I love beer. Clearly. But I didn’t always love it. In fact – I used to hate beer. I tried a variety of styles and brands and there was nothing I enjoyed. I distinctively remember trying Sierra Nevada’s famous pale ale, at the age of 21, and nearly spitting the beer out…which is very ironic considering IPAs and pale ales are the style I’ve come to love most. Not everyone enjoys a nice, cold brew and everyone is entitled to their own opinions and preferences. However, sometimes people may find themselves wishing they could enjoy this beverage for some reason or another…maybe their partner is always wanting to visit breweries, or they bartend and want to learn more about the products they sell, or maybe they simply want to expand their taste buds and experience the unique culture surrounding beer. Whatever your reason may be – I have some tips to help you go from hater to a lover.
1. Ease yourself into it: As much as I hate to admit it, I credit Angry Orchard for introducing me to the world of enjoying beer. When I first started drinking, I always preferred sweet beverages, so a cider quickly became my go-to. Shortly after, I transitioned to the moderate, wheaty taste of a Blue Moon. After a while, I gave a pale ale a try…and then an IPA…and then a porter, a stout, a saison, a hefeweizen…and then Budweiser (I know – pretty backwards). If you aren’t a fan of beer, don’t reach for the hoppiest of hops* to introduce yourself – try something relatively similar to your preferred drinks and slowly work your way further away from them. [*Unless your preferred drink is black coffee; hoppy IPAs may be your thing right off the bat].
2. Ask for samples and order flights: Many places will give away samples of draft beers, free of charge and, even if they don’t, they are usually only a dollar or two. If you see something that sounds interesting and you want to give it a go, ask for a sample so you don’t run the risk of wasting $8 on a pint you hate. Breweries and some bars & restaurants also have the option of ordering a flight. Flights usually consist of 4, sample sized beers and you can often choose whichever draft beers you desire. If you are unsure what to order – read my next point.
3. Ask your bartender: Or server, brew master, or whatever their title may be. Be honest, don’t feel ashamed to admit you are just getting into beers. Just make sure you give your bartender something to work with. Tell her that you love the taste of Angry Orchards, your favorite cocktail is a Sex on the Beach, and you hate things that are bitter – this will help her get an understanding of your preferences so she can choose beers she truly believes you will love.
4. Try different brands: You’d be surprised at how different the same style can taste when made by a different brewery. If you try out a wheat beer that you think “I enjoy this sip, but I couldn’t drink an entire pint,” then maybe you like wheat beers, just not that particular one. Don’t give up on an entire style of beer just because you don’t enjoy one brewery’s interpretation of it. Likewise, don’t give up on an entire brewery just because you don’t enjoy one particular beer they make.
5. Be yourself: There is no need to force yourself to drink something you don’t enjoy. If you hoped you could start liking beers and it just isn’t happening – don’t force it. Drink the wine, cocktail, or whatever beverage you prefer and don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t. But I will recommend staying open to trying new things and not crossing beer off your list entirely – you never know when something will come along that you’ll think about for years to come (Firestone Walker’s Velvet Merlin for me…which I haven’t managed to find in years).
Craft beer has come a long way – beer in general has! Right now, microbrews are very hip and trendy and that does not seem to be heading out anytime soon (which I am more than happy with). But, just because something is in does not mean that every single person wants a part of it. If you have tried to like beer and you just can’t do it, don’t feel bad. But, if you want to keep trying, follow the steps listed above, keep an open mind, and ask for samples until you find that go-to beer that you can branch out from once you’re ready!