator and Lindeman's Framboise.

                                                            1. re: maple99
                                                              sockii RE: maple99 Jan 25, 2011 03:35 PM

                                                              Heh. Thanks for the tips. No problem with high alcohol content here (I have an almost shameful love for Wild Turkey 101).

                                                            2. Ernie Diamond RE: sockii Jan 20, 2011 10:58 AM

                                                              A thought; earn your beer. Beer is every bit a food product. Instead of having one at dinner or just when you are at the bar, try one after a workout or at the end of a long day. Your body will react favorably to the intoduction of the salts and nutrients in the beer which also may tip the scales in favor of flavor. Just a thought.

                                                              At the moment, I am sort of beered out so I am not drinking as much as I did a while ago. It does not temper the satisfaction that comes from one at the end of a long day, however.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: Ernie Diamond
                                                                sockii RE: Ernie Diamond Jan 25, 2011 03:38 PM

                                                                Honestly about the only time I have truly enjoyed beer before was on really hot days after a long exertion...a light beer once after hiking through a rainforest or a midnight after a rock concert in August at Giants Stadium. But I do a lot of heavy cardio so I may just try my next beer after a workout and see if that changes my appreciation factor!

                                                                1. re: sockii
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                                                                  Chowrin RE: sockii Jan 26, 2011 07:08 AM

                                                                  ... if that's theonly time you enjoy beer --welcome to the rest of the world! Seriously, a lot of the South only drinks beer after a good hard workout. And only light beers.

                                                                  1. re: sockii
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                                                                    AussieBeth RE: sockii Jan 26, 2011 08:50 PM

                                                                    My tip (which I had in mind even before I read this) is to start by drinking beer when you are hot and sweaty - I have developed quite a taste for beer (which, like you, I specifically set out to do), and it all started through grabbing my husband or a close male friend's beer on the dance floor to have a swig of just for pure refreshment purposes. After a few months of making a habit of this, and I was on to my own beer for dance floor refreshment, and now I quite enjoy it at any time of day. I found I really did need to educate my palate, and this was a great way to start, so post work-out might work well for you. For the record, I like lighter beers like Asahi, Stella and Becks. Good luck!

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                                                                  pahiker6 RE: sockii Jan 20, 2011 02:05 PM

                                                                  Since you're in Philly, try Monk's Flemish Sour.

                                                                  Bell's Two Hearted Ale (as noted by others) is an excellent beer as well.

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                                                                    erin_grogan RE: sockii Jan 20, 2011 02:40 PM

                                                                    Since you like bourbon and red wine, I would recommend a couple of nice bottles that will certainly NOT be piss water or soy sauce.

                                                                    Apologies if these are not readily available in your distribution area, but look for:
                                                                    Goose Island Bourbon County Stout and/or Founder's Kentucky Breakfast Stout. As suggested, stouts aged in bourbon barrels, and the bourbon is very present. Similarly, the Allagash Curieux is aged in bourbon barrels. *Note* these are big, imperial stouts and will check in between about 10-13%.

                                                                    To go in a different direction, the Allagash Interlude- aged in French oak barrels for a wine-like beer.

                                                                    These are all single bottles (750ml, with the exception of the Founder's, which is a 12 oz. bottle), and depending on where you live, I would expect to pay ~$15/bottle. So, think of this is a nice beer to split with someone one night, in addition to buying a mixed six-pack with some of the other recommendations here (which is also a fun way to test out what you like!).

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: erin_grogan
                                                                      sockii RE: erin_grogan Jan 25, 2011 03:39 PM

                                                                      Oooh, I love the idea of aging in bourbon barrels, so I will definitely see if I can find those. Thanks!

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                                                                      Solstice444 RE: sockii Jan 20, 2011 04:07 PM

                                                                      Dogfish Head Red & White might be a good choice, since you like red wine. It has pinot noir juice in it and I think it's also aged in pinot noir barrels. Of course, now this is probably the 100th suggestion you've gotten. Good luck!

                                                                      1. Chinon00 RE: sockii Jan 21, 2011 06:26 PM

                                                                        I'd suggest that you steer clear of any fruit beers or novelty brews mentioned (read DFH) and stick with traditional approachable styles mentioned like wit and hefe. I'd actually suggest any beer from Ayinger particularly their Brau Weiss and Hefe. These beers pack flavor without being too hoppy or heavy. Ayinger is easy to find and one of the better imported German breweries in my opinion.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Chinon00
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                                                                          chuckl RE: Chinon00 Jan 22, 2011 04:01 PM

                                                                          I'd put weihenstaphen in the same category

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                                                                            AussieBeth RE: Chinon00 Jan 26, 2011 08:51 PM

                                                                            + 1 on avoided the fruit beers - if you love tequila, you can handle a non-fruity beer.

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                                                                            HeBrew RE: sockii Jan 22, 2011 03:33 PM

                                                                            Most folks have already recommended good beers, so I'll recommend that you try them sparingly...trying more than three different beers at a time will cause your palate to get "confused" and you might end up hating a really good beer. If possible, serve it in the glass that is appropriate for the style, see http://beeradvocate.com/beer/101/glas...
                                                                            Most importantly, try it at the temperature that is appropriate for the style 35 - 45 for hefeweizen, lagers, and pilsners; 45 - 54 for stouts, porters, pale and amber ale; 54 - 57 for bock, IPA, and brown ales; 57 - 61 for double (imperial) IPA, dopplebock, and barley wines.
                                                                            Two tell tale signs of mediocre beer is over carbonation and serving it insanely cold. Typically, a good beer tastes better at the right temperature because more flavors are apparent at warmer temperatures.
                                                                            I also recommend that you trust your senses...pour it and look at its appearance, if it looks good then the beer passed test one. Then smell it. If the aroma is appealing the the beer passed test two. The next step is to taste it.
                                                                            The BJCP style guidelines describe the appearance, aroma, flavor, and mouthfeel for all major styles of beer so if you read those you should have a really good idea of what type of beer you'd like to try before you take your first step.
                                                                            I will warn you that once you find your favorite style and brand, don't be surprised if you decide it's time to start making it yourself (my small pimping of the art and joy of homebrewing).

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: HeBrew
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                                                                              lochan RE: HeBrew Jan 25, 2011 09:41 AM

                                                                              Hey! I was exactly in the same boat with you just a few months ago. I'm a 35-yr-old who recently started to like beer after thinking that it tasted awful. It happened after I moved to Brooklyn (where everyone seems to drink beer). I went to a BBQ that served nothing BUT beer so I actually found that I liked a Hefeweizen I picked up and became hopeful about liking beer .
                                                                              In the last 6 months, I've grown to like these beers:
                                                                              Blue Point Toasted Lager
                                                                              Sixpoint Sweet Action
                                                                              Goose Island
                                                                              Anchor Liberty
                                                                              Chimay
                                                                              Red Stripe
                                                                              Sam Adams Brown Ale & Winter Lager
                                                                              Saranac Brown Ale
                                                                              Fin Du Monde

                                                                              It was a lot of fun being a guinea pig for my friends who helped me discover what I liked/disliked. I was lucky to start the process in the summer with the wheats then moved on to the fuller-bodied when the weather turned cold.

                                                                              In general, I think it's important to nail down which "category" you favor (I seem to like the toasty nutty flavors) and move on from there. I don't like IPAs b/c they seem too bitter to me.

                                                                              Enjoy!

                                                                              1. re: lochan
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                                                                                Chowrin RE: lochan Jan 26, 2011 08:38 PM

                                                                                like beer. hate hops. ;-)

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                                                                                  kedbro RE: Chowrin Feb 1, 2011 06:59 PM

                                                                                  What?

                                                                            2. GraydonCarter RE: sockii Feb 1, 2011 06:14 PM

                                                                              The first beer that I learned to like was San Miguel Dark - it has mild sweet caramel notes, no hop or yeast character at all.

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                                                                                Kenji RE: sockii Feb 3, 2011 08:38 AM

                                                                                I have changed the minds of many self-professed beer-haters by introducing them to (depending on their taste): Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Young's Chocolate Stout (Rogue CS also works), or Lindemann's Framboise (or Kriek).

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: Kenji
                                                                                  GraydonCarter RE: Kenji Feb 3, 2011 03:19 PM

                                                                                  +1 for Kriek

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                                                                                  Fromageball RE: sockii Mar 13, 2011 09:07 AM

                                                                                  For most of college I thought beer was the most disgusting thing ever...I couldn't even get one down at parties. Then I studied abroad in Germany. I would start with hefe weizen/wheat beer; that's what I usually got and it helped me to get a taste for beer because it's mild and then you can venture out from there. Of course, when beer is cheaper than anything else at the restaurant, you almost have to order it right? So that's what got me started and now I like pretty much everything. I tried some sour beer last weekend and the bartender was really surprised that I liked it. Beer has come a long way in terms of good, local beer being available in many places for pretty cheap.

                                                                                  1. shrimp13 RE: sockii Mar 17, 2011 11:15 AM

                                                                                    My wife came to beer via sour ales. First geuese then Lips of Faith la Folie, Monk's Cafe and the Duchesse - then Flemish Farmhouse ales and that vanilla-y Anderson Valley stuff. Now her beer palette is much broader but English and Irish cider are still her faves.

                                                                                    1. pikawicca RE: sockii Apr 12, 2011 05:18 PM

                                                                                      I would avoid craft brews initially (although I love them). Try something totally innocuous and inoffensive, such as Heineken; this will give you an introduction to the basic beer flavor profile, kind of like dipping your toe into the cold water of the Atlantic. Once you've become acclimated, you can branch out. (But I'd save the really strong, hoppy beers for a few years.)

                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: pikawicca
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                                                                                        chuckl RE: pikawicca Apr 12, 2011 07:11 PM

                                                                                        I'd disagree with your suggestion for Heineken, unless the poster wants to develop a habit for all too often skunked beer. I see the OP is in Philly. He should try a local pils instead.

                                                                                        1. re: chuckl
                                                                                          pikawicca RE: chuckl Apr 12, 2011 07:13 PM

                                                                                          I've never had a skunked Heineken.

                                                                                          1. re: pikawicca
                                                                                            Chinon00 RE: pikawicca Apr 12, 2011 07:21 PM

                                                                                            Then you haven't had more than one Heineken.

                                                                                            1. re: Chinon00
                                                                                              Josh RE: Chinon00 Apr 12, 2011 11:03 PM

                                                                                              Maybe they've only had it on draft or in cans?

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