I am asked all the time what my favorite beer is. Those who know me personally tend to give me a hard time because my usual response is: “the one in my hand.” Today, I’m going to take a deeper look at this question with thoughts on what beer styles people prefer to drink and what those preferences might say about them.
I’d have to say my three favorite beer styles are probably Pilsner, pale ale and wheat beer. All are traditional, ancient styles. This doesn’t mean I don’t love dozens of other styles, and I certainly don’t limit my beer enjoyment to just these three.
The love of Pilsner — arguably the most difficult style of beer to brew — shows a love of my craft and a goal to always challenge and improve. Pale ale love is all about hops and malt. It’s the balance of the two classic ingredients that speaks to the traditionalist in me. Wheat beer is a little less straightforward, but for me, the addition of smooth, spicy wheat to sweet malted barley really quenches a big thirst. Nothing is much better for summer enjoyment than wheat beer. It refreshes the soul.
So now that I’ve pulled the amateur psychoanalysis on myself, let’s do that with some other beer.
• Oktoberfest. You like the cooler weather of fall, the creamy sweet notes make you comfortable, and you can’t wait to drink beer in a crowd setting at a beer festival, hopefully singing drinking songs while you do.
• American light lager. You’re a beer drinker who really enjoys drinking beer; if it works, don’t change it! The easy-drinking lighter beers are perfect for any occasion.
• Amber lager. The often reddish hues are pleasing to your eye. The malty bready notes might make you crave a sandwich, and the sweet fruity aroma is a crowd pleaser.
• Bock beer. An end-of-winter beer that brings to mind the first campfires of the year. The malty, smoky notes of bock beer are often enjoyed after a hike or gazing at the lake. You are probably an outdoors enthusiast who also enjoys the fact that you know what bock beer is as opposed to most beer drinkers.
• Chile beer. A favorite style of mine. The beers tend to be enjoyed by thrill seekers who may enjoy the adrenaline rush the high heat levels that many Chile beers provide. A small category of beer but a very important one in my opinion.
• Rye beer. Like the whisky drinker who prefers rye to bourbon, you are a flavor seeker. Rye has a pronounced earthy, spicy bite with slight tartness. Rye beer lovers are willing to do more searching as there are far less rye beers on the market.
• Coffee beer. You are a coffee achiever morning, noon and night. The brewer that figured out that coffee really tastes great in many beer styles, especially dark beers, is your hero. You are tickled that you can enjoy a pint after a hard day and get a pick-me-up with your relaxation.
• Session beers. You’re a knowledgeable beer drinker with a strong understanding of styles. Sometimes, you’re a bit more experienced (older), and the appeal of being able to enjoy a lower alcohol version of your favorite style is a huge draw. Oddly enough, many veteran brewers seem to fall into this group as well.
• Fruit beers. You love flavors and fun, approachable beers. These are often really pretty with hues from orange to purple and are a great alternative to wine. These offerings could be called gateway beers — from mass produced to the small craft world of beer.
• Stout. You like the water and some rough weather. The malty, acrid, chocolaty notes call to you. Your first pint was probably on an exchange trip to Ireland. A real beer drinker’s beer.
• IPA. This is maybe the first craft beer you tried. The wonderful citrus and pine aromas really promised something great. The soporific effects of the hops immediately relaxed you, and the explosion of hop flavor in your mouth created a fan for life. IPA is by far the No. 1 craft beer style produced, I guess that means you have very good taste.
• Double and triple IPA. You might have an eye on ABV (alcohol by volume) a little too much, but you love those hops.
• Extra special bitter. An old school style that true aficionados tend to enjoy. Sometimes they also enjoy the fact that they are the only person in the joint that not only knows the four or five subcategories of bitter but also the only one who drinks bitters exclusively and is working hard to carry on the ancient style. Loyal.
No matter what style you enjoy, it’s fun to talk about what you like in a beer and why — especially sitting at the pub with a pint in hand.
Written by Dave Hoops as published in the Duluth News Tribune