Gateway Beers – Stepping Outside The Norm

So eventually the man, standing in the aisle of his big chain grocery late one night, decided he’d had enough.  Enough of everything tasting just about the same, enough of not knowing what all these other bottles had to offer.  It seemed like an adventure was ready to take place, but what to choose?   He was curious, so curious.  So many to choose from, so many names, so many labels with differing styles, and some of them just had to be really, really good.  But which ones?  So decision he made, and being somewhat frugal and having little idea, he made his decision based upon little else but how exotic the idea of a beer from Brazil sounded in his head.  BRAZIL??  You’re kidding, right?  BRAZIL?  Even he wondered how valid the choice was.  After all, it wasn’t even from one of the grand old beer producing nations, like Germany, or England, Belgium, or the like?  BRAZIL??

Well, as it turned out the beer tasted fairly good, especially given what I had been drinking for far too long.  Looking back, I’ve moved onto others, other beers, other examples of this particular style, sure.  But as it also turns out, Xingu, yes, from Brazil, wasn’t a bad example of a beer style that just might be a good one to try, if you’re up for trying something a little different, without risking too much.

Now far be it from me to say that I’m an expert on what are generally called “gateway beers” or, the first beers that someone might try that move one’s tastebuds beyond the norm and into the better beer world.   And I truly believe there are several different directions of styles to go on these.  Xingu, a “black lager”, or Schwarzbier, worked for me, even though I did buy it on a bit more than just a feeling – I was looking for something with a somewhat toasted malt character, something like the Oktoberfests that I knew I cared for with their malty flavor – but it worked simply because I enjoyed it, really enjoyed it.  As in, the adventure was a success.  And soon, back to the aisle I went, as I still do, searching out different things.  It was different, and I thought it tasted quite good.

The trick then, for anyone wanting to try something different, is to perhaps start with some vague idea of what you might like, and then try something along those lines, keeping in mind not to go too far on the first date with your newly found beer.   Just as one might not ride the world’s fastest roller coaster on their first ever trip on a coaster.  But there are some styles here and there that might make tasting new styles easier, when all one has ever had tastes like flavored water.  Black lagers are just one route to go, which brings me to that all so common beer misconception, that color designates how “heavy” a beer is going to be.   Its just not true.  Beers like these are actually pretty light in body, but have richer, fuller flavors.  Plus, there are several of these black lagers out there – Magic Hat even makes a seasonally available one called “Howl” that’s pretty good.

I’m definitely going to continue to post thoughts on first try beer styles, in the days to come.  Consider it a personal road map of the beer road, with an eye always open for the next tasty turn.

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~ by thebeerroad on February 24, 2010.

 
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