To Beer Or Not To Beer (Part 1)

For those of you that haven’t met me, both in person and/or on the internet in some fashion, I am a wine lover. A wine appreciator. A wine indulger and some would even say wine worshipper. My fascination with wine began at a rather early age (you can drink at 18 in Canada, ok? Don’t judge me.), and the more I learned about it, the more the infatuation grew. The amount of work that goes into producing a particular varietal, the painstaking process of fermenting and aging and filtering wine, all of that hoping and praying that all of the work wouldn’t go to waste… It’s an overwhelmingly risky profession, making wine, and that’s why I have such adamant and profound respect for the people who do it well.

I may love wine more than I love most people.

I remember being at a tasting in Temecula, California with a few of my closest drunken friends, who weren’t loving the wine we were drinking that day. I was the only one in defense of the stuff, ranting and raving like a grape-loving loon about just how complicated it was to produce a pinot in that climate. My friend Ben, who has had the pleasure of knowing me for over ten years, said: “I don’t think Jewel’s ever met a wine she doesn’t like. If we were people-tasting, however….” How true, how true.

But one thing I’m not is prejudiced, against anyone and anything. I love a good vodka soda every once in a while, or a Mai-Tai when I’m lounging by the pool in Maui, and a taco night isn’t complete without a round of lime margaritas. To be honest, when it comes to food and drink, there isn’t much in this world I don’t like.

Except for one thing. Beer.

When I met my husband Matty 11 years ago, he was a beer-chugging party boy (he also had an affinity for wearing weird disco-era vintage shirts. He wooed me anyway.). Seriously, for the first few weeks of knowing him, I actually wondered if a bottle of Heineken had been surgically fused to his hand. Being one of those young dumb girls in love, I sweetly agreed to share pitchers of beer with him while we gazed into each other’s doe-eyes and tried my hardest not to burp. However, once the love-haze cleared and I realized he was there to stay, I finally put my foot down and told him it was Chardonnay or the highway. I was a wine-lover, damnit! I hated beer. It made me feel full and tired, it tasted skunky and nasty, and it sure as hell didn’t go with a cheese plate.

But here’s the thing: beer and wine ain’t so different. Contrary to what Ben thinks, there are some wines I do not enjoy. I’m not a fan of California Sauvignon Blancs, for example; they’re a little too bright and grassy for me. Or super sweet wines like most Rieslings produced in the US, which are a little too cloying for me. I can’t stand a big oaky Chardonnay, either, preferring ones fermented in stainless steel instead. So was I wrong to write off the entire world-wide inventory of beers out there? Was I just not educated enough to know and appreciate what types of beer I didย like? Was it possible that I just hated Heineken and had convinced my addled brain that any and all beer tasted like that? And if so, how positively booze racist of me!

So I set out on a task to find out. To become educated in the making and processing (?) of beer, to learn its intricacies and unlock its mysteries, for both me and the rest of us wine-loving folk out there. And let’s face it: us ladies sure do have a lot of stereotypes associated with us, one being that girls can’t and won’t enjoy beer because it’ll make us bloated or cause us to gain weight over time, which is my least favorite. Especially since all those Cosmos and Mai-Tais and margaritas have about as many calories as any pint of beer, if not more so. So let’s just do away with that ridiculous notion right here and now, shall we? (And for those of you girls who ARE concerned about a few pesky calories, do yourself a favor and get a gym membership so you can eat and drink everything your heart desires. Life’s too short for deprivation. Same goes for you guys, too.)

As a warm-up, and because I wanted to try this new bar regardless, my friend Kerry and I ventured to a little hovel in Echo Park called El Prado. Equally comforting was the fact that they weren’t just serving beer, there was wine there too in case we lost our nerve. This was especially a good thing where Kerry was concerned, who claims to detest beer more than unnecessary body hair, which is saying a lot for her. Luckily, our bartender was as sweet and welcoming as could be, and he didn’t balk at our inane questions about the beer he had on tap, or even Kerry’s claiming of loving a beer she had over at The Village Idiotย which had been diluted by 50% with friggin’ apple juice. (That counts as a non-beer half-assed cocktail in my eyes– sorry, Kerry.)ย He was kind enough to pour a few tastes for us until we found one that was to our liking, which turned out to be the Unibroue Blanche de Chambly, a sweet and almost champagne-like beer tasting mildly of honeysuckle and apricots. I dare say it was smooth and quite refreshing, as far as beers go, and who wouldn’t like a beverage named after a unibrow, even if that constituted as unnecessary body hair?! It was delicious! Surprisingly, another one I didn’t half-mind was the Great Divide Imperial Stout, a super dark and thick beer that tasted like coffee and toffee, all dry and inky black and non-girly. I dug it. And felt the hairs sprouting on my chest. And not just because the alcohol content was 9.5%.

El Prado
Kerry, debating whether to still be friends with me or not
Libational offerings
Look at us, drinking beer!

I’m still not used to drinking more than one beer in a row, however, and that wine list was starting to look mighty tasty. Which is to be expected for the first few go-arounds, I’m sure. But I’m learning! And dissuading myths! And trying something new! Who knows? Maybe by the end of this little journey, I’ll be a beer drinker, and wine’ll take a permanent backseat in my life. Also, Firefly may come back for a second season.

(Oh, Browncoats, it was a joke!)

Stay tuned for my account of a tour in an actual brewery… Coming soon to an Opu near you!

94 Comments Add yours

  1. rbphilip says:

    Ah… a convert! I, in fact, like beer and wine equally. But it didn’t happen (in my Canadian homeland & new home in the US) until I started drinking microbrews. Beer is almost always good in Europe. In your part of the country, beer from Booneville (northwest of San Francisco) is really good. My beer of choice when I lived in Santa Rosa.

  2. Brandy says:

    That’s not a very nice joke!

    And I don’t like beer, either. I’ve tried TONS of them, but no-go. I love lambics, but they might be too sweet for you.

  3. Anders says:

    If you are into “fruity” beer, you should check out some pale ales. Sierra Nevada is a good one, for example. There is also a San Francisco beer which is called Liberty Ale which is super tasty… both are good introductory beers for non-beer lovers who want to learn drinking craft beers…

    1. I dunno. If she likes a porter, she may not like IPAs. I love me my Porters & Stouts and some lagers, but IPAs make me gack. Makes it really easy when I buy a mixed case of Flying Dog as my daughter likes the IPAs

      1. Steve Hall says:

        Karina, IPAs aren’t the same as Pale Ales such as Sierra Nevada (and Anders is right, Jewel: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is excellent). “Regular” pale ales are much lighter, and considerably less hoppy, than India Pale Ales (so-called because they were “beefed up” to survive the long sea voyage from Britain to India, back in colonial days.

        Given the choice, I generally go for a pale ale over an IPA, but my brother-in-law brews some very nice IPA, and I’ve recently tried several from Wisconsin craft breweries that are quite good!

  4. Jim Nichols says:

    Not a big beer drinker either, I do like a good wheat beer or a Guinness. HATE IPAs, too hoppy! It seems the only beers I enjoy are ones I can’t see through. Just had a good beer from Detroit “Atwater Vanilla Java Porter”, I think I like this more than Guinness!

  5. ItsJustMe says:

    As a wine lover myself living in a beer country like Belgium, I must say I loved your previous blog about your Californian wine adventure. We were there ourselves and also went to Napa and Sonoma where we tasted some fantastic wines!! It’s almost unthinkable not to like beer in Belgium, having so many choices! I don’t give in and stay with the wine, our absolute favourite is the Merryvale from Napa.
    But, should your travels leed you in our direction, be sure to try some beers here, we might convert you after all and make you feel all shiny!!

  6. Frank Dye says:

    Speaking of Santa Rosa, try Russian River Brewing Co. Their generally considered one of the top in California. Overall, I applaud your more rounded approach to booze. I have always felt that every form of alcohol has a particular food, time, and place it should be enjoyed with. What you dislike today might taste amazing tomorrow with just a little change of scenery or company.

  7. Raym says:

    Jewel, Heineken is not a beer but a pilsner. I dare say my passion for beer matches your passion for wine. So if you are going to travel the slippery slope of beer tasting. I would suggest you try Belgium made beers. If you ever get the chance try “gulden draak” (golden dragon) or for a less daring option and pretty much guaranteed success a “Geuze”

  8. Perian says:

    Not a beer, but have you tried Domaine de Chaberton Bacchus Dry? It’s a BC wine, white, dry and is the nectar of the gods. (This from a rum-drinker, primarily). ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. Gary Arkham says:

    “Also, Firefly may come back for a second season.

    (Oh, Browncoats, it was a joke!)”

    That was a cheap shot, ma’am. But also the reason why I follow you, so it’s ok.

    1. Danica says:

      I agree… on both counts ๐Ÿ˜€

  10. Eq4bits says:

    You are a braver soul than me! I detest even the smell of beer; in fact it rates right up there with Scotch with aroma’s I’d just as soon ignore and that make my stomach turn. Though that could be because of a too few many keg & frat parties in the mid-1970’s =S and the fact my first husband drank scotch. Therefore, I shall taste these ‘new’ beers vicariously through you. (Better you than me).

  11. Tommyboy says:

    As a professional brewer, I can tell you that there is definitely a beer out there for you somewhere! There are so many different styles, with so many different brewers creating unique and thirst-quenching beers, you are bound to find one to call your own! I brew a juniper stout (with juniper berries), a vanilla bean cherry blossom ale, an awesome chocolately porter, a German wheat with banana, walnut and clove overtones, and many other fine ales and lagers. We even brewed a “Browncoat Brown” about a year ago! Find and watch The History Channel’s Modern Marvels: Brewing, it’s a great way to understand the history of beer and how it came to be what it is today. Cheers! – Tom

    1. Larry Swain says:

      Tommyboy,

      Where? Your brews sound fantastic!

  12. John Sherrod says:

    My favorite beers are German wheats. Hacker-Pschorr Weisse is the best!

  13. Anonymous says:

    I love wine too, Jewel, but I still gotta have my beer. I have tried many beers and have my favorite. Glad you gave it a try and found some you like

  14. Ale Glad says:

    As an avid beer lover and homebrewer, I encourage you to keep trying new beers. There are so many styles and variations that I firmly believe there is a beer for everyone. Not all beers are for everyone and there are several styles I’m rather not fond of. I would suggest looking at the craft and microbrew market over the large American breweries (the bane of all beer, frankly) as there is so much artistry, love, and passion that goes in the making of those. You might like a saison style beer. It is a French-Belgian style that is light in body, isn’t very bitter, and may remind you of some favorite whites. Welcome to the wonderful world of beer, I’m sure you’ll find something you enjoy.

  15. Ben Brockert says:

    Yeah, you should try a Belgian beer, like Budweiser.

    Gag.

    I’ve never like beer either, so I’ll be finding this series interesting. The closest I’ve gotten is cider. When friends go to places that only server beer I’m pretty much lost.

  16. Michael F. says:

    I applaud you for taking your first steps into a new world. Generally speaking, I prefer the darker ales and stouts to most lagers. The world of beer is as diverse and varied as the world of wine, a world I admittedly have yet to fully explore. Keep exploring and I hope you enjoy the journey.

  17. hammer01 says:

    I agree entirely with all of the above!

    Beer is just a heavier wine in my opinion, made through similar processes.

    As for types. When you’re back here in good ol’ Vancouver, or if you can find it elsewhere, try Granville Island Brewing. They have a wonderful selection, and to top it off they have a Raspberry Ale, which for a beer lover (and wine lover, but that aside) such as myself, is a change. Not unwelcome after the first bottle. It’s a lot like a Growers, only it’s beer, instead of cider.

    Now, one of the macrobrews that’s absolutely amazing is Alexander Keith’s of Nova Scotia. They have, in fact, six types that I’ve had. Light ale, which as the name implies is light! Like going to the grocery store and buying dealcoholised beer. Dark Ale, which is a lot like the stout you tried, only there’s chocolate in there!!!!! India Pale Ale, which is my personal favourite aside from the sixth flavour. Red Amber, which isn’t my favourite but is nice all the same. Premium white, which actually tasted like there was ginger in with the beer. Bottom of my list.

    Now, we come to the piece de resistance. The Alexander Keith’s Tartan Ale. Very hard to describe. Take the light Ale appearance of the IPA (India Pale Ale) and the smoky smooth flavours of the Dark Ale and the IPA and you have yourself the Tartan Ale.

    I suppose that turned into more of a rant than anything ๐Ÿ˜›
    Enjoy! And perhaps bring the Creator (Joss of course) along, and talk him into a second season? ๐Ÿ˜›

  18. Take a road trip up through Oregon and Washington… so many good microbreweries! Pike, Rogue, Widmer, Deschuttes, and Iron Horse are a few of my favorites, but there are many more with all the options you could want.

  19. Chris Griffith says:

    You need to venture down to northern San Diego, and visit the Stone Bistro. The food is outstanding and the beers are wonderful. Plus, it is close enough to Temcula, so you can balance the trip out.

  20. Anonymous says:

    i’m glad i’m not the only wine obsessive around. my friends pretend they dont know me if i order wine in a pub/bar as i’ve been known to return quite a few corked/off bottles!!

  21. Diane Werle says:

    As a beer hater living in the land of cheap beer (Milwaukee), even I have to admit that increased imports and the microbrewing movement are making some better tasting beers available. So now I still hate beer, but hate a better quality beer.

  22. Em says:

    Growing up in Oregon, surrounded by amazing beers, I was always a wine girl, too -until I went to France and got my hands on some Belgian brews. If you’re ever in Ashland, Oregon, perhaps to see some Shakespeare, there’s a local brewery/restaurant called “Standing Stone” that makes the most amazing beers (and food!)

  23. AJ says:

    There’s a place near me that talks up its beer list (with reason, it’s rather long). I probably ought to try some of them to see if I like any of them more than I like hard cider. I mean, I’ve had some beers, but I find them a little too alkaline tasting. Might just be a brand issue.

    I didn’t drink much wine (and even then it was riesling) until I started reading your column here. I give you credit for my growing enjoyment of wine, if you want to take it.

  24. Arcanum says:

    I think your tastes in beer might be similar to mine. I also thought I didn’t like beer for a long time, then I discovered I just didn’t like the most commonly popular beers.

    It sounds like you like beers slanted a bit more towards malt and grain (coffee, toffee, sweetness, and others) as opposed to hops (grassy, pine-ey, bitter). With that in mind, here are a few suggestions:
    Magic Hat Circus Boy and other hefeweisens (light, citrus, spices)
    Sam Adams Imperial Series Double Bock (fantastically rich, chocolate, toffee, coffee, high alcohol)
    Blue Point Blueberry Ale (light, a bit sweet, definite blueberry flavor)

    You also might try some hard ciders.

    One way to try new stuff is to find a local store that specializes is craft and microbrews, then wander around with a smartphone or tablet pointed at http://beeradvocate.com/
    When something catches your eye, look it up and see if it sounds tasty. If so, buy a bottle to try.

  25. I’m not a huge fan of beer, but really developed an appreciation after some friends of mine ventured into home brewing. I was surprised at how awesome and tasty most of their creations were and far superior to anything you can buy at the store. The recipes are infinite, too. My husband and I bought our own home brew kit last month and our first batch, a wheat beer, should be ready for consumption next week. I’m so excited! Home brewing is really popular here in Austin and it was a lot of fun to do.

    BTW, those same friends also make their own wine, but it takes 18 months. They’re doing dandelion wine (curious to see what that will be like) and just racked watermelon wine. Woo hoo!

  26. jimb says:

    OLD CHUB!!! That’s one of my favorite beers (I named my dog Oskar after the brewery, Oskar Blues). It’s malty & fairly sweet, not bitter like many american IPA’s (probably the most popular style for American Microbreweries), and not skunky like Heineken. It is fairly heavy, though.

    Almost every beer I’ve had from Colorado has been great: Oskar Blues, Avery, Left Hand Brewing (their milk stout is phenominal!), New Belgium… you can’t really go wrong with any of these breweries, although Avery has some very unique beers that might take some getting used to…

    I definitely encourage you to find local brewhouses & microbreweries. They’re the ones that are the most passionate about beer, and can give you the best education about styles & brewing techniques. They also frequently offer flights of beer, so you can sample a variety of styles without getting hammered on a bunch of 12oz pours.

  27. Kim Cotton says:

    It took me a long time to discover a love for beer, believing for many years that beer meant Bud or Coors. How wrong I was! It took having a deep conversation with a home-brewing friend, detailing what I didn’t like, and what flavors I enjoyed about other foods and beverages. Then we tried a couple sips of some of his favorites, and I gave my feedback. He came back with a bottle from a brewery in Bend, Oregon that someone has already mentioned: Deschutes. It was like a different world (their Black Butte Porter, btw). I implore you to go to the beautiful town of Bend, take a tour of their brewery, with the tasting room at the end. For even more fun, make sure to venture to their downtown pub, get a tasting flight alongside the treats they make using their own beers. Yes, beer can be paired perfectly with food and it’s quite a sight to behold.

  28. Aaron says:

    Hi, Yup our old Friend Heineken. You know all bad experiences can lead to a trend, but I am pleased to see that my fav food crit/space babe has given Beer a second chance.

    The thing about Beer is;

    It’s original purpose was to sustain the body.
    It’s a high carb fluid by definition. 1st world societies do not need this, so in the richer parts of the world Beer needs to focus on taste and branding to seduce not just the guy’s .. but very importantly .. the Ladies !

    Beer has it’s place. Picture this ….
    It’s been a hot stressful day at work. You feel pooped, perhaps a little pissed off and blue.
    That Bottle of quality beer has been chill’in in the fridge for a few day’s, and you forgot about it.
    You get in, pull off your tie/heels (whatever). you yank open the fridge and there it is smiling up at you all frosted and cool.

    I need say no more…

    p.s. I’m drinking Vino Rosata tonight, but sometimes beer is just right.

  29. AllieMcNally says:

    I don’t usually drink beer either. I do enjoy some of the Asian brands like Tiger and Cobra. Also, some German beers are quite nice. We always drink Hefeweizen or Dunkel when we visit Germany. Good luck with the taste testing!

  30. i can totally understand. although i’m not a wine lover myself i do not ‘love’ beer either. my husband, though loves it. to compromise i chose a ‘radler’ or a ‘mรผnchner helles’ as both are not nearly as bitter. it helps living in germany as, and i’m saying this matter of factly without arrogance, we do have the best beer. the ones that not solely aim to increase the urge to use the restrooms but taste actually good. well, to non-beer drinkers i wouldnt say ‘good’ but tolerable ๐Ÿ™‚
    the things we do for love …

  31. David says:

    Beer is at least a varied as wine. Some micro brews are awesome but they tend to be hard to get as you get farther from the brewery. Often just feet away. With that in mind, like with wine, you should have backups in mind. If you want to find the perfect beers you want a place like the http://aus.gingermanpub.com/ that has beer tastings. If you are looking for something like wine like I suggest Belgians. I don’t really get the Stout / wine connection but now that I think of it all my friends that drink one, drink the other as well. Not my thing but they seem to go with the English and Ireland on that one. One last thing. Look at the labels. Especially here in the states. Sorry but a beer brewed in Canada does taste the same as one imported from the country it originated in and should be treated as a separate brand.

  32. Cรฉcile says:

    Have you ever tried “Kriek” ? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kriek
    I find it really good, but be careful, sometimes you can find disgusting ones, so be advised before ordering one.

    1. Ale Glad says:

      Not to sound pedantic, but “kreik” isn’t a style. Kreik is the Belgian word for cherry, a common fruit flavoring for lambic style beers. That being said, I am much more fond of fruit lambics than lambics, in general, with cherry lambics being my favorite.

      Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because it’s a fruit beer that it’s going to be sweet. The fruit flavor will be there, and maybe some residual sugars, but the fermentation process converts almost all of the fructose into alcohol along with other sugars in the wort (unfermented beer). Several brands of fruit lambics are sweetened and many people find this preferable.

      A good and regularly available kreik lambic is Lindeman’s. Other available flavors include raspberry, apple, black currant, and peach. Lambics are a good introduction to beer for the very fruity wine lover. They are not very heavy, very fruity, many are sweet, and they are very fizzy. In fact, they can often teach champagne a thing or two about how to be fizzy.

  33. Laurie says:

    I wish you all the luck. I myself have spent more money then I will admit trying this same thing, and failed. My friends have enjoyed the trek, and benefited much from it – anything I didn’t like (everything) they were all too happy to finish for me. Such heroes, huh? Fortunately most places around here (small-college-town hell) have hard apple cider on the beer menus, which I will drink. I enjoy most other types of alcohol, just not beer for some reason.

    I will follow your progress with interest, maybe you will inspire me to try again. sigh.

  34. Jewel Staite says:

    Holy beer lovers, Batman! A big THANK YOU to all who left suggestions and opinions! My list of beers to drink is about as long as one of my Bloomingdales receipts at this point.. You guys rock my world. XO – Jewel

  35. Daniel says:

    Just be glad you don’t live in Mississippi. We only allow beers 6% or lower.

  36. Larry Swain says:

    Hi Jewel, first time seeing your blog; just found you on Twitter. Big fan of Firefly, Stargate Atlantis, and loved the episode of Warehouse 13 with you and Sean Maher last season. Yes, though ancient, I am a nerd, geek, and scifi buff.

    I love wine. I love beer. Tasty goodness. Unibroue is a great brewery from Quebec and I love their stuff. I don’t know Great Divide, but am a fan of Imperial Stouts! If you like that one, though, I think you’ll like most stouts and porters.

    I’ll take a slightly different tack than my fellow posters. Rule number one for me for beer or wine (or even whiskey): if it isn’t good enough to drink, it isn’t good enough to cook with. That said, many dishes that take wine will also work with beer. For example, I *LOVE* coq au vine. But coq a la bier is equally fantastic. My take on the dish is to dredge the chicken in rye flour and use a British nut brown ale (Sam Smith’s is my fav of that variety though Newcastle Brown is a close second) as the liquid. Wonderful if I do say so myself.

    A few short points and this post will be done: a) have you tried any rieslings from the Finger Lakes region? Not cloying, nice and dry and crisp b) the late Michael Jackson (not the singer) wrote several excellent books about beer and beer tasting…worth investing in as “presents” for your husband that you get to use too c) have you tried any Cabernet Francs? d) I once had a white Burgundy that had been aged in concrete “barrels”…just a beautiful wine. Wish I could remember the name now…..

  37. If you ever need a beer drinking buddy, Lemme know! I’m one of those illusive female beer lovers.

  38. rebekah says:

    The beer that made me a “beer drinker” is Breckenridge Brewery’s Summerbright Ale. It is a wheat beer that is smooth and refreshing on a hot summer day. I still love wine as much if not more than anybody I know. Thanks for sharing you’re experience and I look forward to reading more about it. Oh ans I still have yet to try Heinikin (sp?)

  39. Ben says:

    It’s good that you’re giving beer another chance, I did the same thing some time ago and ended up starting to find beers I liked and my tastes grew.

    I don’t have much in the way of recommendations for you (which is probably fine since it sounds like you’ve got a lot already) because most of my beer knowledge is from my local breweries, and most of those aren’t available in California. If you ever find yourself in Colorado, I highly recommend trying Odell Brewing Company’s Cutthroat Porter. If you liked (or at least “didn’t half mind”) the Imperial Stout, I think you’d like it.

  40. McDoux says:

    Shiner’s current summer brew, Ruby Redbird, is all citrusy and light (too girly for this girl) and there are a ton of great craft brews being made in Texas. Can’t count Shiner as a craft beer, but it’s still my fave brewery ever, esp. the 101 Bohemian Black and their “Cheer” holiday brew, which is a lovely dunkelweizen with wheat and peach notes. And how can you not love the Shiner story? 55 people in a tiny little town, making delicious beer. Gotta love that.

  41. Shannon says:

    Yeah Beer is a challenge for me too. I enjoy wine (not to the devotion that you have for it) but have struggled with beer. My husband has been on a pursuit for a entry beer for me. The thing is, I can taste all the different attributes that a beer has. It lights up my mouth and tongue in a way that nothing else quite does.

  42. Tim says:

    And when you’re back up in Vancouver, check out some of the local bars like St. Augustine’s, the Alibi Room, or the Railway Club that feature special “cask nights” – special brews made outside of the regular batches.
    And check out the events in the annual Vancouver Craft Beer Week in May

  43. Bob Dayon says:

    If you want good beer you should try going to Germany. When I lived there I thought they had the best beer in the world.
    Bob

  44. Taen says:

    I didn’t enjoy beer either for a long time (oh, okay, so it wasn’t so long, just until my mid-20s) and stuck with cocktails and wine too. That is until a friend dragged me out to a local microbrewery and made me sample their selection of fresh tasty beers on tap. I’ve fallen in love! There are some really good beers out there, you just have to go look for them and try a bunch. (Lost Coast Brewery’s Tangerine Wheat and Great White are tasty! They’re what convinced me beer can be good.)

  45. fojoy says:

    I am also not a big beer drinker, but I have recently found one that I really enjoy – its from a local (Edmonton, AB) brewery – Alley Kat – and its called Brewberry.
    Its a blueberry beer, and it is so refreshing on a hot summer day.
    I think I just might have to go have one right now…

  46. Jo Freeland says:

    You should try Shiner Bock’s Ruby Red Bird. It’s a seasonal beer they put out for summer and it has red grapefruit and ginger flavours. It’s delicious.

  47. Emmy says:

    The thing I love about beer is that is goes so well with FOOD! Well, fried foods. But consider this: my sister was an avid non-beer-drinker. The beer that eventually won her over was the McMennamins ruby ale, which is light and fruity and summery and made with raspberries. We’d go for a hike in the Columbia Gorge and stop by Edgefield for burgers on the way back into Portland. I almost can’t even defend this because anyone who’s ever been to a McMennamins will tell you the experience is solidly mediocre, but for some reason that beer and burger always tasted SO GOOD. Maybe you had to be there? But after that she must have developed a taste for beer because now she’ll split a pitcher of even the most Portlandy beer-snobby IPAs with me and love it. I’ll agree with previous commentors that sometimes a beer is just straight up refreshing. Sometimes the experience makes it tastier!

  48. Anonymous says:

    My husband brews Old Chub. For real, he is a brewer. I had to say that because on a brewer’s salary, the pride is all we have. I think most people get into beers starting with stouts and dark ales. Then you move to IPA’s. Then you’re ready for a nice frambozen, or a sour beer. But not too sour. God I love beer.

  49. Steve Blake says:

    Ha! Good for you, Adventure girl!

  50. Ale Glad says:

    You might want to consider doing a beer and cheese pairing. Just like wine, these are actually pretty common in regions with a good craft or microbrew. Some brewpubs do them as well. For a lot of wine drinkers the idea of a cheese and beer tasting is a bit odd, and maybe encroaches a bit on sacred territory, but almost all cheeses go well with beer. You might even want to consider adding a variety of meats and smoked fishes to the sample platters. The rich, gamey taste of venison paired with a flavorful cheddar or roquefort and a creamy oatmeal stout is a flavor experience to try for any self-respecting (and self-indulgent) gourmand.

    I haven’t even had breakfast yet and now I am craving this. ๐Ÿ™‚

  51. Tia says:

    Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch is my personal favorite. From Dogfish’s website: ‘This recipe is the actual oldest-known fermented beverage in the world! It is an ancient Turkish recipe using the original ingredients from the 2700 year old drinking vessels discovered in the tomb of King Midas. Somewhere between wine & mead; this smooth, sweet, yet dry ale will please the Chardonnay of beer drinker alike.’

    1. Ale Glad says:

      It’s pricey, but it’s actually rather good. It doesn’t taste anything like “regular” beer and is rather full of sweet, rich grape flavors.

  52. Dennis says:

    Be sure to try a hefeweisen. It’s a German wheat beer with a bit of a fruity citrus nose and a finish of bananas and cloves. I love it with a lemon wedge.

  53. Kitten says:

    Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. –Ben Franklin
    I’m the opposite of you – I love the beers first, only recently finding wines I like. Next time in Phoenix AZ, head to Tempe and try Four Peaks’ Kiltlifter and their Peach Ale. They win awards for the Kiltlifter, and the Peach is so light and sweet and refreshing it almost makes it worth living through our summers, just to get it.

  54. Wertyp says:

    Best beer is definitely Tyskie from Poland, I highly recommend it ๐Ÿ™‚

  55. Stiggle says:

    Almost all my local pubs brew their own. Some bottle it too. Will have to post some over for you to try.

  56. Laura MacRae says:

    Ah, you make me smile. Personally, I prefer some pre-mixed, vodka-based drink than wine. I keep trying it, but can’t get into it. With beer, I like it for half the way through, then can’t drink any more without cringing. Kinda weird of me ๐Ÿ˜›

  57. Oh, that was a cruel joke! But I love your blogs. I like beer (stouts and darker beers are my favs) more then wine, but don’t get me wrong..I do love me a good glass of wine too! I’m lucky to live relatively close to a local winery here in FL, so that’s petty awesome! But more then wine and beer I absolutely looooooove food! I’m always trying to make fun and new things…unfortunately for me my poor husband (who’s my test dummy) has a tenancy to be a bit picky…I just don’t get it! How could you not want to try as many yummy things as possible?!

  58. TJ says:

    I totally hear ya, Jewel. I didn’t like beer for years, and when me and hubby were together in the early years, we could only afford pitchers of beer at the bars, and by the time I finally sorta got used to the taste of beer, we made a startling discovery – every time we went out, we would have these most tremendous fights, and I would get so snarly and mean and scary. Turns out that carbs don’t do well for me as I was completely low-blood-sugaring every single time we had beer, and the minute my husband started buying me hard liquor and red wines, everything was dandy. JUST when I got used to the taste of beer, I found I couldn”t drink it. But that’s OK – I’m sticking with my lovely red wines that I adore from Eastern Washington (Rattlesnake Hills area – check out that winery map), and when I’m feeling frisky, there’s always Bacardi’s Rum Island Iced Tea ๐Ÿ˜‰ Cheers & hugs to you

  59. I love the differences available in beers now. So many more to choose from than 20 years ago. I am more of a beer girl, actually. But, you make me want to try a few more types of wine, esp after reading that you don’t like the same ones I don’t like! I’ll be re-reading your birthday/wine weekend blog now and looking for things to try even more closely. Thanks so much, Jewel. Hope you have a great week!

  60. Anonymous says:

    Okay wine lover, you must try Young’s Double Chocolate Stout – It’s like the beer world’s version of a chocolate milk. I’m a girl who used to detest all things beer, but this is the one that pulled me in. I even make my own beer now! Anything wheat or stout are wonderful in my book. Hefeweizens = amazing – I would recommend Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier (don’t ask me how to pronounce it!)

  61. I’m a born-and-raised Minnesotan, from the heart of micro-brewery and “I’m pretty sure we can get grapes to grow here” country. I’m astounded on a regular basis with how much there is out there in terms of wine and beer, and I still have trouble picking one when I go out if I’m not at my normal bar!
    I wasn’t a beer drinker at first – I don’t like hops. They’re too bitter. But I love a good wheat beer, and I’ve even started drinking IPAs and Hefeweizens when the mood strikes.
    Then again, I wasn’t really a wine drinker at first, either. My German grandmother steered me toward Rieslings at a young age, and I can’t seem to put down that bottle.
    My drinking is completely situation-based. Indoors with family? Wine. Outdoors at a bonfire? Beer. Indoors at a work party? …either. Though it really depends on what’s there.

  62. Kevin Colby says:

    I can’t even begin to describe the squee of excitement when I saw Beer in the title of this post. I’m a Beer Nerd and Homebrewer. Love the stuff like you love wine. I’ve met very few beers I didn’t like, usually the really funky Belgians (FYI Barnyard is not a flavor or aroma that i would tend to shoot for in my beer making, but you know those crazy Belgians!) Anyway, I’m excited to read more of your experimentation with beers (the real stuff not those crappy “Lite American Lagers”). A few breweries I would recommend are Dogfish Head (be forewarned these guys like hops and they like extremes), Sierra Nevada (their Pale Ale is pretty much the gold standard for Pale Ales), St Arnold (a very innovative craft brewery out of Houston, TX, for a real treat try the Lawnmower side by side with Weedwacker it’s the same grains and hops just different yeasts used so you can really tell the role that the yeasty beasties and fermentation play in making great beer). If you’re feeling really adventuresome, toss me a shipping address ๐Ÿ™‚

  63. Layli says:

    As someone who previously hated beer, and shares your passion for wine, I can truly relate to this post. My beer-aversion was broken, however, after about a ten month stay in the Czech Republic, where beer is cheaper than water, and actually does go well with cheese dishes (Google: Czech beer cheese), my heart (and taste buds) started to turn. Some nights, when out drinking with my British and Canadian colleagues (what’s an American girl to do?) I’d have 4 pints of Gambrinus, and truly enjoying it. These were not college days for me either. I was already 4 years out of the time when most people find their love of beer.

    Of course, if I am to be perfectly honest, most of the wine in CR tastes of lighter fluid, and the white is better than the red, and nothing hits my tongue quite like a full and complex pinot noir. Now that I am back in the US, I may find myself drinking a beer now and then, usually a microbrew, but my boyfriend and I have made a committment to become winos together, even planning a trip to Napa this fall.

    You’re sure to find at least a speciality beer you quite like, but just because you don’t like bad beer, doesn’t mean you don’t like beer. Do your beer tastings in Europe whenever possible, and keep avoiding those prejudices.

    Thanks for this great post!

  64. Josh says:

    Three of my favorites (one of which I can’t get anymore) are Munich Spauten Optimator (a double bock/dopple bock), McEwan’s Scotch Ale (can’t get it apparently anywhere west of the Mississippi anymore), and Sam Adam’s new Wee Heavy Ale (a lovely, smoky, peaty, semi-sweet scotch ale that has replaced my craving for McEwan’s to a certain degree).

    Note how many folks mention the Colorado brewers. There is some really tremendous competition between those guys for making quality beer. Oh, and Old Chub is good, but I have a somewhat negative effect after drinking several of them right after the other. Best stay with one a sitting. Not only is it high alcohol content, but it also seems to have something else in there that accentuates the high alcohol and gives a bender like nothing else (except tequila).

  65. Erica says:

    I actually don’t like wine OR beer as a general rule. Granted I haven’t tried many varieties of either but what I have I really didn’t like. Except this one wine (what was it called?) that was basically a wine cooler…tasted like Kool Aid! LOL

    But reading through all these comments I realize there is a lot more to beer than what I’ve seen in my parents’ refrigerator over the years. Maybe some day I’ll give it (and wine) more of a chance.

    But for now I’m happy with rum…my long-time favorite strawberry daiquiris and Malibu Bay Breezes which my roommate introduced me to recently. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Oh and, Jewel, I knew the Firefly comment was a joke from the get-go but it was still mean. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And speaking of, I sure wish your scedule allowed you to come to the CSTS event in Salt Lake City next month. Would have been great to see you again.

  66. markperry136 says:

    My wife walked the same path to beer enlightenment. She too liked the stouts. So one more suggestion, if it is available maybe try Youngs Double Chocolate Stout. It’s her favorite for when she is in her very rare non wine mood. Have fun!

  67. Anonymous says:

    Try Golden Monkey from Victory brewery. A belgian tripel with 9.5% alcohol. It’s very tasty.

  68. Geoff Engel says:

    Another professional brewer here, and it’s great seeing someone come at this from the wine-lover side. Even today, it’s way too common for people to think of beer as low-brow and all tasting the same. Not to mention, they don’t even consider beer and food pairings, no matter how many beer tasting dinners I’ve hosted at half-a-dozen breweries.

    If you’re ever in the Portland, Oregon area, I could show you about to all sorts of beer varieties. There’s always something different up here.

  69. Luke says:

    I am the opposite, I like beers, but I have never really been a fan of wine. Part of it is that I really haven’t been exposed to wine and I don’t know much about it. I am interested in getting more exposure to wine. Can you recommend some good starter wines for me to check out and try?
    On another note, one style of beer you should try is Iambic. These are Belgian sour beers, but not usually too sour. They are usually made with fruit, my favorite are cherry based ones.

  70. Martin Knoll says:

    > Also, Firefly may come back for a second season.
    >
    > (Oh, Browncoats, it was a joke!)

    Of course it was. Not even Joss could shot a second season AND the Serenity sequel at the same time. Also Morena already mentioned that Firefly always was meant to be on the big screen.

    so long…

    p.s.: River is crazy

  71. Tim Regan says:

    If your still having trouble with carbonation finding a beer served “On Cask” is a great way to get past that and enjoy the lavor without the carbonation. It is definately my fiance’s favorite way to have a good beer and in certain cases mine as well. So please give it a try and enjoy.

  72. Geoff Engel says:

    Lambics are pretty good, it’s true. They’re a completely different flavor to other beers, because they are fermented with a complex variety of microorganisms, not just yeast. They also have almost no hop flavor, so they’re a pretty good choice for people who don’t like bitter beers. Depending on the variety, and there are lots of them, they can be fairly smooth and sweet or intensely acidic. The most popular ones in the US are fruit lambics, ranging from blackcurrent to cherry to raspberry (I’ve seen banana, but it’s not a good idea). There are also non-fruit flavored ones, which I prefer–but they can be very sour if you’re not prepared for them.

  73. rudy says:

    Unibroue! They’re my favorite brewery. They haven’t made a beer I haven’t liked yet. Do yourself a favor and keep trying out the microbrew beers and stay the hell away from mass volume produced factory beers (unless you just like to pee a lot.)

    Up until recently, beers were kind of like second class beverages, but with the popularity and success of microbrews in the past few decades, beers are getting the acceptance and recognition that they can be as sophisticated and varied as wines.

    Some atypical beers to sample are Lindeman’s Framboise (or Pomme and Peche), or Wittekerke Rose, which has a milder taste. Framboise and Rose are both raspberry flavored beers. The Framboise actually tastes like a fizzy raspberry soda.

    Going in between beer and wines, give barley wines a try. Barley wines are strong ales approaching the alcohol content of wines, but since they are fermented from grains instead of fruits, they cannot be called wines. You probably shouldn’t be chugging barley wines.

    One of best ways to widening your beer tastes is to go attend a beer festival. Some are just lots of varieties of beers, but others are focused, such as a microbrew festival, or Belgian beer festival.

  74. Brooke says:

    As a Michigander, I love our micro-brews! There’s a ton of good ones! We have some great wines too!

  75. Mego says:

    What a mighty fine blog post that was. I think I got to read more of those ๐Ÿ™‚
    About the whole beer – wine discussion: It might be, because I’m german that I’m somewhat spoiled when it comes to beer (yes I believe there’s only two countries that can compete for the crown of the best beer: Germany and the Czech Republic) but I think most of the US beers are basically just colored water with a little alcohol in it. The whole mixing it with apple juice actually made my toenails crumple up… But I think it’s cool that you want to expand your horizon when it comes to beers. (And a second Firefly Season would be nice as well ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

  76. Geoff Engel says:

    Mego, I’d argue that the concept of US beer as colored water is something of an outdated idea. Yes, the majority of beer sold in the US is basically a tasteless version of Pilsener (although technically speaking, it’s incredibly hard to brew beer that way–there’s nowhere to hide any mistakes, so it has to be perfect every time). On the other hand, and especially on the coasts, there’s been a massive resurgence of traditional and experimental beers with any amount of flavor. It’s true that especially on the West Coast, where I have most of my brewing experience, the trend is towards either British-inspired ales or Belgians-style beers with very few German or Czech-styles brewed here. There are exceptions to this, though–Chuckanut Brewing in Bellingham, Washington is exclusively German beers with a high-tech version of traditional German brewing processes.

  77. Good on you for looking to try something new. If you can appreciate the art of wine making that much then you will find the process of brewing just as interesting. Well, microbrews anyway. There’s been several up-start breweries in my hometown of Indianapolis, IN, and my fav is Sun King Brewery in the heart of downtown. Last year they made a Belgian Wit brewed with locally grown crab apples, along with oats and cinnamon. Named Malus Pi, It was like apple pie in a glass, amazing! Look for ale houses that specialize in having many microbrews on tap, I’m sure you find more than a few to your liking.

  78. Blanche de Chambly was the beer that made me realize that I liked beer! It’s fantastic. It opened up a whole new world to me and made me realize that not all beer tastes like Coors Light and Molsen Canadian (ick). I actually just got back from a beer-centric tour of Belgium where they make the most amazing beer in the world, and they take it as seriously as other countries take their wine. Servers at restaurants give beer pairing suggestions!

    If you’re looking for places to eat while you’re in Toronto, I’ve got some suggestions on my blog (I highly recommend Mother’s Dumplings and Marben Restaurant). Just scroll past the most recent Belgium posts to find them. ๐Ÿ™‚

  79. Cat says:

    Worth the read just for the term “beer racist”!

  80. Renate says:

    Welcome to the wonderful world of beer. And women not drinking beer must be a west coast thing. Here in the midwest, beer is the beverage of choice for most. I’ve begun homebrewing, and fyi there are also home wine making kits. I also just found a site with home sake kits – might have to try that as well. I look forward to hearing of your future beer adventures and am confident that you will find many to your liking. I believe there’s even more variety in beer than there is in wine.

  81. Abe says:

    I’m the exact opposite. I love a good beer but I have yet to taste a wine that really moved me. I’m glad you enjoyed the Imperial Stout, I love a good malty dark beer (Interestingly enough, I drink my coffee black too. Might be something there.)

    I really need to try my hand at more wines, it’s just hard to know where to start.

  82. Ed Stephens says:

    I used to love beer but about six months ago I discovered I am gluten intolerant and so have had to give it up. Just when I discovered Toronto’s Mill St. Brewery and their coffee house porter.

    I also enjoy wine but being rather barbaric I just buy whatever the LCBO is giving extra Airmiles on. Perhaps its time I did more research.

    1. Geoff Engel says:

      There are a small number of gluten-free beers out there. Mind you, I haven’t actually tried any of them, but they are options.

      http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/glutenfreefoodshopping/tp/GlutenFreeBeers.htm

  83. Cate says:

    I’m not a huge beer fan either…. I love the first two or three sips… but then it just doesn’t do it for me. I’m absolutely a wine person… I like a nice apple cider, or a perry… but beer? Maybe, like you, I just haven’t found the right one… it’s just always been safer to go with wine, because I know what I like in a wine.
    (And Firefly related, sicne you mentioned it.. I’m househunting… I viewed a house today, that was on a street called ‘Serenity Place’…. gorgeous house, but I would have made an offer on it just for the novelty of the street name… unfortunatly, it’s not in an area I’d consider living in….. ๐Ÿ™ )

  84. Mike Gilson says:

    Unibrou is actually one of my favorite breweries; a majority of their stuff is amazingly delicious. I’ve always been a fan of the Belgian styles, which they do quite admirably.

  85. Carl Yeager says:

    I just want to say that what makes reading your blog even more enjoyable is that from years of sampling your con appearances and acting gigs, we’ve got a good feel of your voice, and some of your mannerisms, which translate quite well in your writing. Why, it’s almost like you’re reading it to us! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Great job! I look forward to reading more of your culinary escapades.

  86. David says:

    If you are such a wine connoisseur can you pass the cheap versus
    expensive wine test? You’ll have to do a double blind test to
    convince me probably. Most people apparently can’t tell the
    difference!

  87. <3 Unibroue. Their unique texture makes them exquisite, in my opinon, and their Ephemere makes for some great ribs! Thanks for the awesome article. ๐Ÿ™‚

    AJ

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