Did I mention that I haven’t always loved beer? I tried beer… I really did! But I never found it enjoyable. So, I figured I just wasn’t a “beer person.” Turns out, I actually AM a beer person. I love beer. I just needed a little time, some information, and a few taste testers. Okay… maybe more than a few.

So, let me pour myself a great brew and share a few tips on how you, too, can learn to enjoy beer — or at least not hate it so much.

First, learning to love beer won’t happen overnight.

I think of it like getting older and acquiring new tastes. You know, like learning to love sushi, green vegetables, and a variety of things that surprisingly aren’t doused in the sugar and preservatives that our younger selves would have turned up our noses at.

Learning to love beer takes time. It takes an open mind.

You have to stop telling yourself that you don’t like beer and start telling yourself that you didn’t like THAT beer RIGHT NOW.   When we get past thinking about beer in broad generalities, we can start to find the specifics about beer that we DO enjoy.

Next, you should try lots of beers.

A great way to do this is to order a flight at your local brewery.

Most craft breweries serve what is called a flight, which is usually 4-6 small pours of their various brewed concoctions. These (typically) four-ounce tasters allow you try a variety of styles, flavors, and strengths. It is much like a wine tasting. Be sure to read the descriptions of each beer and choose flavors you enjoy outside of beer, such as fruits, chocolate, or even caramel.

As you sip these tasters, remember that aroma is a huge part of enjoying beer.

See if what you smell is the same flavor you taste. Beer is a mix of many sometimes-complex flavors like fruit, various roasted malts, and hoppy additions. Learn to detect these complex flavors.

Does it end on a sweet note? Does it have a nutty or maybe floral taste? Do you smell and taste the grapefruit in the hops? And just like with wine tastings, don’t forget to order a glass of water to clean your palette in between tasters. You don’t want to ruin your fruity sour with the leftover roasted coffee taste from your stout.

Be sure to try a variety of styles!

Just like wine, beer comes in light, crisp, clean varieties and it comes in heavy, boozy, deep flavored styles. By trying a variety of styles, you can find one (or more) you enjoy.

If you are new to beer and prefer lighter flavors, maybe try a Shandy, a fruit beer, a Lambic, or even a Brut or Rose IPA. Don’t be put off by darker beers, either! Browns, Porters, and Stouts can often have a nutty, toffee, or chocolate flavor that you may enjoy. A milk stout might be a great option too, as it often has a sweet finish. Remember that the color of the beer doesn’t always represent the strength of the beer. A light-colored double IPA may be somewhat boozy and high in alcohol, whereas a darker brown may have a lighter toffee flavor and be a lot lower in alcohol by volume.

Take time to visit your local brewery and talk to your server!

They are often trained to help you find beers that will appeal to your tastes. Tell them what you like, and maybe more importantly, what you don’t like.

Be specific!

Don’t say “I hate beer! What do you have that doesn’t taste like beer?” Give them specifics like “I’m not sure I like the bitterness of the hops I’ve had in other beers.” Or, “I like citrus flavors. Do you have anything with a citrus flavor?” They can often direct you to something on their menu that fits your taste. And remember, just like certain foods are in season at different times of the year, beer can be seasonal, too. Check back periodically because your local brewery is probably switching up their menu from time to time.

Learning to love beer takes time and a willingness to broaden your horizons. There are styles I definitely didn’t like at first, but as time has gone by, I found I enjoy more and more. I also began reading up on the actual brewing process and have taken a few tours at my favorite breweries to learn just how different styles are made. This knowledge has enabled me to enjoy some beers more because I know the work and the ingredients that went into making them.

So… know that you won’t go from beer hater to seasoned sipper overnight, but you can get there, if you want to.

Next time you get together with friends, or need a date night activity, hit up a local microbrewery. Be sure to read the menu, talk to your server, and order up a flight to try. Give it a little time — you just may be finding a new favorite. And you might just be like me and learn to love beer!

Here is the first part in this series: From Beer Hater to Seasoned Sipper.

love beer