beer beer beer
September 24, 2010 7:09 PM   Subscribe

Beer recommendations for somebody who's not much of a beer drinker?

What are some beers I would like, if I like Éphémère, and wheat beers? I'm also okay with Guinness.

I stay away from very hoppy beers, as I've found they give me migraines.

I am in the U.S. and have access to a wide range of microbrewery and imported beers.
posted by needled to Food & Drink (46 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Delirium Tremens. I have a friend who generally doesn't like beer but likes this distinctive Belgian beer. Caution: it's strong, 9% ABV.
posted by John Cohen at 7:14 PM on September 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

I have a friend who has found only one beer they enjoy, Breckenridge Vanilla Porter, and they enjoy that very much. Not too sweet, not too bitter and just a touch of vanilla.
posted by piedmont at 7:17 PM on September 24, 2010

Blue Moon is a good bet.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 7:20 PM on September 24, 2010

I would look into Belgians, specifically look for the word "Saison" which means farmhouse. These brews use flowery hops that are much lighter than those used in beers like IPAs.
posted by Duffington at 7:21 PM on September 24, 2010

No, not Delirium Tremens. It's at the other end of the lightness scale from Éphémère and wheat beers: all banana aldehydes and syrup.

Kolsch. Altbier. Low-gravity, not too lagery and not too hoppy. Saison. Bière de gard.

And good Breton/Norman (or French-style) cider, especially at this time of year.
posted by holgate at 7:23 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm kind of similar to you (not much of a beer drinker, dislike hoppy beers) and I enjoy Pyramid's Apricot Ale. I'm not sure what most fruit beers are like, but it's not too sweet (nothing like a wine cooler, at least.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 7:28 PM on September 24, 2010

You should try a good dubbel or tripel. They're sweet, and very strong, but can be really delicious. I like Fin du Monde.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 7:30 PM on September 24, 2010

Seconding ciders. Very, very tasty.
posted by cooker girl at 7:33 PM on September 24, 2010

Best answer: If you like Éphémère, any other fruity beers would be good. Samuel Smith has three fruity beers (strawberry, cherry and raspberry), but I bet you'd also like Abita's Purple Haze, which is a wheat beer with raspberry. There is also a good selection of blueberry beers out there (some are seasonal, though). I'd think most fruity beers would work for you, but some are harder to find in the colder months.

If you like Guinness, try some other stouts or porters. They are usually not hoppy. I don't necessarily know enough to recommend specific ones, though.

Some sour beers might work for you, too. Duchesse de Bourgogne is a pretty common one, and I bet you'd be able to find Monk's Café Flemish Sour Red Ale. Both are more punchlike than beer, but very tasty (and plenty of us think that sour beers are going to be the next big thing, replacing the ridiculous hoppy beers that are popular lately, so you'll be ahead of the curve).

If you do want to try a cider, if you can find J.K. Scrumpy, I really recommend it. It's my favorite (the Solstice blend is good too). Some of the pumpkin beers out right now may work for you (I like Dogfish Head's Punkin Ale and Post Road Pumpkin Ale, but that's personal preference).
posted by darksong at 7:39 PM on September 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If you're into ginger-flavored beers, try a Boreale Blanche. Éphémère also comes in black currant flavor, very nice. And still along Unibroue lines, try Fin du Monde with grilled anything. But if you want your mind truly blown, drink anything you can get your hands on from Dieu du Ciel. Even their gross-sounding beers are amazing (esp. Aphrodisiaque, a cocoa/vanilla stout).
posted by YamwotIam at 7:42 PM on September 24, 2010

Lambic. It's a fruity, fizzy beer. I think it's Belgian. Imagine if carbonated juice and beer had a baby. It's very, very good. The most common brand name is Framboise.
posted by Leta at 7:44 PM on September 24, 2010

I like a shandy. I was introduced to it by an expatriate Brit (well, dual citizen since middle school) and I really liked it. Basically it's half beer, half something else (usually a 7-up or Sprite type drink, or lemonade). My favorite is Guinness and 7-up. I quite like the balance: neither the sweetness of the soda nor the strength of the Guinness take control. A lighter beer (say, Corona or American beers) doesn't really stand up to dilution, it works better with a darker beer or lager. Otherwise you should balance the components differently. Maybe 1 part sprite to 2 parts of a lighter beer. I think it's like training wheels for beer to some extent, but I like it. I've ordered it in bars and some know what it is, some don't, luckily it's easy to explain. The only place I've come across that wouldn't serve it to me was a bar in the Charlotte airport during a layover. They brought be a glass of each: a dark beer, Sprite (or Sierra Mist?) and an empty glass and I mixed it myself. I can't recall what the reason was they couldn't mix it for me. It was a rough day of flying and hit the spot.
posted by artlung at 7:46 PM on September 24, 2010 [3 favorites]

For a wheat beer, try Hoegarten

Milk stouts. Left Hand Milk Stout is pretty good. Mackeson XXX was my favorite, but they don't make it in the USA anymore.
posted by deanc at 8:01 PM on September 24, 2010

I really, really, really dislike beer in general, but I can stomach pumpkin ales, the occasional Saison, and yes, cider (of the dry persuasion).
posted by olinerd at 8:05 PM on September 24, 2010

'Tis the season for pumpkin ales. Enjoy!
posted by elder18 at 8:18 PM on September 24, 2010

If you spot it on the shelf, give Warsteiner a shot. One of my favorites. They have two main types, go for the Dunkel, its in the dark brown package.
posted by token-ring at 8:20 PM on September 24, 2010

Iif you can find Fat Tire from New Belgium Brewery, you might give it a try.

You might like Pilsener Urquell. It was my favorite when I first started drinking beer.

Lambics are good too. Lindeman's is probably the easiest to find. Framboise isn't a brand name, as far as I know, but a raspberry-flavored lambic. I prefer the unflavored version, but be warned: it's rather sour.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 8:28 PM on September 24, 2010

I can't recall what the reason was they couldn't mix it for me.

If you're not careful with how you pour it (lemonade first, then beer) you can end up with a fizzquake. It's a Radler in Germany, where there's a huge culture of diluting alcohol with soft drinks: syrup, cola or Fanta to beers, soda water or lemon-lime soda to apfelwein, etc.

plenty of us think that sour beers are going to be the next big thing

I'm in the session beer revivalists' camp, though my dream of a wave of craft brewery dark milds -- another beer that I'd recommend were it easy to find in the US -- is unlikely to be realised.
posted by holgate at 8:29 PM on September 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat is the fruitiest beer I have ever had. The stuff tastes like Fruity Pebbles.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 8:33 PM on September 24, 2010

posted by hortense at 8:36 PM on September 24, 2010

Kriek. Kasteel Rouge is a good one. It's the only beer my beer-hating friend will touch.
posted by 3.2.3 at 8:36 PM on September 24, 2010

Lambic is only going to work out for you if you're into sour beers. Though, if that is your thing, you should definitely check out Berliner Weiße, which is a low-alcohol, sour wheat beer that you drink with syrup. The breweries in my area serve it in the fall a lot.

Spaten makes a really excellent hefe-weisse (marketed as Fransikaner) - both the dark and light brews are worth trying. Hacker-Pschorr is also a good choice for wheat beer. None of those are especially hoppy, and in my experience, most German beers aren't.
posted by DoktorFaustus at 8:40 PM on September 24, 2010

If you like wheat beers, I suggest 21st Amendment's Hell Or High Watermelon. Yes, it's a watermelon Wheat. It's odd as it tastes like both watermelon AND beer. It's also not very sweet.
posted by degoao at 8:40 PM on September 24, 2010

Lambic is not only sour, it's got a really funky note from the unusual microorganisms involved in its fermentation. I like it, but if you try it, don't go into it expecting it's just a fruit beer. And framboise just means raspberry, one of the many fruits used to flavor lambics. Lambic brands include Lindemans, Boon and Cantillon.
posted by mollweide at 8:47 PM on September 24, 2010

Gueuze is a type of lambic that tastes like cider.
posted by brujita at 9:27 PM on September 24, 2010

If you can find it, I highly recommend Kronenbourg's 1664 Blanc. It's a light, fruity beer that has converted a few of my non-beer-drinking friends.
posted by titantoppler at 9:31 PM on September 24, 2010

Wheat: Unibroue Fin du Monde, Avery White Rascal, Chimay

If You like Guinness: Wexford Irish Ale- perfect for those who hate beer, as it is more malty than hoppy, New Holland Dragon's Milk- oaky, chocolate taste, Young's Double Chocolate Stout. Arrogant Bastard is worth a try, although it is pretty hoppy.

Seconding Kasteel Rouge! Tastes like cherry! yum for sure.

Monty Python's Holy Grail. Gotta Try it once!

Of course, don't drink straight from a bottle or can if you can help it, the taste really opens up when poured into a glass. And straight from the tap is even better.
posted by Giggilituffin at 9:37 PM on September 24, 2010

Newcastle was the first beer I actually enjoyed. Of course, now I can't stand the stuff.

Lost Coast Brewery makes a great citrus flavored beer called Tangerine Wheat that many of my non-beer drinking friends enjoy. Even my mom (who drinks Pacifico on ice) thinks it's good.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:50 PM on September 24, 2010

Highly recommend River Horse tripel, and Ommegang Abbey Ale, both excellent Belgian-style ales and extremely tasty.
posted by Aversion Therapy at 9:54 PM on September 24, 2010

posted by pompomtom at 10:00 PM on September 24, 2010

Langur in the US is different than in Belgium. Much sweeter.
posted by dfriedman at 10:03 PM on September 24, 2010

Lambic in the US is different than in Belgium. Much sweeter.
posted by dfriedman at 10:03 PM on September 24, 2010

German Hefes (very banana-y): Weihenstephaner, Franziskaner, Hacker-Pschorr
Belgian Wits: Hoegaarden, Blue Moon, Blanche de Chambly.
I dont know where Leinenkugel wheat fits, but I second it.
For dark beer, I'll suggest Black Butte. Also, try Guinness Extra (bottles) instead of the Draught - it's carbonated normally instead of the nitro mix that goes into the Draught.
Also, I haven't tried, but from what I hear Scottish ales are also on the sweet side.
posted by qvantamon at 10:10 PM on September 24, 2010

Lindemans Peach Lambic tastes pretty much like soda (to me and to several friends who tried the bottle I bought): sweet, bubbly, and we couldn't really detect alcohol. Maybe the other flavors are more sour.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:41 PM on September 24, 2010

Gulden Draak!

While it's a well respected beer, it still makes me think of sparkling grape juice.
posted by ke rose ne at 11:17 PM on September 24, 2010

Also, beer I could stomach before I liked beer: Blue Moon, Moosedrool, Newcastle, Spaten (esp. Optimator). But seriously, the Gulden Draak is a treat.
posted by ke rose ne at 11:24 PM on September 24, 2010

I'm current sipping a Maredsous (enormous fat Belgian biere).

It seems to be working.
posted by philip-random at 11:58 PM on September 24, 2010

I've always thought Magic Hat #9 had a nice hint of apricot. I like it a lot.
posted by Alt F4 at 3:16 AM on September 25, 2010

I don't like the smell or taste of most beers. Smells like pee and tastes like swamp water. But I like Harps on tap. In the bottle is too strong a taste, but on tap tastes wonderful.
posted by FunkyHelix at 6:04 AM on September 25, 2010

Late to the party, but, in a different vein: try having it with food, whatever you're drinking. Preferably meat or kind of heavy foods.
posted by Busoni at 6:32 AM on September 25, 2010

This is cheesy, but do they still make Rolling Rock? I've noticed people who hate the flavor of beer always say they can tolerate either Rolling Rock or Newcastle Nut Brown Ale. Makes sense as neither of them taste anything like beer to me.
posted by ifjuly at 9:21 AM on September 25, 2010

And someone mentioned shandies, which reminds--you might like clara, which is a Spanish drink of beer and lemony soda. Sounds vile, but is more on the lemony side than the beer side, to my mind.
posted by ifjuly at 9:22 AM on September 25, 2010

Best answer: Ach. So many comments so far that are all over the map, and I actually know the answer(s) to this question.

Wheat beers: Since you know you like wheat beers, you're already pretty far in the game. There are three directions to go from here, based on this preference:

1. Lagers/Pilsners. There are two main types of beer, ales and lagers. Ales are more flavorful, lagers are crisper and more chuggable. A pilsner is a light lager that even someone who doesn't like beer should be able to drink. (This is the same group that Miller and Bud are in, but you can get much better ones out there.) I'd try Peroni and see what you think.

2. Hefeweizen. This was my gateway to the beer world, and the first kind of beer that I affirmatively liked. These are unfiltered wheat beers that are low on hops, but tend to have a citrusy, and in a few cases, banana-y flavor. They have a little extra taste, so they're not bland, without having strong hops or malts flavors to turn you away. Virtually any beer that actually markets itself as a hefeweizen should be relatively safe. My current favorite (can be found at bevmo) is Paulaner.

3. White ales. These are light ales that are focused more on spice flavors than they are on hops or malt, so still the kind of mildness for someone who's not big on beer. There's a wide range of these, because the range of spice flavors is very large (which could be another fun way to try a fair number of non-beery beers). My personal favorite is Alaskan white, which has kind of an orange peel flavor going on. Stay away from Blue Moon which is crap without spice flavor and should just call itself a weak ale.

Malty beers: Since you said you don't mind guinness, this tells me that the only thing you don't like is hops. You're really pretty fine with malty flavor, since Guinness is as malty as it gets. A few things to consider from here:

1. Porters/Stouts in general: This is where my advice is weakest, since I'm not a huge fan of stouts, which is what Guinness is. Since you like one, you can try others. Porters, to my understanding, are lighter than stouts, but like I said my advice here is weak. They all just taste like coffee to me.

2. Brown ales. A good brown ale has some of the malty flavors of a stout, but toned down a notch, so the coffee flavor is mixed with some nuttiness. There can be hops here (it varies), so be careful. I'd try Downtown Brown Ale. My memory of this one is very malty, very little hops.

3. Miscellaneous. Over the years, I've had some malty beers that seem low on hops, that you might try. Old Speckled Hen is one I'm going through now. Light hops, light malt, goes well with pizza. Pete's Wicked Ale has slightly more malt, again almost no hops.

tl;dr: Buy Paulaner Hefeweizen or Alaskan White Ale. If you like either of those, this is your roadmap to entering the beer world. If you don't, buy Peroni. If you don't like any of those, give up beer and move on to wine.

Oh, and stay away from lambics, they have a very strong, very yeasty flavor that I don't expect a newcomer to beer to like much.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 10:23 AM on September 25, 2010 [4 favorites]

I hate hoppy beers, too. Here's my suggestion:

start with shandies; half beer and half lemonade. I like Sierra Nevada Nut Brown Ale best for shandies, but you should experiment with a variety of beers and see what you like.

Graduate from shandies to Widemer Hefeweisen. Then move to Blue Moon. I know a lot of people who have pretty much stopped at Blue Moon. If you want to continue further, drink some Unibroue Fin du Monde (it tastes like drinking a loaf of sourdough bread, which will either sound really appealing or not at all appealing to you). Then have an Ommegang Abbey Ale; it's a lot hoppier than the others I've listed so far, but it has other flavors that I think make up for it. At this point you can move into low-hops dark beers, like Unibroue's Trois Pistoles and 1554. You should also try Old Chub at this point, the best beer that comes in a can, but it will be totally ruined for you once someone points out that it tastes remarkably like soy sauce (I may have just pre-ruined it for you).

After doing all of the above plus a few hoppy dead-ends, at this point Session Lager is my favorite "cheap beer", with Fin du Monde as my favorite expensive light (colored, not flavored) beer, and Trois Pistoles as my favorite dark beer.
posted by luvcraft at 10:38 AM on September 25, 2010

Read the BJCP Style Guidelines. For each style that sounds good, try a beer mentioned in the 'commercial examples' section.
posted by PueExMachina at 11:42 AM on September 25, 2010

You may consider going to a high-end beer venue near your location and asking this question of the waitstaff--they tend to be fairly expert. Not sure where you are, but in San Francisco, I'd recommend the Monk's Kettle and their six-page beer list--I went there with a friend recently and the waitress was very knowledgable and helpful. We had a couple of Belgian sour ales, which might be up your alley--not hoppy at all, and an excellent sweet-and-sour balance.
posted by tellumo at 1:21 PM on September 25, 2010

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