I saw a good question posted by The Craft Beer Co the other day which asked its followers-
‘If you were to introduce somebody to craft beer which beer would you start them off with?’
To be honest I was struggling with this question and it got me thinking, doesn’t it completely depend on the drinker’s taste? What beers do they normally like? Hoppy, malty, bitter, fruity, herby, weak, strong, lagers, ales, the list goes on. I know the reasons that I like craft beer are of course the taste and in some cases a sense of exclusivity but ultimately I know that a lot of love and attention has gone into the making and it’s not going to give me a bad hangover. Also how do you make a decision that is unbiased because naturally you are going to choose your favourite beer. Having seen a few of my friends’ faces scrunch up when I tell them to ‘try a sip of this’ when attempting to convert them to IPA’s, I have had to accept the fact that not everyone’s taste is the same as mine and that when making the move from lager to ale it may be best to start with something less drastic. I can’t possibly suggest one beer, so what I have decided to do is make a list of beers according to type and flavour to give you an idea and I guarantee that you will find something you like.
Meantime London Pale Ale 4.3% ABV- if you are more into your lagers than your ales, this would be a good way to make the transition. Hoppy and malty, light and easy to drink. Being the largest and most successful craft beer brewery in London, this tends to be the beer of choice for pubs that may have one or two token craft beers on tap and fancy restaurants. If you find this too strong then man up but a Camden Pale Ale would probably suit you better. Similar to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Thornbridge Jaipur India Pale Ale 5.9% ABV- A cask ale that has lasted the course. For anyone wanting to make the jump into IPAs look no further. Very hoppy and citrusy and not overwhelmingly bitter. The perfect introduction to craft IPAs.
Partizan Citra– The brewery that changed my life. Partizan change their beers every few weeks and are constantly experimenting. Citras tend to be very fruity and not quite as intense as IPAs but with as much flavour. Other regulars beers are grisettes, saisons, simcoes, pale ales, IPAs and porters. All delicious. My suggestion is you get down to their brewery one Saturday afternoon and try them all!
Thornbridge Wild Raven – Black IPA 6.6% ABV- my favourite type of craft beer, partly because the taste still always surprises me, (hard not to think of Guinness when looking at it). Malty and hoppy but maintaining the bitterness and fruitiness of lighter IPAs
If you are ready to step it up a level-
Arbor Ales Monsoon Saison 6.4% ABV- modern saisons tend to be fruity and spicy. This particular saison is flavoured with coriander and cardamon. For the more adventurous. Similar to Hoegaarden
Beavertown Gamma Ray American Pale Ale 5.4% ABV- quickly becoming a must have at any pub serving craft beer. One of my personal favourites, very hoppy, bitter, fruity and strong. Similar to Brewdog Punk IPA, also very good.
Brewdog Cocoa Psycho– a 10% stout which will pretty much blow your head off. Intense coffee and chocolate flavours,
Double IPA- a type of beer. As the name suggests, pretty much twice the flavour and twice the strength of a single IPA. If you can find one on draft then this is a bonus, otherwise Myrcenary Double IPA by Odell Brewing Co 9.3% or Holy Hoppin Hell by Weird Beird 9.7% will do nicely, both in bottles
Other breweries of note-
The Wild Beer Co