The Non-Beer-Drinkers Guide to Beer
I’m going to throw this out there… I’m not a beer drinker. Well, okay I’m not a ‘fancy‘ beer drinker. I prefer Coors Light to an $8 pint of some fancy local IPA any day. College consisted of Keystone, Coors, and the like. If I’m at a party and someone hands me a beer, I’ll try it out. But my general rule is that if I can’t see through the glass, there is no way in hell I am going to enjoy that beer. Hoppy is gross, I don’t want that bitter taste, and why drink beer when I can drink wine instead? These are generally my thoughts while tasting nice beer.
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Not A Beer Drinker
I’m going to throw this out there… I’m not a beer drinker. Well, okay I’m not a ‘fancy‘ beer drinker.
I prefer Coors Light to an $8 pint of some fancy local IPA any day. College consisted of Keystone, Coors, and the like. If I’m at a party and someone hands me a beer, I’ll try it out. But my general rule is that if I can’t see through the glass, there is no way in hell I am going to enjoy that beer. Hoppy is gross, I don’t want that bitter taste, and why drink beer when I can drink wine instead? These are generally my thoughts while tasting nice beer.
My general rule is that if I can’t see through the glass, there is no way in hell I am going to enjoy that beer.
No Avoiding It
But recently, the micro-brewery phenomenon has been sweeping towns across the U.S., offering tours, beer flights, and special events. If you haven’t been to a brewery lately, you’re missing out on a fun social event.
But in the handful of times I have been to one of these locations, I always tell the man or woman behind the counter, “Pour me your lightest beer that has the least amount of taste.” Yes, I am one of those. But I have a hunch that there are several of you out there who also fall into this category too, right?
Give Beer a Chance
With my love of wine and knowledge of basic variances between the kinds, why can’t this curiosity apply to beer as well? Maybe if I learn more about what makes an IPA an IPA and what the difference between an ale and a lager is, I will have a deeper appreciation for beer and the work that goes into it. Maybe. So here we go, giving this beer thing a shot.
Ale vs. Lager
Okay, in my research on this, these seem to be the two types of beer that are the matriarch and patriarch of our beer family tree.
Everything else seems to fall under these 2 categories. Even more surprising, lager sounds more intense and hearty, no? But this is actually incorrect. Lagers tend to be the lighter-tasting and crisper beers with a more mellow and smoother finish. Ales are the ones that tend to be heavier and more pronounced with a bitter tastes.
For Visual Learners
This nifty Venn-Diagram above shows which beers separate into the two different families of beers and the ones that somehow overlap.
This means Alcohol By Volume.
If you go to a brewery or somewhere that serves lots of fancy beers and you happen to see this and a percentage next to each title, it is telling you how alcoholic the beer is. ABW or Alcohol By Weight is also another popular measurement.
International Bitterness Unit.
This is one I learned recently that I think all non-beer-drinkers should be aware of. This number, usually stated by the ABV or ABW, will tell you how hoppy and bitter the beer tastes. For me, the lower the number, the better. Some beers like Coors or Bud won’t even have a number listed because it is so low.
From our nifty diagram, you will notice that a Pilsner falls under the Lager category. These beers tend to be lighter and crisper with a light to medium body. If you are new to the beer world, this is a safe bet.
Do not be fooled – there is nothing pale or light about this kind of beer.
This sounds friendly and easy to drink, but it falls under the Ale category (obviously). This beer is made from warmer fermentation and is generally a lot hoppier than other lighter beers.
This kind of beer has a lower alcohol content, allowing beer drinking to last for a longer session. Clever, huh?
There is obviously so much more to be said on the matter of beer and an introduction to its vast wonders. But lets not overwhelm, I think this is enough for now. At least maybe you can finally walk into that local brewery now and have the slightest hint about what you are talking about or ordering. Anything else you think is crucial for beginner beer-drinkers to know? Let us know below! And good luck to all those brave drinkers – may the hops be ever in your favor.