Wow, I must be weird. I didn't get into 'craft' beers until after I had started homebrewing. ...
Then I guess even weirder... my very first
beers were my "gateway" beers and fueled my desire to try brewing.
While as a kid I was permitted by my Dad to have a few sips and eventually a very
small glass of his Ballantine Ale
or Kruger Pils
with dinner, the very first sixpack I ever bought for myself in the late 1960s was a bock beer...and the second one was an IPA (not knowing the significance of either one at the time). Those spoiled me for good and all, and as a result when I eventually got to college I didn't much care for the comparatively bland stuff my friends were drinking. My go-to beers during those college years included Aas Juleol, Lowenbrau Maerzen, Prior Double Dark, Yuengling Porter, and of course Ballantine XXX, Ballantine IPA.
So I had my gateways pretty much right out of the gate
Ten years later when the "craft" movement began rolling in, I was ready for it!
I took a lot of ribbing during my college years for my strange beer choices (and especially for paying more for beer than they were), but now most surviving members of my old crew with whom I still talk profess to being craft beer afficianados. They also finally seem to "get it" that there was indeed some good beer around in the so called "dark ages" B.C. (before craft).
So now, I get to rib them
with a satisfying "I told you so". LOL