Thursday, August 24, 2006

Choosing Beer: Trials and tribulations...

I was recently in Stone Harbor, NJ with my family visiting Scott and his family who were vacationing for the week. We decided to pickup some beer at Fred's Liquors. I was pleasantly surprised with their selection which included DFH, Flying Dog, Sam Smith's, Victory and plenty of others. Now I usually take my time when choosing beer, but, tonight I was extra slow in choosing. I know because Scott was prodding me about why it was taking so long :-) I wanted something which would probably be heavy and or hoppy like DFH 90 Minute IPA. Scott mentioned that he was getting um...a little tired of IPAs. What about our wives what would they like. They have been more adventerous with their beer tastes lately...especially since Ommegang BCTC, but, I wasn't sure if they would really be into DFH 90 min. So what to do...what to do. (Scott was getting impatient) Scott went with Corona Light as a good ol' standby summer choice after all we were in a beach town. And...I was ok with that, but, we knew I would want something more. Sooo....I stood there for about 10 minutes trying to decide. Finally it came to about something malty with less hops. I saw Samuel Smith's Organically Produced English Ale. Well there you go. That just might be the ticket. I also picked up a sixpack of DFH Raison D'Etre. I hadn't tasted it in a while and I thought it might appeal to the crowd because of its relative sweetness and smaller hop profile. All in all it worked out. Scott enjoyed the Samuel Smith's. It has an incredible malty and almost fruity nose without the viscous/heavy mouthfeel you might expect...very drinkable. I think the great aroma is characteristic of the organic grains...but, I'm not too experienced with organic beers yet (just this one and Selin's Grove selections). The Raison was not something everybody else was impressed with, but, my wife seemed to like it when she tasted it. The Corona Light...well...what do you want me to say? Those who like drank it enjoyed it and that's what its all about...drink what you like. So, what's your strategy? How do you please everybody in the crowd? Is it barleywine for everyone or Coors Light or...


Bryan Kolesar said...

Wow! What a great 'topic of the week' this would've made! How to satisfy a diverse group of beer drinkers without compromising your principles?

I'm finding myself getting a bit more rooted in my position. That is, I'm losing the desire to keep something "basic" on hand at home for people who don't want something they've never heard of.

I'm beginning to feel that it's more of an obligation for me to introduce them to something better, something that they've never had before. Kind of like what you did with Sam Smith Organic.

That's it. I'm only stocking what I like in my fridge from now on. I'll keep it diverse, but only stuff that I would drink. If guests don't like it and don't want to try something new, tough. Afterall, when we make dinner for company, we don't give them a menu to choose from ahead of time. They get what we cook...right?! ;-)

Bryan Kolesar said...

Hey, speaking of introducing to new beer......what does that make you think of?

That's right. The return of MNF/Beer Night at BK's.

Stay tuned for more soon :)

J said...

Great question.

When I am in a bind like this I usually pick something up that most people have at least heard of but most likely have never tried.

Generally anything by Sam Adams works for me and most people. I also try to stay away from IPA's, Barleywines, and Strong Ales. Another rule of thumb that I follow is to bring a seasonal. For example just last week I went to a bbq and I brought some Bluepoint Summer and Bluepoint Blueberry Ale - both were enjoyed by everyone.

Adam said...


Hope I didn't steal your thunder with a future topic of the week.

I like the idea of stocking up on a diverse enough selection that you're 90% sure you can find something everybody might like.

How do you keep from drinking it? ;-)

Chris B. said...

I had a good experience just last night with a couple people who are adventurous enough but not necessarily beer crazy: I cracked a bottle of Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel.

It might have been an expensive shot at finding something they would enjoy -- and it's not like you can just run out for a six pack of the stuff -- but it has a lot of very familiar tastes to pick out. It's a fun beer. It looks like champagne, comes in a big bottle with a goofy story on it and serves just fine pretty cold.

Anonymous said...

I had a party over the summer where I purchased a number of "damaged" cases from the beer yard (basically a case with a variety of beers) some variety cases and finally a few cases of bud light. Interestingly, the craft and specialty beers were all drunk first. Perhaps this is because they were nearer to the top/front of the coolers and fridge, but perhaps it is because people are always willing to try something new. By providing about 30 different options, they weren't tied down to one particular "heavy" beer that they didn't like. If I, for example, buy case of DFH Chicory Stoudt for a party because I think it is a phenomenal beer, those who don't really like dark, heavy beers will be SOL. But with the crazy variety, everyone could usually find something they could give a try.

Speaking of Corona, I find that mexican beers are always well received during summer gatherings. In order to mix it up, I'll try some rarer ones (tecate, modelo, sol, pacifico) so my "beer geek" side is mildly satisfied.

Adam said...


Very interesting. By giving them a huge selection of "different" beers you have done you're part. All they need to do is find something they are willing to try ;-) I like that tactic.


I don't think I've had that one, Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel.

I wonder if there are certain craft beers that are more know "dead ringers". You don't like fancy beer eh...try this!

Say! I like green eggs and ham! I do. I
Like them Sam I Am! And I would eat
Them in a boat and I would eat them
With a goat . . .

(Yes, I have young kids)

Jeremy said...

I love getting a good mixed case from some craft brewery (currenlty I am stocking the Weyerbacher mixed case in my fridge).
Generally everyone can find something they like, and I like to have a variety to choose from. I generally keep a few 750ml bottles of strong ales for the adventurous people too.

I will generally keep something light around too... if I want to drink a beer but am feeling especially fat, drinking a light beer is my compromise :-)

Bryan Kolesar said...

Don't forget, and this is directed at everyone not Jeremy, that light beer DOES NOT need to refer to Miller Lite, Coors Light, Bud Light, Amstel Light, Corona Light, Rock Light...blah, blah, blah.

Even though I'm not a huge Guinness fan, it and other similar can almost be considered in the light beer category for the craft lover. You can still get an appealing beer sans calories without going over to the "evil side." Don't ever sacrifice taste!!

Anonymous said...

ok, here's a topic for you: what if you have to drink a mainstream light beer -- which would you choose?

I typically will choose bud light -- It just goes down smoothest for me (as opposed to miller lite which seems to have a nasty aftertaste and give me a headache). Smoothness is paramount b/c when I am drinking this type of beer it typically means I am drinking all day long.

I also had heineken light the other day and it was palatable. Went down quite easily.