I'm not going to call craftbrew drinkers enlightened, or aleightened rather, but we're on our way. It's a journey, not a destination.
So, what were the gateway beers that helped to get you to a higher plane of flavor?
For me, it was Henry Weinhard's Private Reserve that lifted me from my collegiate-era 40oz King Cobra dabblings (the Cobra being traditionally consumed with a loaf of french bread to provide that maltiness lacking in the beer).
Adding Samuel Adams Stock Ale into the mix helped me understand the appeal of bittered ales. Took an unfortunate, but thankfully brief detour with Rolling Rock after college before coming around to the Trader Joe's line of Fat Weasel and Black Toad ales.
Learned a bit about oxidation from the many dusty brews stocked at TJ's at the time (circa 1995). Fell in love with ales of oh-so-dark color via the sweet and rich Mackeson Triple XXX Stout.
Around the same time, I was lucky enough to taste Blind Pig IPA at Vinnie's Temecula brewery and at that point I knew there was no going back. A true wortshed moment for me.
Great opener for a thread!
I'll bite. I drank Henry Weinhardt's when I was I think 15. I thought it was delicious at the time. I haven't tried it since, should I? Ratings indicate it's pretty meh these days.
In my pre-drinking age teens I drank the cheep stuff, Carlin's black label, Strohs, Heidelburg etc. Less than $4 a twelvesky. That's what you want when you're too young to drink legally.
At 21 I got lucky and started to actually enjoy some decent beers. Back in the day, Becks and some of the imports were actually pretty good. That was back in the dark ages of American beers...
When I was broke and in school, I switched to cheep malt liquor. I'll still drink it, FWIW, but obviously my tastes have evolved and I prefer "craft" beer these days. Still though, I do sometimes work construction with my brother, and after you've been pounding nails, laying metal roofing panels, or slinging trusses all day, you're not exactly going to drink wine and eat cheese
afterwords... HELL NO! You have a forty, and IIPAs/RISs don't come in 40's.
Sam Adams Lager helped me to appreciate hoppy lagers.
Then the breaking point came when I was in the military. I had plenty of time and money to try new things. Now while I've always liked to try new beers, the big difference was doing reviews. Now I'm hooked on reviewing, and as always, trying to try something new every time I try a commercial beer.
The IPA rush came from drinking Stone IPA. I wasn't that into IPAs, thinking them to be too bitter per flavor ratio, preferring Belgians etc. Then I had a Stone IPA. Delicious! After that I started trying more IPAs and realized that they really were delicious, and not just overly bitter. There are just a lot of examples to choose from, apparently it's the preferred style if you're trying to break into the craft beer market!
RIS, Belgians, sours, wild ales, and other such beers I've loved along the way at various times. Did I mention that RR wild ales kick ass?
Now I'm a homebrewer, but still enjoy the evolving craft beer market. I'll buy some, drink some, and brew some.
Beer is good. Fin.