Beer Break Vol. 3, No. 14
Spreading the good beer gospel
Jan. 16, 2003
There are practical reasons to work on converting your friends into craft
beer drinkers. First, the more customers there are for specialty beer the
better the chance you'll find it more places. Second, you won't have to drink
However, when you introduce friends unfamiliar with flavorful beer to your
favorite beverage then you should consider what they are ready for. Perhaps
they drink only light beer, perhaps only wine, perhaps only rum and coke.
They might tell you they love the taste of beer but have tried only light
American lagers. They might tell you they hate the taste of beer but have
tried only light American lagers.
Think of it like fixing up a friend on a blind date. The match has a lot
higher potential for success if you base it on his or her tastes rather than
your own. With that rule in mind, here are five exercises that should smooth
out the introduction to flavorful beer. Feel free to adapt them and allow
them to inspire similar ideas.
What's not to like?
Start by finding out what your friend doesn't like about beer, and either
prove there are better, similar beer flavors or offer an alternative. Is it
the musty smell of cigars and stale beer remembered from Dad's basement poker
games? Offer a fresh (but not too hoppy) pilsner. Is it the in-your-face
hoppiness of another friend's homebrewed India Pale Ale? Consider something
like a Bavarian weiss beer or a less extreme member of the pale ale family
(Fuller's London Pride, for instance).
The beer shake
Thanks to Stephen Beaumont for this one. He creates a
shake by mixing a robust beer with gourmet ice cream, for instance McEwan's
Scotch Ale and a local vanilla ice cream. In this case, the rich caramel
character of the beer perfectly complements the intense vanilla beans. No
matter the pairing, the mixture is a great example of the role "mouthfeel"
plays in beer.
The magic word is 'brew'
The coffee-beer crossover is so obvious that Redhook made a stout with
Starbucks coffee, but you may still have to point that out to your friend who
has grown used to the more intense flavors (and higher price) of gourmet
coffees. A stout made with some black patent malt (providing a different sort
of bitterness than hops) is a fine place to start. Also, consider introducing
a latte drinker to the beer shake.
Ask your friend for some favorite dishes and find out what she or he usually
drinks with them. Then serve one of those dishes, an appropriate beer and the
usual drink together. The beer won't win every time, so it doesn't hurt if
you pick a beer-friendly pairing. Some examples: fried seafood and pilsner,
oysters and stout, pork rouladen and Vienna lager, or grilled vegetables and
The taste challenge
Use two similar beers. You'll have to gauge how intense their flavors should
be. Maybe you'll pick two Oktoberfest beers (this works well with Spaten
Ur-Märzen and Paulaner Oktoberfest), or perhaps two brown ales (try to find
two hopped to the same level). Fill two small glasses with one beer, and pour
the second beer into a third glass. You should know what is in each glass;
your friend shouldn't. Ask him or her to pick out the beer that is different.
(To be fair, you might then have the friend pour the beer and you see how you
can do.) This exercise will get him or her focusing on the flavors. When
you've done that, more often than not you have a convert.
Stephen Beaumont recently tasted 1992 and 1994 vintages of Thomas Hardy Ale
side-by-side. His notes on the former:
The 1992 vintage was testament to the difference a couple of years can make.
Notably lighter in colour than its younger kin, the '92 had some notes of
tanned leather and resinous herbs on the nose, along with fainter suggestions
of raisin, chocolate and mint. The body showed some sweetness but was notably
more complex than the '94, with bitter chocolate, dried fruit and earthy and
herbal notes on display, along with some obvious alcohol. The finish held
chocolate mint with warming alcohol. As good and well-developed as this beer
tasted, I felt it could have easily taken some more age.
Read the whole story .