27 November 2007

How not to convert the masses

One of the fun things about craft beer is exposing it to the uninitiated. I had amassed quite a selection of beer in the house over the past six months, and seeing as that I was going back to Illinois for the Thanksgiving holiday, I decided to pack up my collection and try to convert the cousins, aunts and uncles.

I was fighting an uphill battle to begin with. After explaining that I didn't know how quite a few of the beers I had brought tasted, I heard comments like "why would you pay all that money for beer when you don't even know what it tastes like?" and "what's next, Hoosier Beer Geek?" I'd never heard the words used in a mocking tone - it stings a little.

The idea seemed easy enough - bring beer, share beer, wow family. The mistake I made wasn't in trying to expose a bunch of Miller Light drinkers to beer. The mistake was trying to expose a bunch of Miller Light drinkers to Belgian sours, IPAs, and a few other beers that I hadn't tried before - most of them not really that good.

"Do you actually like this?"

"Well... no."

They did seem to like my BBC Brown and Jefferson's Reserve Stout - but I like them too, and I only had one bottle of each - so those didn't get shared so much.

I'm going to try again at Christmas, though - with Budweiser versus something from Warbird, probably. Or maybe just stuff from a Sam Adams sampler. Better tools.

* * * * *

It's been a little slow around here lately, so I'm going to attempt to get the comments flowing - Got any suggestions for gateway beers to bring the family around? And what have you been drinking lately? Got any recommendations for the rest of us?


  1. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is always a good choice.

    I also like some of better German beer. Weihenstephaner Heffeweisse (Sp?) is a great choice.

    A nice dinner could easily have some of the offerings from Ommegang.

    Also a nice offering from Belgium would be a good starting point.

    It depends on if you are offering an alternative to a good 'ol boy from BMC or someone with a bit better palate.

  2. In my case it's conversion from BMC all the way - usually once folks have broken out of that mold they're open to anything.

  3. I had a Rogue I2PA for the first time at Badaboomz on Sunday. Wasn't too crazy about it. Seemed "hot" to me, and not in an alcohol kind of way. Almost like there was a hint of Chipotle Ale in it. At least the bottle looked cool...I took it with me.

    I also recently had one of the Goose Island Imperial IPA's I picked up from Kahn's. Wooo-eee! That's a very tasty brew. WAY overpriced, though. I don't see why it should cost nearly twice as much as 90 Minute.

  4. With that type of crowd it is always difficult. People will only like it if they are willing to give it a chance.

    You could trick them with a cream ale that will taste close to a lager and have more flavor. I still stand by the SNPA for converts.

  5. New around these parts so don't know the general consensus on Sam Smith Organic Lager but have had some success with it in the past. Sure, it's still just a plain old lager, but it's a good one. Have also found Newcastle to be a great transition for the masses. I know that neither are huge stretches but step 1 is to get people to buy/drink/enjoy something other than BMC.

  6. german pilsners are the way to go. especially considering your BMC beers are distant retarded relatives of said style. nothing beats a crisp, hoppy pils, a malty helles, or a dortmunder, which has the helles maltiness plus the pils hoppiness. it's familiar, it's well carbonated, but they have flavor. maybe not as novel as a double ipa or russian imperial stout, but these are the beers that will sway your hamm's swilling uncle.

  7. We went with an Allagash Tripel, which worked well with the stuffing and spicy pumpkin soup, and a Bison Gingerbread Ale which turned out to be a nice pairing with pumpkin pie.