Hello, first post here. Please excuse the length. I sincerely want some help. I hope I’m following etiquette. Here’s a little “beer profile” info on me: I’m 50 years old, starting drinking Belgian beers 25 years ago. An educated friend would take me to Louisiana from our college in Mississippi to buy all the great beers that couldn’t be sold in MS at that time. Over a 5 year period I became a Belgian beer addict. I tried every Belgian I could get my hands on. I love so many, but I lean toward Tripels. I like a beer that explodes in floral, fruity (but not Lambic), sweet, “complex” (does that term matter anymore?), rich…and then cuts off with the PERFECT hop balance at the end. I like it to start sweet and finish clean and dry. All I want from hops (I don’t brew so please excuse my Neanderthal vocabulary) is a counterweight to the sweet/fruity. I want just enough bitterness to place a period at the end.
About 20 years ago I got completely away from ALL alcohol. Last year I came back to it. OH MAN! I was so thrilled to find I’d awoken from a long sleep into a new reality absolutely chock full of BEER!! I used to have to drive 200 miles to find a Duvel. Now I could go to the gas station and choose from such an array of imported and CRAFT beer my head started to spin! The laws in MS changed in 2011, so now the world of beers was my oyster!
And then I started sampling. No, wait…the more accurate statement is: And then I started flushing money down the toilet. Seems in my 20 year hiatus from beer, there was a new King…indeed, a new Deity: The almighty HOP. Suddenly every “craft” beer I tried was like chewing on a grapefruit peel. I tried something from Founders at a restaurant one night that I honestly thought had been mixed with some kind of floor/toilet cleaner. It didn’t even taste like beer. “This can’t be intentional,” I thought. Have you ever accidentally gotten anti-perspirant on your tongue (only those who answer Yes can even imagine how that happens). Well, that’s what this…liquid…was like.
It’s just a fact of modern American life: Bitter beer is all the rage. It’s out of control. So…how can I stay away from it? How can I continue to expand my beer horizons without stacking up 5-packs in my pantry? My wife basically ordered me last night to stop “experimenting.” She told me to stock up on Belgians, American-made Belgians, tried-and-true Stouts and Porters (I love Samuel Smith Imperial Stout), a few good English ales, Oktoberfests and just be done with it. That’s fine and good, but it sure takes the fun out of it.
I guess I’m asking that likely tiny minority among the beer aficianados who don’t like bitter: is there a list of beers on “my” end of the spectrum? Anyone like me who might have some recommendations?
It so happens that my Master’s thesis advisor is from the Pacific Northwest, and he hates hops and bitterness. So I do have some experience in finding beers for a palate that might be similar to yours.
As you have already found out, Belgians are a good start for you.
IPAs in recent years have started to become more “New Englandy” and both hazier and sweeter (due to more dryhopping, more oats, lactose, etc). Those examples might still fit your palate, even if a more classic West Coast IPA does not.
Also, why not try a good old Hefeweizen? I’m sure there are some nice examples in your area, or at least imported ones.
I have tried Magnolia Southern Pecan, as it’s reputed one of the better
Mississippi brews. And I like it very much. It’s not a beer I can drink
often, but it’s certainly a good choice for certain situations. Thank you!
This seems good advice, thank you. I haven’t tried many brown/English-style
ales I haven’t liked. I love the smoothness…the malty character. It’s
what I think of as “richness.” Others may have a different definition. In
rock guitar there is an archetypical tone called “brown sound.” Eddie Van
Halen made it famous. I think I’m looking for “brown sound” in the taste of
beer, lol! FWIW, one of my absolute favorites is Samuel Smith Imperial
Stout. In fact, at this moment I would call it the perfect beer.
Tonight…right now, in fact…i’m trying a beer called Hell Hath No Fury,
by Bell’s. It’s REALLY GOOD. I love the marriage of porter/stout with the
floral character of a Belgian dubbel. I’m just on my first one - and I
didn’t exactly love the price of $18 USD for a sixer - but it’s surely
Kind of proving a point there, Craig. Sam Smith don’t make anything big, flashy, or dramatic: they just make a simple line-up very, very well, that delivers on the everyday drinking experience. There’s lots of other breweries providing the flashy and big, Sam does the quiet and daily.
There’s also the other side of the beer experience coin - do you drink a double digit ABV every day, or do you normally reach for a 4% to 5% everyday drinker? Sam’s does really well on the everyday drinkers, IMHO, but I have been out of the UK drinking scene for over a decade, been too busy with US craft beer instead
I mean absolutely no disrespect or even criticism, but I don’t relate to
generalizing by brewer. “They are in the lowest third.” Do you mean the
brewer? The beers by that brewer you’ve tried? All their beers? It goes
against all I think I know about beer to rate brewers so generally rather
than rate a specific beer. I was very specific about the beer in this case:
Sam Smith Imperial Stout. It’s so good to me that I honestly cannot
conceive of a real beer lover not liking it. But both who replied
generalized “Sam Smith” - one very enthusiastically, the other not so much.
I agree/disagree with neither/both. IMO, some of Sam Smith’s beers are
fantastic, while others range from not noteworthy to downright bad. But
this is true for every single brewer I’ve ever patronized. I recall well
when Sam Adams wasn’t a colossus. Beer aficianodos were impressed. Nowadays
no serious beer drinker wants to be seen with one. Devotees don’t want to
admit it, but there’s a direct correlation between accessibility and
desirability. If you have to cross the Seven Seas and climb mountains on
hands and knees it’s gold. If you can buy it where you get your gas it’s
crap. I like a beer or I don’t like a beer. Most of the time I’m only
marginally aware of who made it. Because I don’t care. Bell’s Porter? Eh.
Bell’s Hell Hath No Fury? Fanfreakintastic. It’s what Bro Thelonious wanted
to be. Chimay blue/Grande Reserve? It’ll do. Chimay white/Cinq Cents?
Proverbial nectar of the gods. Again, not being critical. Every palette is
Can you recommend an English or English-style stout that’s better than
Imperial? One that I can likely find?
This whole “better/worse” debate is overrated itself. Don’t you agree? The
reason is beauty and the eye of the beholder and all that. I’m convinced
that peoples’ tastes are so different that what you taste in a beer isn’t
what I do. There are times when I ask my wife to taste a beer I’m drinking
and it’s just as clear as crystal that the message her tongue is sending
her brain is simply not the same as mine. I think this is especially true
where the primary flavors are concerned, such as bitterness, sweetness,
But I’d love to find a stout better than Sam Smith’s Imperial, because to
my taste buds that beer is darn near perfect. I recently tried Ole Rasputin
on a recommendation and I can’t drink it. The front end is glorious - rich,
creamy, coffee, chocolate, some dark fruit…“oh yeah,” I
thought…gulp…“well darn!” The finish just couldn’t leave well enough
alone! They couldn’t resist the urge to make this brew part of parcel of
the bitterness revolution. Such awesome potential…spoiled at the end.
oh totally half the fun at a tasting is the differences of opinion, im also far less likely to comment on a single beer than a brewer. and there only a handful of uk brewers i might respond to in the way i did as there on a snall list of brewers im likely to ignore even if I’ve not haf that particular beer
Sam Smiths got their big American reputation from Michael Jackson - he was fond of them for some reason, and wrote about them. They were commissioned to brew and export beers to America based on Michael Jackson’s focus on them in his World Guide To Beer. They brewed the first modern Oat Stout (which is typical Sam Smith - a bland stout - go figure!). Sam Smiths are not regarded as a decent brewery in the UK. Sam Smiths beers are about on a par with Newcastle Brown Ale. They are drinkable but ordinary and boring. Great pubs. Shame about the beer.
I understand your thinking and your reluctance to see this, however I would put the brewery first in all considerations. The style of a beer is a false truth to hold onto, because one brewery’s porter is another brewery’s stout. One brewery’s idea of IPA is another brewery’s idea of a kolsch.
The brewery who made the beer is the best indicator you can have of the quality, flavour and style of a beer. Indeed, you can go further, and start talking in terms of entire countries. Beer brewed in Belgian is (broadly speaking) quite identifiable and recognisable and different to the beer generally brewed in Germany which is different to the beer generally brewed in Britain which is different to beer brewed in America, etc. And even then you can break it down. Traditional regional breweries in Britain brew very different beer to modern British craft breweries. Modern British craft breweries are making American style beers - that is beers which are made from throwaway lab yeast, which follow the BJCP style guide, and which focus on flavourings (such as hops or coffee) rather than the marriage of yeast and malt, while the traditional regional breweries are making more traditional older malt accented beers - which some modern minded beer drinks regard as “boring brown beers” because they lack modern citric hops.
“[Michael Jackson] was fond of them for some reason, and wrote about them.”
IMO, he was fond of them because they are good. We may not agree with his
selections, but the man certainly made a name for himself in beer. I’d say
his judgment is as valid as any.
“Sam Smiths are not regarded as a decent brewery in the UK”
I’ve never understood this metric. The most popular beer in the UK is
Budweiser. What does that say? I find most SS beer to be less than
exciting, but IMO there’s nothing the least bit “boring” about their
Imperial Stout. That’s my point about not generalizing among brewers. I’ve
never found a brewer with an entire product line I like. But most brewers
make something I like. Making good beer isn’t a secret art form. I’m
certain Anheuser Busch could make something every bit the equal of the most
desired brews on the planet. They don’t because quality and desirability -
to say nothing of profitability - are only marginally related.
yeah. but ive had brewers(on the whole) i can see and appreciate the whole range even though i may not like them all. i can see why others might like them, and then ive had others i just can’t see why it would appeal.
oh im all for drink what you want i know people that have tried 100+ beers and they still say theyd rather tennents lager. im cool with that. Id rather there money went to some little guy, but im all for drink what you enjoy.
but still for me, i dont understand the appeal of sam smiths for the generic beer geek. if that’s your bag. go for it. but i think on the whole for me there not that great, and your right no one brewery always hits the mark, but some have better hit rate than others and some even the misses for me i can appreciate why others might be wowed