"Noob’s" beer guide

Over on Slashfood Sarah Gim has blogged about "Learning to Drink Beer". I had to comment, of course, but first, a review of the beers she tried:

  • Tecate and Corona: needs lime, otherwise just "okay."
  • Samuel Adams: bitter, had to add lime.
  • Pilsner-Urquell: skunky. Becoming suspicious of green bottles.
  • Miller Genuine Draft: best of her picks.

Okay, not a terrible list for a first-timer (I like that she tried Pilsner, even though it sounds like it was skunked). Here’s the comment I left, which I think could stand fairly well for any first-timer to use as a guideline:

Beers that come in green or clear bottles tend to be skunked—that is, exposure to sunlight and even excessive fluorescent lighting initiate chemical changes which give it the skunky smell and off-flavor. If they’re stored properly (i.e., cool and dark), there should be no problem, but in the real world… be warned.

My picks, to branch out:

  • As others said, avoid generic American lagers. If you must, however, drink Pabst :)
  • Lindemans Framboise Lambic. You won’t even know it’s beer.
  • Widmer Hefeweizen. Lemon wedge optional. It’s a good introduction to American microbrews.
  • Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar. A bit darker, with a delicious and unusual nutty flavor.
  • Big Sky Moose Drool. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s a very drinkable brown ale from Montana.

When you’re ready to explore the darker and heavier stuff, Guinness is a good start.

If I were to add to the list, I’d probably reference some other fruit beers (Pyramid Apricot Ale, for instance) and some additional microbrewed lighter beers to offset the generic stuff: Deschutes Cascade Ale, perhaps, or Fat Tire Sunshine Wheat. Yeah.


  1. You, sir, have a gentle heart to give such kind suggestions to beer n00bs. Me, I’d do something cruel like recommend Summit IPA, to be followed up by Red Hook ESB.

    Now, I love and worship a good bitter beer, but nothing can kill a beer novice as quickly as hops.

    PBR is definitely my top choice when it comes to bad American beer. Also making the list are "Rain Beer" Rainier and Grain Belt Premium.

    Grain Belt ain’t nuttin’ special, but there’s nothing more Minnesotan than walking up to a bar in the northwoods, slapping the bar with the the palm of your hand twice, holding up two fingers, and shouting, "Two Primos! Two Primos!"

    True dat on the Guinness, though I hardly consider Guinness as beer. It’s actually a food group.

  2. I couldn’t recommend Pabst to anyone. Not even someone who was already drooling drunk. Henry’s is a great cheap "domestic", and at $6.99 a twelve-pack, you can’t afford NOT to try it.

  3. Dane: Right, hops are out for noobs. That’s why I tried to avoid them 🙂 And I’d consider most good stouts and porters their own food group, not just Guinness 🙂

    pril: Henry’s! Right, forgot. They make decent beer. I won’t retract my Pabst recommendation, though 🙂

  4. I saw Guinnes on the FDA’s food pyramid! I think there’s a liquid bread subcategory.

    While hops can scare of noobs, so, too can malty beers, like Oktoberfest. Ditto for overly sweet beers, like Belgian Wit.

    Great list to try though. I’ll have to keep my eye out for a few of them.

  5. Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar = all kinds of awesome.
    The Widmer Hef is excellent, certainly close to authentic, but I just had some Weihenstephaner and it reminded me why I want to go back to Germany sometime soon.

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