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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: drjones on May 14, 2013, 04:51:53 PM

Title: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: drjones on May 14, 2013, 04:51:53 PM
The question we all dread - "Do you have something light?"  So, what to do for your non-craft beer buddies?  I continue to be surprised that such folks are happy to drink what I consider a rather flavorless pseudo Berliner Weisse I made a while back.  This very light (ca. 3.5%ABV) ale was made with 8% acidulated malt, a 2-row base, a dash of cara-pils and US-05 dry yeast.  I find it pretty close to water, but these American light lager drinkers seem to enjoy it.  What are your own experiences appealing to their curious palates?
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: morticaixavier on May 14, 2013, 04:53:27 PM
Kolsch, Amber ales, Ordinary Bitter, Steam beers

or really mix it up and serve a big chewy barley wine mixed half and half with soda water.
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: erockrph on May 14, 2013, 06:14:47 PM
For my summer BBQ last year I brewed 5 gallons of a light wheat beer for the light beer crowd. They drank all my IPA instead and I was left with 2 cases of beer I didn't want. This year I'm saying "screw it, you can drink what I have". I guess I'm lucky that most of my family and friends like good beer. I might get a 12-rack of Harpoon Summer Ale in addition just in case, but I don't mind getting stuck with that.
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: leejoreilly on May 14, 2013, 06:26:41 PM
I always keep a version for my Pale Ale on tap #1. It's got an ABV of about 5% or so, an SRM of 10, and maybe 40 IBUs. It's a good tasty beer, it's my wife's favorite (very important point - "If Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy"), and it's not too threatening for the MBC crowd. I think the term "pale" incites some confidence that I'm not going to challenge their palates too much. It's so well received that I find I have to brew it about every third or fourth brew session so I don't run out. To keep my interest, I'll play around with the hops types and mix, but the basic recipe stays pretty much the same aside from that.
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: jeffy on May 14, 2013, 06:44:56 PM
I make 10 gallons of Belgian Witbier every year and put poblano peppers on half.  Both of these are very popular with friends who wouldn't ordinarily drink IPA's.  I find the pepper beer a great lawn mower beer, flavorful and refreshing.
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: drjones on May 14, 2013, 07:03:42 PM
Jeff, how do you usually add the Poblanos?  Fresh or dried, whole or ground, into the boil or secondary?  Sounds interesting!
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: HoosierBrew on May 14, 2013, 07:09:48 PM
For my summer BBQ last year I brewed 5 gallons of a light wheat beer for the light beer crowd. They drank all my IPA instead and I was left with 2 cases of beer I didn't want. This year I'm saying "screw it, you can drink what I have". I guess I'm lucky that most of my family and friends like good beer. I might get a 12-rack of Harpoon Summer Ale in addition just in case, but I don't mind getting stuck with that.
I totally agree.  I brew what I want now for parties and tell everyone to bring whatever beer they like in case they don't want the style(s) I have on tap. If they like mine (and usually do) then they're welcome to all they want. Everybody's happy.
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: gsandel on May 14, 2013, 07:13:43 PM
I hate to waste beer on the BMC crowd.  Helles, Maibock, Am Wheat, Blonde, Kolsch are all good choices, though.
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: nateo on May 14, 2013, 07:17:06 PM
My neighbor used to be a hardcore Bud lite drinker, but he loves my Berliner Weisse. Sometimes, people surprise you.
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: HoosierBrew on May 14, 2013, 07:23:32 PM
I'm lucky to have friends that are pretty beer savvy, with a few exceptions. And a couple of the BMC drinkers have slowly converted to craft along the way.
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: skyler on May 14, 2013, 09:10:36 PM
I have a lot of friends who simultaneously don't actually like flavorful beer very much and know enough about beer geekery to turn down ambers, blonds, bitters, wits, and wheat beers. They typically drink tecate or PBR or really any BMC-like beer that doesn't explicitly say "Bud," "Miller," or "Coors" on the label. Yes, the bay area really is that pretentious.

I find that Altbier, Oktoberfest, "Red Ale" (which is just what I call Amber Ale for them), and lighter-bodied and less hoppy American Pale Ales are popular with them.

Sometimes older people (40+) and non-beer-drinkers will dislike hop bitterness, but not know what that means, and assume that "light" in color means "light" in bitterness. On occasion, I can get them to try my porter, which is awesome and balanced and not particularly roasty. They usually love it and say "did you put chocolate/coffee in this?" and  "it doesn't taste like dark beer."

That said, the majority of the people I know who taste my beer are pretty sophisticated beer-drinkers and tend to prefer my IPAs, Black IPAs, Porters, and Trappist Styles. It is fairly rare for anyone to find my K├Âlsch, Altbier, Bitter, or Amber Ale offensive, as well.
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: jeffy on May 14, 2013, 09:16:09 PM
Jeff, how do you usually add the Poblanos?  Fresh or dried, whole or ground, into the boil or secondary?  Sounds interesting!
I roast the skin off fresh peppers with a burner, cut them up, seed them, cook them at 200 for 10 minutes to kill anything, and add them either to the secondary or to the keg.  2 or 3 per 5 gallons is plenty for flavor and aroma.  I add a half a habanero for heat.
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: tschmidlin on May 15, 2013, 05:56:51 AM
"Do you have something light?"
No. :)
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: tomsawyer on May 15, 2013, 01:24:13 PM
This spring I made a couple of decent American lagers that are being well received by non-hop-minded individuals.  They still have a nice malt flavor to them and barely enough hops to back that up.
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: gmac on May 15, 2013, 02:05:12 PM

older people (40+)

HEY!!!!  40+ isn't "older"!

Kolsch for my BMC friends.
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: hubie on May 15, 2013, 02:33:58 PM

older people (40+)

HEY!!!!  40+ isn't "older"!

Absolutely.  And get off my lawn!

I did a California Common once that went over real well.  I brought that and a blonde ale over to a company summer picnic, which also had Coronas and another BMC-type beer, and I was pleased to find that my beers were much preferred over the others.
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: ibru on May 15, 2013, 02:39:04 PM
Kolsch and Vienna Lager have been the two most popular of the beers I have on tap with the lite beer people. I am surprised at how some people who I thought were lite beer drinkers for life eventually come around to liking more flavorful beers.

I haven't found any connection with age and liking good beer. There are from my observation as many youngsters as there are people around my age (59) who are lite beer drinkers. I would guess the average age of people at the brew pubs that I frequent to be around 45. Would be an interesting study though.

Bruce
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: tcanova on May 15, 2013, 03:24:46 PM
I've really given up trying with my family.  There are a couple of my cousins who will try my beers but most are not interested. 

I know with my grandmother who is 89, she remembers her daddy making homemade beer, I guess a carry over from prohibition, and she thinks what I make is too strong and compares it to what he used to make.

I just let them drink the BMC and I keep the good stuff for myself.  ;)
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: tonyp on May 15, 2013, 03:26:48 PM
A cream ale is the lightest I've tried to make so far and it went over well. I think this summer i might make a blonde ale or a farmhouse.
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: drjones on May 15, 2013, 05:15:17 PM
Quote
Sometimes older people (40+) and non-beer-drinkers will dislike hop bitterness, but not know what that means, and assume that "light" in color means "light" in bitterness.
Ignoring the 40+ thing (I'm 49), I think this raises a good point.  What do people mean when they say "light"?  Most casual lager drinkers probably don't know themselves, but it seems it may be any of the following, probably in descending order of relevance:  color, bitterness, maltiness, calories, alcohol.  One of the things I love most about brewing is the range of possible expression and potential for creativity.  Want a straw-yellow, hopped-up, session beer - no problem.  How about a black, 15 IBU lager - why not!   
It makes me think back on my years in Cologne, ca. 1990.  Koelsch was king, of course, but as a beer novice I always found it a bit insipid (but nothing beat hanging out in an outdoor cafe drinking from those tall delicate glasses on a summer afternoon!).  Dusseldorf was nearby, but every time I'd order an Alt, I was disappointed by how bland it seemed for a "dark" beer.  I know a bit better now, but it helps me realize how confusing it can be to the "non-specialist."
Thanks for all the great recommendations.  I think I'll have to do a Koelsch soon for old times' sake and give that poor old Alt a second chance.  I suspect the neighbors will enjoy them both, and if they're lucky, I'll share the saison.
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: thatgeekguy on May 15, 2013, 05:28:08 PM
The last couple of extract kits with steeping grains I did were from the MoreBeer 'budget' series, a blonde and a porter. As a homebrewers and craft beer drinker, I was actually surprised at how well they came out for the price point. They have also been well received by BMC drinking neighbors and friends.

Though I've started doing all-grain now, it's good to know there are some inexpensive and quick extract brews I can throw together quickly if needed.
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: drjones on May 15, 2013, 05:38:27 PM
Quote
Though I've started doing all-grain now, it's good to know there are some inexpensive and quick extract brews I can throw together quickly if needed.
There's nothing better than doing a quickie kit beer after a couple of dozen all grain batches.  Feels like a holiday!
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: kylekohlmorgen on May 15, 2013, 05:56:33 PM
My neighbor used to be a hardcore Bud lite drinker, but he loves my Berliner Weisse. Sometimes, people surprise you.

Fruited sours are how I'm reeling in my wife. First Lindeman's, then a locally brewed Peach Berliner, now she digs my cherry Flanders.

At our wedding, I received a LOT of compliments from her family on my beer (a rich, chewy, coffee, chocolately, brown ale). I think the combination of familiar non-beer aromas/flavors, low bitterness, and moderate gravity was such a departure from what they know as beer that it allowed them to put their guard down and just enjoy the drink.

The celebration probably didn't hurt. Sometimes its all about reaching the right person at the right time.
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: corkybstewart on May 15, 2013, 07:03:33 PM


I haven't found any connection with age and liking good beer. There are from my observation as many youngsters as there are people around my age (59) who are lite beer drinkers. I would guess the average age of people at the brew pubs that I frequent to be around 45. Would be an interesting study though.

Bruce
Since pretty much all my friends are my age (40s and 50s) I can say that age isn't a factor at all.  My daughter's friends all drink good beer, my son's friend all drink BMC.
To the OP I say brew what you like and if the others don't like it they can bring their own.  At our annual Oktoberfest my rauchbier and the hefeweizen are always the most popular, even with BMC drinkers.  People who are unwilling to try homebrew always bring their own so I don't worry about them.
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: kylekohlmorgen on May 15, 2013, 08:24:31 PM
...To the OP I say brew what you like and if the others don't like it they can bring their own...

Its always nice to cater to your guests if you're the host, though.

I also think it's one hell of a feat for your beer to be someone's "Gateway Beer".

Its great to dial in a beer for my palate or to nail the style guideline, but its much more satisfying to receive a compliment like "I would pay money for this beer" from a BMC-loyal guest (esp. an in-law) than a BJCP judge. IMO.
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: skyler on May 16, 2013, 05:34:37 AM

older people (40+)

HEY!!!!  40+ isn't "older"!

Kolsch for my BMC friends.

I didn't mean to imply that people over 40 are OLD, just oldER than my wife (26) and me (29) and most of our friends.

And I don't in any way mean to say that people older than me don't know beer. Of course people over 40 are just as capable of knowing good beer (in many cases more capable, especially if they have had the opportunity to travel). I wasn't making that generalization, I was just discussing the people in my extended family and acquaintance circle over 40 and it came out wrong.

By the time I drank beer (college), there was a ton of craft beer of plenty of varieties at every bar in the town where I lived (Davis, CA). If I were 10-15 years older, there would have just been BMC, and maybe Bass Ale, Guinness, Heineken bottles, or Sam Adams or SNPA or maybe a domestic Hefeweizen in a good bar. It took being a real beer lover to get to know about great beer then and do develop that palate. I was lucky. My cousin (~45) still doesn't know that a stout is an ale.
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: Joe Sr. on May 16, 2013, 02:52:27 PM
I find that my tripels tend to be popular with people who don't usually drink a lot of craft beer.  For parties, I'll typically make a tripel and maybe a wheat beer of some sort.  I find that non-craft drinkers seem more likely to try it if it looks similar to BMC.

I also keep some Miller Lite on hand for those hard core folks.  I've been known to have one now and then after working outside all day.  If their IFC they go down like water.
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: nateo on May 16, 2013, 03:19:13 PM
I find that my tripels tend to be popular with people who don't usually drink a lot of craft beer.  For parties, I'll typically make a tripel and maybe a wheat beer of some sort.  I find that non-craft drinkers seem more likely to try it if it looks similar to BMC.

I was just thinking the same thing. Some Belgian styles are prized for being highly "digestible" (drinkable?). A well-made tripel should be pretty light, IMO. Many domestic commercial examples are too thick for me. I use a lot of sugar in mine, usually 25-30%.
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: corkybstewart on May 17, 2013, 05:08:27 AM
...To the OP I say brew what you like and if the others don't like it they can bring their own...

Its always nice to cater to your guests if you're the host, though.
But it really isn't possible to cater to everybody's tastes. 

Everybody we know understands the kind of beer that will be served at our house and reacts accordingly.  Some bring their Coors or Bud Lite, no problem for me and it's what they like.  They still have the option of trying any of the other beers, but they can also stay in their personal comfort zone if that's what suits them.  My boss brought a 12 pack(at least) of Budweiser to my house every time he came over, his wife loved my homebrew, everybody was happy.
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: Slowbrew on May 17, 2013, 01:30:36 PM
The last person who asked me for a lite beer got "Pour a half glass of something and there's a faucet over there.  Make it as lite as you have to."  They tried a Blonde at full strength and have never asked for lite beer at house again.

I've also  been know to tell people the light switch is by the door.

I make kolsch, blonde, farmhouse ales, American wheat and usually have at one on tap at anytime.  they find something they like.  Except that one guy who brings his own 12 pack of Coors Lite to every party.

Paul
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: HoosierBrew on May 17, 2013, 01:35:47 PM
...To the OP I say brew what you like and if the others don't like it they can bring their own...

Its always nice to cater to your guests if you're the host, though.
But it really isn't possible to cater to everybody's tastes. 

Everybody we know understands the kind of beer that will be served at our house and reacts accordingly.  Some bring their Coors or Bud Lite, no problem for me and it's what they like.  They still have the option of trying any of the other beers, but they can also stay in their personal comfort zone if that's what suits them.  My boss brought a 12 pack(at least) of Budweiser to my house every time he came over, his wife loved my homebrew, everybody was happy.
+1. 
Title: Re: Beers for the non-craft drinker
Post by: klickitat jim on May 17, 2013, 01:38:24 PM
I like it!  I might steal that and modify...

Sorry, I don't have any lite beer but there's some slim fast in the cupboard