*Pesky Disclaimer* This post is intended for those of legal drinking age. Please, drink responsibly! Also, I'm not a Brewmaster, feel free to *kindly* point out errors or offer suggestions. Thanks!
Here's the thing, growing up I thought beer was the nastiest substance on the planet. At seven years old that was probably--definitely--a good thing. It smells bitter and tastes like dirty water... because let's be real I BEGGED my dad to let me try just a little bit. He obliged me and knew exactly what he doing because I hated it.
I HATED.HATED.HATED beer when I returned to Milwaukee upon graduation.
And in Wisconsin, in Milwaukee a.k.a. Brew City that's no bueno. So I became determined to start liking this carbonated, fermented concoction of barley and hops. Now a year and a half later, I can not only say I like beer but it is my alcoholic beverage of choice. My 21 year-old, Moscato spritzer and Mike's Hard Lemonade drinking self is in stunned silence right now. (Don't worry, spritzers, ciders, and hard lemonades still find their way into my red Solo cup 😉.)
Welcome to Dr. Alley's Fool Proof Beer-liever Seminar™️.
1. Go on a Brewery Tour
Preferably a craft brewery. If you ever find yourself in Brew City, I can't recommend the Lakefront Brewery Tour enough! I've probably done it three or four times with different friend groups and extended family members. For 10 bucks you get four 6 oz. samples of beer, a souvenir pint glass, and hilarious 30 minute tour. #Bless
2. Try a lot of quality beers, like a lot
Did you know that there's more than PBR, Natty Lite, and other cheap college beers out there? College Alley did, but she didn't believe they could actually be good. (This is where Step 1 really earns its keep.) Trying a lot of beers allowed me to acclimate my palate to the "general taste" of beer while also introducing me to the subtle (and not so subtle) differences between types of beer.
For example, I don't like IPAs. I don't like overtly hoppy taste; which is the taste I associate with the cheap beers of my college days. Also hops absolutely WRECK my stomach which is zero fun. On the other hand, I LOVE dark beers like Stouts and Porters. Not only do they have a smoother rich taste (often chocolate or coffee), but they are actually LESS caloric than other styles. DOUBLE WIN.
Many grocery stores (at least in Wisconsin because as established, we love our beer), have Create Your Own 6-Pack... ugh, 6-packs. I'd suggest picking up some an IPA, an Amber, a Mexican Lager, and some kind of Dark Lager/Porter/Stout. And maybe a seasonal beer like Pumpkin Spiced Lager or Cranberry Ale for funsies. This way you'll get to try a lot of styles without having to commit to a full six- or twelve-pack if you don't like it.
3. Try a few Beer Cocktails
The goal here is to also your palate to acquire the taste of beer. The mixers, garnishes, and little pink drink umbrellas are to "soften" that sharp taste that many of us aren't used to. Again, drink responsibly and be especially careful when mixing alcohols.
Yes, your beloved #SundayFundayBrunch Mimosas sub the champagne for beer. Most people will tell you to use a light beer like Miller High Life or PBR, and that's totally acceptable. I, however, am not most people. I mean, go ahead and try the light beer and OJ but for a real treat use a Dark beer. My favorites are Lakefront's East Side Dark and Milwaukee Brewing Company's Sheepshead Oatmeal Stout. The orange juice brings out the chocolate notes in a new way compared to straight from the bottle or pint glass.
1 Sour + 2 Sweet + 3 Strong + 4 Weak
A little citrus, some simple syrup or fruit juice or club soda, a shot of liquor, and your beer. Try a bit lime juice, simple syrup, tequila, and Dos Equis; or maybe a splash of cranberry juice, some club soda, vodka, and an IPA. Honestly, this rhyme works for any cocktail, you're welcome. And don't feel like you have to follow the proportions exactly!
My friend Brad from college was in the Milwaukee area for work not long ago. We were talking about the difference between Louisiana and Wisconsin and of course alcohol preferences came up. I shared a little bit about the Badger state and MKE's brewing history and how I grew to like beer this year. He asked what I'd recommend to get into beer.
Of course, I gave him the mini-seminar I gave here. That was a Sunday; when we met on Wednesday, he shared that he had gone on the Lakefront Tour, tried several samples, and now was actually starting to like beer! (Even if it was just one or two styles.) Y'all it works.
Already a Beer Snob?
Sweet, let's be friends and meet up for a pint! But did you know this method can be used to explore other beverage snobberies; yes, I am a giver. 😉 Want to explore wine beyond Barefoot? Or coffee? Or quality hard liquor? Easy peasy.
1. Visit a vineyard, or coffee roasters, or distillery.
2. Try a whole bunch of varieties.
Broken record alert: DRINK RESPONSIBLY, that includes all that caffeine!
3. Make a cocktail with it.
Did you read that in Fred Armisen's "put a bird on it" voice? I did. Wine? Make Sangria. Coffee? Literally any combination of espresso or coffee, milk, foam, cream. Brandy or whiskey? Old Fashioneds for all!
Have a beer recommendation or another tip? I'm all cheers.