Delirium, over at “De Cervezas y otras cosas”, has set a very interesting topic for this month’s “round” (the Session for Spanish-speaking beer-bloggers). It was so thought-provoking that we thought we’d post it in English as well.
The challenge was to come up with a “virtual” tasting session aimed at people who are not beer lovers. We had to pick between five and eight beers that we would put forward, avoiding obscure microbreweries, and explain why we’d selected them.
We like to beervangelise from time to time, so it’s a question we’ve thought about a lot in the past. After much pondering, we finally came up with some definite proposals, which we put forward here.
When deciding what to include, we wanted to present a wide range of styles, so that the beer novice would be suitably impressed by the variety available. At the same time, the beers have to be accessible – so no Rauchbier or Flanders Reds… Also, in keeping with the spirit of the question, we’ve not specified any cask ale in this list, given its limited availability outside the UK.
This list is not “our favourite beers”, although we’d happily drink all of them.
Many claim that this recipe has been dumbed down. We still think it’s a fine drink, refreshing and spicy. It’s on this list because we’ve successfully tried it on people who don’t really drink beer at all, and it’s generally gone down well because of its unusual flavour. Of course, other wits would do the same job — one of our favourites is St Bernardus Wit — but Hoegaarden is much more widely available, so better suits the specifications of this challenge.
Brooklyn Lager, 5.2%
We’ve posted of our love of this before. This is one to give the “premium-lager” lovers to blow their minds. Ale fans will also find plenty to appreciate with its full malt flavour and tangible hops. It’s just a beautiful, well-crafted beer.
St Austell, “Proper Job” IPA, 5.5%
Lots of people think that British ale has to be brown and flat. This beer is for them. It’s a lovely pale brew that sparkles in the glass, and has a wonderful hop aroma and flavour, without being overly bitter. The reason why we’ve selected this in particular from the many great British pale ales is that it seems to work really well in bottles. We might select Meantime IPA instead, as this seems to be exported more, but it’s a lot more “extreme” and difficult to digest.
Schneider Weisse 5.4%
We wanted to include a German Weissbier because it’s such an interesting and distinct style, and this is our favourite. It’s not as sickly as many of the others, and the banana flavour is there without being overpowering. We’ve found that a nice Weissbier often goes down well with lager-lovers – it’s cold and fizzy, after all.
Fuller’s London Porter, 5.4%
This is for the Guinness lovers, to show them what dark beer should be about. It’s a splendid mix of chocolate, fruits, coffee-roastiness and liquorice. It works pretty well in bottles, but is wonderful on cask. In terms of richness and complexity, it beats many Belgian beers with twice the strength. Our decision to include this is possibly influenced by the fact that this is Boak’s favourite beer.
Triple Karmeliet, 8.4%
We would have this one in reserve, to finish off the evening. It has the seductive sweetness and comfort of Leffe, but has more depth of flavour and is, frankly, a bit more credible. It’s not the most complex Belgian beer, but it’s very consistent, and is a great introduction to strong Belgian beers. Pour with a big head and take large gulps to appreciate the rounded, fruity flavours.
We thought a lot about including a fruit beer. We decided not to in the end, much as we like them, as we were assuming that the point of this exercise was to introduce a newcomer to good beer. We’ve given non-beer drinkers Fruli before, and they enjoy it, but that doesn’t mean that they suddenly “convert” to liking beer.
We had a similar debate with chocolate beers. The problem here is that the chocolate beers we like are on the subtle side. We once gave a non-beer-drinker some Meantime Chocolate to try, and they couldn’t taste the chocolate at all. “Urgh – it tastes like beer!” they said.
If you’ve read this far,you may be interested in reading about some real tastings – Tandleman introduced a number of GBBF visitors to bottle-conditioned beers (although he didn’t choose them), and Wilson at Brewvana organised a tasting session for women, with very interesting results.
What would you choose?