Writing about what feeds me.

Choose Wisely… (Beginner beer-drinkers’ alternatives)

Honestly, choosing beer (or any drink for that matter) is not so serious.  If you like what you like, then cool!  While I won’t deny that I can adopt a snob-nose on occasion, I have purposely gone out of my way to broaden my palate to appreciate just about anything that will “do the job” (did someone say “$1.39 Steel Reserve tall boys” – why the hell not?).

Beer is hardly an area I claim any expertise in, but I can tell you that my taste for it has developed far beyond my early college years when Corona was my intro beer and the only one I could bear the taste of (probably cause it almost tastes like water! haha).  If you want a lesson in craft beers and such, I won’t provide one here.  In fact, I’d be happy if anyone wants to share one with ME!

Instead, what I want to offer here is a simple “guide” to some obvious or not-so-obvious, easy-drinking beers you can find at your local deli/beer/wine shop or at the dive down the street.  I’ll probably do a Canadian beer review later just for the heck of it, but for now, check out some of these simple “alternatives*” to your usual Bud.

* Disclaimer: By far not the BEST beers out there, but if you have some suggestions for me to add to this list, feel free to share!

– Newcastle Brown Ale
I used to only drink this every once in awhile, but after my sister (who once hated beer, but just recently acquired a taste for it) commented on how flavorful this ale is, I’ve given it a little more attention.  The color is evident immediately due to the clear bottle.  It is fuller in taste than any light beer, but not as assertive at a stout/dark beer.  With Newcastle, you’ll get a nice middle ground in terms of body.  You might even argue it has a fruity, nutty taste.  But, why argue about beer – just drink it!

– Dos Equis 
If you’re like how I was when I first started drinking beer and your easy go-to is Corona (I still find it refreshing, especially on a hot day), you might want to try this one out.  Throw a slice of lime in a bottle of Dos Equis and you’ll get a lot more flavor than you might expect.  There is an amber version which is not bad either.  Feeling even more adventurous?  I recommend you try ALL the Spanish-named beers next time you’re at the Tex-Mex spot:  Modelo, Pacifico, Tecate, etc.  They’re all not that bad; just see which one you like.  Corona is so run-of-the-mill, you’re likely to find it in the cooler at the next cookout in case you really miss it.
 – Shiner Bock

Shiner, Texas.  They do it big in this state, as is commonly believed, but this beer won’t bowl you over, but it should definitely satisfy.  It won’t overwhelm you with hoppiness  either (hoppy = bitter, more or less).  It’s a special beer to Texans and can be your new special brew as well, if you so choose… AND, when the holidays roll around, check out their apricot-y “Shiner Cheer!” seasonal brew.  I feel like that one has potential to be a general crowd pleaser.

– Hoegaarden

I’ll never forget the first time I tried this beer.  I was at a bar on U street in Washington, D.C.  The beer was served in a “chalice”-like glass and had a lemon wedge in it.  The refreshing, citrus flavor washed over my tongue like a cool ocean wave, waking me from my near drunken state.  If you’ve ever tried a hefeweizen-style beer or Blue Moon, I think you’ll really enjoy this Belgian witbeir.  It is great even without the lemon, but for me, it’s best served in the hexagonal glass (pictured), citrus fruit included.

– Magic Hat #9

These next two are beers I’ve commonly seen on tap (draft) lately.  Mind you, I haven’t been to too many bars, but I feel like typically you can find this one or the following.  If you’re really new to beer or you generally think most beers are bitter, definitely stray away from anything labeled “pale ale”.  These beers are characterized by their hoppy flavor, i.e. bitterness.  Magic Hat #9 is sort of an exception.  While it doesn’t claim to be a full-on pale ale, it has a fairly assertive fruit-forward aroma and a distinct taste you might enjoy.  I know that I do!

– Stella Artois

This ubiquitous Belgian beer has a classiness to it, clearly exhibited by its supposed 9-step pouring process.  It’s pretty much BS though, especially if you drink it out of the bottle haha.  I just rediscovered this at the Costco after seeing it on sale for basically $1/bottle.  I honestly got bored of it before, but it’s quite refreshing and reliably easy to drink without being watery and flavorless.  I’d be surprised to see this leave the common draft rotation at any typical bar, so if you haven’t given this a try yet, what are you waiting for??
NOTE: Although Belgian like Hoegaarden,  this lager is very different.

– Heineken Light

Growing up, all I would ever see my Asian family and relatives drink at functions and gatherings was the obligatory, green-bottled Heiny.   I used to think it tasted like piss (and it probably still does), so I was delightfully surprised to find that the “light” version of this German beer is quite agreeable.  If you’re in need of providing your guests with a light beer alternative at your next party, skip the Miller and Coors versions and go with this one.  Seriously, it’s a pretty solid bet.


2 comments on “Choose Wisely… (Beginner beer-drinkers’ alternatives)

  1. Lee
    September 24, 2013

    what about Lao Beer…?

    • jnontanovan
      September 24, 2013

      It’s ok – if you’re sitting by the Mekong and eating spicy Lao food. =)

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This entry was posted on February 23, 2012 by in Beer and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
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