Boy, do I hear this one often. “I don’t like dark beers. They’re too _____”, with the blank most often filled with the words, “bitter”, “smoky”, or, “overwhelming”.
Besides the tradtional Czech lager and its descendants in America and Germany, there is no greater or more palatable beer than a delicious stout or porter–especially during the cold seasons. Most people attribute the strength of taste in a stout-style beer to its name: “It’s stout, right, it’s strong because it says so!”
Wrong. And you are suffering as a drinker for it. Most stouts are an ace more sophisticated than an average American Lager, that is true. Dark malts and specialty grains do that to a beer. Sophistication, however, is not the same as effusiveness, which admittedly does turn a lot of drinkers off. Here’s a rule of thumb for you when you are looking to branch out from your tested favorite: avoid the word, “Imperial”. Imperial stouts have a regal name, and are brewed to be a royal challenge to a drinker. Seasoned beer athletes will regularly challenge themselves to face down these mighty beasts, and successful drinkers will often prove their mettle by facing down these gargantuans.
Although it is one of the most ubiquitous beers in the world, Guinness Dry Irish Stout may be your best bet for cracking into a new style. It is light (sic), cheerful, and delicious with a small snack–say, buttered bread. Pairings and your setting help quite a bit in making your beer drinking escapades more enjoyable and successful, so consider it your daily gift, and let us re-convene after this weekend to talk more about the Mise and how it can help you enjoy beer even more.