How To Introduce Your Friends to Craft Beer
22oz bottles. Cases. Cans. Kegs. Growlers. Beer comes in lots of packages. But it’s the 6-pack that’s ubiquitous. It’s also a great way to organize beers. A 6-pack of my favorites. A 6-pack of beers to try when you visit Philly. A 6-pack of beers that I was excited to buy before they were bought by ABInbev. But my favorite is a 6-pack of beers to introduce a new drinker to craft?
The craft beer world is a pretty insulated place. It seems hard to believe, but there are plenty of people who don’t have a favorite local brewery or don’t know the difference between an IPA and a saison. It’s true — most people have never drank a craft beer. I know! Crazy, right?
And I don’t like that one bit! I want everyone to love these amazing beers with incredible backstories from phenomenal entrepreneurs and brewers. Luckily, working in the industry, I get plenty of opportunities to introduce craft beer to the uninitiated.
When I meet new people and tell them what I do, they invariably ask me what craft beers should they try? “Yuengling, right? Or maybe Blue Moon? I love Guinness.” Ok, so many this’ll be a little harder than I thought…
With this in mind, I’ve come up with a 6-pack of beers that I’ve found works really well for helping people understand what craft beer is all about. While it may not include the beers I drink with my homebrew buddies, remember that the goal here is to showcase various styles of beer, different sized breweries, and even geographical diversity. Maybe I’ll even change the mind of the person who says, “I don’t like beer.”
This list has the added benefit of including beers that can be found pretty much anywhere. Obviously, depending on where you live, it may make sense to swap out a couple of these for local breweries. But, I hope that this at least gives you a starting point for creating new craft beer geeks out of your friends!
ABV’s Craft Beer Introduction 6-Pack
- Allagash White: For the person who loves Blue Moon, this brew gives them a taste of what a true Belgian wit should taste like. Allagash is one of my favorite breweries, and this beer in particular is extremely approachable for someone not ready to immerse themselves into the world of DIPAs.
- Left Hand Milk Stout: I love giving this beer to someone who thinks that Guinness is the be-all-end-all. It’s rich and creamy. It’s big, but unlike a lot of other stouts, it’s not overly roasty. And, especially with the nitro version, is extremely smooth. Perfect for someone who may not be too comfortable with dark beers.
- Unibroue Fin Du Monde: Because of its sweetness and the minimal role that hops play in Belgain abbey-style ales, I’ve found that it’s a style that’s very popular with those new to craft beer. While there are countless great examples of this style (Ommegang, Westmalle, Chimay come to mind), Fin Du Monde has the added advantage of a great name and label, which truly is an important aspect of craft beer.
- Weinstephaner Hefeweizen: I’ll admit that I enjoy giving this to craft newbies in part due to the look on the face when they try to read the name. But, this beer is sensational. It’s always in my fridge as a go-to when I want something light and refreshing. Plus, this German brewery is the world’s oldest and is approaching it’s Millenial anniversary, which is extremely cool!
- Samuel Adams Boston Lager: I love Boston Lager. It was my first craft beer. 15 years after drinking it for the first time, I had the fortune of working at Boston Beer Company. And, I think Jim Koch is one of the most incredible people I’ve ever had the opportunity to learn from. I couldn’t imagine making this list without this staple of craft beer. Not only that, but it fits in very nicely as a more middle of the road beer in terms of hoppiness, “weight” and color with a couple of wheat beers, a stout and a tripel already in the pack. Plus, it allows me to explain the difference between a lager and an ale.
- Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA: This is the beer I’ll finish with. Yes, IPAs scare first-timers. But, you haven’t been introduced to craft beer until you’ve at least tried an IPA. While I live on the East Coast and there are plenty of amazing IPAs close to home (including, of course, Dogfish 60 Minute IPA and The Alchemist’s Heady Topper), I’d be remiss not to have a West Coast IPA in this pack. Since Constellation’s Ballast Point Sculpin is sadly now off my list, I’ll go with Racer 5. While it is a big hoppy beer, it was the one that originally changed my tune on IPAs as the big citrusy bitter notes from the hops is well-balanced by a strong malt backbone.
Let us know what you think. What’s your ideal 6-pack for introducing your friends to craft beer?
ABV Consulting, Inc., a marketing agency focused exclusively on craft beer