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How do YOU acquire a taste for beer and its many varied and international styles?

Beer is universal. It has existed in different forms and styles - even within some of the most obscure nations of the world - for 10,000 years which says a lot for its seductive side. When I started to discover the different sides of beer, I "thought" I did not like many of them. My tastes, however, have changed.

I have seen debates about whether beer should be lightly tasted, or guzzled in large quantities; whether beer or wine are better with food; whether the purpose of beer drinking is to catch a serious "buzz", or lightly lubricate social interaction; and comments, from some, that beer fills them with gas or imparts a heavy hangover.

I came across a great comment about beer from Beer Hunter Michael Jackson's first article in Playboy Magazine - from August 1983 - called "Beer Chic." In it, he says,

"There are easy tastes and difficult ones. What comes easily can quickly disappoint. Many of the best things in life are acquired tastes: oysters, steak tartare, marrons glaces. Like sex, good beer is a pleasure that can better be appreciated with experience, in which variety is both endless and mandatory. The pleasure lies, too, in gaining the experience: the encounters with the unexpected, the possibility of triumph or disaster, the pursuit of the elusive, the constant lessons, the bittersweet memories that linger."

So I ask again, how do YOU acquire a taste for beer and its many varied and international styles?


Carolyn, Beer & Brewing Editor
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First you totally withdraw from sodas and any sweet liquid at least a couple of days. Second, if you've not really gotten into beer, try it when it's really hot outside and you're sweaty and tired. Press that cold bottle (not can) against you and appreciate the temp diff.
Third, drink a foreign beer in its native country among your newfound friends. In the state, avoid most commercial American beers, you know, the top five! Get into color and weight, lots of hops. Try ales! Try microbreweries! Tour major breweries and try their lessor known beer like Killian's Red.
Fourth, certain foods demand beer--BBQ, Mexican food, Thai food, but sushi needs saki!
Before I went to New Zealand in 91, I despised beer. My husband had worked for Budwiser for 30+ years and I probably hadn't drunk a six pack in 10 years put together. But there I discovered Lion Brown and lost my heart to beer. Touring NZ pubs we were drinking Lion Brown by the pitchers, yes, plural! One for me and one for him. Every time I saw the Lion Brown neon sign in a window, we would pull in.

Then we had our first trip to Alaska in 92 and discovered Alaskan Amber Ale on a Princess cruise. We drank so much and introduced it to so many other passengers that the ship had to go out and buy cases of it in the second port, lol! Here in Central California, we used to have to drive 5 hours to buy it. Gradually it worked its way south till now we can buy it in our very small town of 1800 people.

Basically, through trial and effort, I've come to have my preferred styles of beer, usually darker. Boston has lots of great British pubs where you can get pints. I even had a very distinctive blueberry ale in Massachusetts that I wouldn't hesitate to order again. Just keep trying!

And if you think you like Corona, wait till you get further south in Mexico and try the Corona de barril in the little short round barrel-shaped bottle! Fantastico!

In China we tried every type available (5) and our best bus driver would keep a cooler stocked with beer. We even learned to drink it room temperature, not that I'd recommend it. How's that for personal growth?

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I would add to be REALLY careful about skunking. So many beers you buy in normal situations are already skunked! Start with good quality beers in dark containers. That way you have the best chance of trying something that *does* taste good smile


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skunking?

Personally I HATE HATE HATE the smell of beer. I cannot get past the smell (on a person, permeating from a person, or in the container) to even try to enjoy the taste.

I also might be biased as my birthmother was an alcholic as well as many of my sibs and they drank beer beer and more beer.


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btw.. my aversion is so profound I cannot even eat foods made with beer. The tea room in the same building as my spa serves a beer cheddar bread with their soups and I tried it and had to go throw up when I could taste the beer. most people think i am crazy, but I can taste even the most minute amount in something.


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You have a lot working against you in the subject of beer, Jase, so I would guess that you are one of the few who will never experience a beer you will love. With so many thousands of beers to choose from, and well over a hundred different styles, it's too bad you have such an aversion to beer.

For me, it's like hearing a person say, "I hate green food." Lettuce tastes different from green jello, which tastes different from green tea, which is different from spinach pasta, which tastes different from buttery mint candies that melt in your mouth.

kboodle, I find your post fascinating. My own experiences with beer have been similar to yours. I was once a wine drinker, and thought I hated beer until I experienced High Rollers Wheat Beer from Anderson Valley Brewing Company in Northern California. Then there was Orval, a Trappist beer from Belgium, and I said, "What is this stuff?" and went on to try (and love)the lambics, tripels, IPAs and dubbels....and on and on.

Jase, you might actually like the gluten free beers that are made with totally different grains like sorghum, quinoa, or chestnuts. They can taste quite different, although Anheuser-Busch makes Redbridge that is similar to other gluten-rich beers. Mbege, by Sprecher, may be one you would like...or you might try a lambic (Boon) or Flanders Red like Duchesse du Bourgogne.

Skunking is caused when beer is exposed to light, and can occur in the best of beer that is exposed for as little as one minute. Brown bottles help, but be aware that bottles left on display may get skunked, even under constant exposure to low levels of fluorescent light for an extended period of time. Find a beer vendor who knows how to care for beer, and who has a good turn-over. Some beers with high alcohol levels are meant to be aged, while others are best experienced fresh.


Carolyn, Beer & Brewing Editor
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I can understand how you must feel though, Jase. Being on the receiving end of an alcoholic household must have been terrible, and I feel sad that you had to experience that. Unfortunately, you have the whole mental image to overcome regarding beer, and that's a pretty tall order, wouldn't you say?

I guess I'm one of the lucky ones. I never had that kind of thing to contend with, and regard beer as a delight to "taste"- not something that should be consumed in mass quantities until you are numb and hallucinogenic.

For you, a beer festival would be out of the question, but a high-end beer dinner in a restaurant with a superb chef may be a starting point. (if you ever decided you wanted to work on acquiring neutrality regarding beer.) Hate is a pretty strong word, and neutralizing that hatred may be a move in a positive direction.



Carolyn, Beer & Brewing Editor
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I associate beer with food or thirst. For example, at our favorite steakhouse, I have a specific brand I always order and enjoy, just at that restaurant and just with my favorite dish.

I usually only drink beer during the summer months with typical cookout and grilled foods--burgers, dogs, chicken, steaks, ribs, etc.

OR if I'm really, really hot--there's nothing like a cold, tasty beer to make you feel better!

Just one...after one beer I lose my taste for it.

:-) Cate

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I just went through college, and eventually acquired a taste for beer. Now I cannot get enough of trying new beer and new flavors of beer. I consider it a fun hobby.


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My husband and I were just having this conversation last night.

A commercial came on for one of the many Samuel Adams beers and I said, "I kind of wished I liked beer- because they make theirs sound so good."

And my husband asked me what types of beers I had ever tried.

Really it's only ever been the "typical" American beers - Bud, Coors, etc and then I've tasted Guiness both bottled and on tap because that's hubby's favorite, so I've tasted his.

His reply was that Guiness is basically unlike any other beer out there, and the others I was talking about were conisdered "horse [censored]" by most beer lovers (his words not mine!)

I do love cooking with beer. I like the flavor that beer gives to chicken, both as a marinade and frying, and iof course frying mushrooms and other veggies. And i've cooked with it in other ways, too.

So I guess my questions would be - where do I start to find a beer that I like?

I tend to like sweeter drinks, like Reisling and white wines as opposed to reds (other than for cooking), and my cocktails always tend to the sweet side as well - usually chocolate or fruit based.

Any ideas?


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