Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

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Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Tue Jun 07, 2011 2:33 pm

I'm not a big drinker and I don't like the feeling of being drunk, so if I ever drink beer it's usually when I'm overheating and the beer is ice cold. Otherwise, the bitterness in most beers I've tried gags me, especially as I get to the bottom of the bottle.

I've tried to look up various guides to common beer variants and most use terms that mean nothing to me: hoppy, yeasty, malty, caramel, warm, nutty, etc. I have no idea what most of these mean. Plus, I'm more concerned about the bitterness than anything since that will keep me from actually drinking the beer. Mostly I'm confused about the different types of beer that are out there and what makes them different from the others. If I go to the exotic beer section of my liquor store, I usually end up panicking at all the beer types and leave empty handed. Between the stouts, porter, drafts, ales, India Pale Ales, weiss, bocks, meads, lagers, draught, barley wines, casks, dunkel, pilsner, specialties, etc. my head feels like it's going to explode. What I'm looking for is what ones tend to be bitter and which ones tend to be mild in that department. If I know I won't be gagging on the bitterness, I'm pretty open to trying any beer.

A friend here at work recommended some weiss beers and I tried a few that I liked and didn't find too bitter. The best I've tried so far is Franziskaner (though at first I couldn't find it because I was looking for Francis Connor - should have had him write the name down). I tried Aventinus and found it tasted like beer mixed with a mulled wine that had fruit and spices in it; that kind of freaked me out. My next weiss beers to try are Schneiderweisse, Magic Hat's Circus Boy, and Hacker-Pschor.

I don't know...maybe I'm just looking for a beer that doesn't taste like beer, if that makes sense. I think my general dislike of beer goes back to when I was 15 and my brother had a party while my folks were at work. He and his friends brought in cases of only the highest quality beer (Meister Brau) and I drank so much I passed out in my tighty-whiteys in front of the back-door. I awoke to everyone walking over me trying to get out of the house since my folks came home earlier than expected. (I also have faint recollections of french-kissing a girl so huge she kept asking me to bring her Solo and the Wookie). I don't know how I made it upstairs to my bedroom, but the next thing I remember is heaving my guts out into my round metal yellow Pittsburgh Steelers garbage can. By the time I was finished, the round can was an oval since I was holding onto it for dear life. When I was finally able to stand up without my legs buckling like a baby zebra, I hauled the can downstairs and into the backyard to secretly free it of the abomination I had cursed it with. I'll never forget that subtle aroma of six slices of pizza gently poached in 12 cans of Meister Brau for the 8 hours or so it took to sleep it off. I should have worn a hazmat suite with a activated charcoal respirator because after that fiasco even a subtle wisp of beer aroma would set my stomach into apoplexy.
Last edited by bdwilcox on Tue Jun 07, 2011 4:38 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Tue Jun 07, 2011 2:47 pm

bdwilcox wrote: My next weiss beers to try are Schneiderweisse, Magic Hat's Circus Boy, and Hacker-Pschor.


I've had Magic Hat's Circus Boy and it is a lighter beer with no "bitter" aftertaste. Finding a beer that you like is a process, but that's part of the fun. It's also unique to everyone.

I can recommend beeradvocate.com as a review site if you are interested about reading about a particular beer before you try.

*** Otherwise...drink Keystone. They had that whole commercial campaign..."no bitter beer face".


*** By the way, never drink Keystone.
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Tue Jun 07, 2011 3:10 pm

I stumbled into a real winner. A Brit I play Day of Defeat: Source with recommended Boddington's. Its an ale with a nice hint of honey. Moreover, its got the nitrogen cartridge like Guiness, so it will always have a nice head on it.

I now love this beer.

But, if nothing else, I've really developed a taste for Bud Light with Lime. Yeah, it isn't a cool "guy beer" but I have yet to find anythign that goes as well with Mexican food. I never thought I'd replace Corona or XX.
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Tue Jun 07, 2011 3:13 pm

If you don't like being drunk, and you don't like beer, why do you want to drink it? If you are overheating you can always grab a nice cold soda or water can't you? ^ I second his opinion on budlight lime though
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Tue Jun 07, 2011 3:40 pm

bdwilcox wrote:I don't know...maybe I'm just looking for a beer that doesn't taste like beer.


Budweiser, that tastes like piss. :oops: sorry couldn't resist.

BTW if something is described as "Hoppy" I'd expect it to be very bitter (since it's the hops that makes it bitter).
"yeasty, malty, caramel, warm, nutty" I'd normally associate with darker beers. I only drink the stuff though so don't trust me.

Actually I would suggest you try some of the darker ones like stout or porter as they don't tend to be as bitter as the lighter beers. BUT they are a bit of an acquired taste anyway and not really ideal if you want to cool down!

This is a bit controversial I know, but no beer other than maybe some lagers should be drunk ice cold anyway and this is doubly true with dark beer, "Extra cold Guinness" is anathema to me :P

With the risk of appearing unmanly a nice cold shandy or larger top can be pretty refreshing on a hot day.

In terms of non beer based hard drinks for hot days you could try Bessen (berry gin) and orange juice. The only problem with this drink is that it tastes so good you'll get carried away and put yourself off orange juice as well as beer!
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Tue Jun 07, 2011 4:08 pm

BloodSoul wrote:If you don't like being drunk, and you don't like beer, why do you want to drink it? If you are overheating you can always grab a nice cold soda or water can't you? ^ I second his opinion on budlight lime though

Cold soda or water after working under the hot sun in the garden just isn't the same as an ice cold beer served in a thick, frozen glass mug. I got hooked on that by my dad who used to throw me a Molson Ice like this when I helped him clear the yard.

I also find that I like a nice beer when I eat rich, greasy foods like German sausages, as the sharpness of the beer cuts through the heaviness of the fare.

Finally, my past trauma with beer induced regurgitation has definitely tainted my attitude toward the brew. But there is something there that intrigues me and I find enjoyment in. Perhaps it recalls memories of better times. Or perhaps I'm just trying to figure out what makes people love the frothy concoction so much. It's like when someone points to a painting and cries because it's so beautiful and I just stand there slack-jawed thinking, "I don't get it."
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Tue Jun 07, 2011 4:27 pm

TheEmrys wrote:I stumbled into a real winner. A Brit I play Day of Defeat: Source with recommended Boddington's. Its an ale with a nice hint of honey. Moreover, its got the nitrogen cartridge like Guiness, so it will always have a nice head on it.

Isn't Boddington's full name Boddington's Bitter?!!?!!?! Are you trying to kill me? :cry:
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Tue Jun 07, 2011 4:33 pm

WalkCMD wrote:I can recommend beeradvocate.com as a review site if you are interested about reading about a particular beer before you try.

That's one of those sights that I looked at and ran away because of the incomprehensible, nebulous terminology they use that would make an audiophile blush. "Yes, this beer has a full-bodied chestnut fluffernutter with a bodacious, strangulating narfimulance. The head has a phantasmal stringiness to its blorbulence which sets it against the nutty overtones of its lambiculation." :o
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Tue Jun 07, 2011 4:35 pm

Well, as others have noted, "hoppiness" means bitterness, so you want to steer away from IPAs (especially "American style" IPAs, which pretty much describes every pale ale produced by American microbreweries). The problem you're going to run into is that the thirst-quenching ability of beer tends to be tied to its hoppiness, which is why sweet sodas are so unsatisfying (and even sweeter beers like Porters tend to be considered "winter" drinks).

You might want to try an alcoholic cider, particularly a "dry" apple or pear; the Canadian ones are still the best IMO but there are starting to be some decent American ones again (the original American ciders, along with their orchards, got wiped out during Prohibition). Stay away from anything that isn't dry and especially other fruit flavors, as they tend to be nasty-sweet. (Also beware that some have a higher alcohol content than mainstream beer). Of course there also are the other malt-liquor beverages in various flavors (hard lemonades, etc). But at that point you might as well give up and just embrace your inner wine cooler chick.

If you're sticking with beer, and want something that is thirst quenching but not too bitter, you may find something you like in traditional wheat or white ("wit") beers, such as Hefeweizens. Two that are relatively easy to find are Widmer Hefeweizen (US) and Hoegaarden (Belgian), but you can also find proper German imports like Franziskaner in bottles in the US these days. (At least my local grocery stocks them, but that may not be true everywhere)
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Tue Jun 07, 2011 4:43 pm

axeman wrote:Try some sort of Trappist/Belgian Ale. There's much less focus on hops in those styles AFAIK, so they're less bitter. If you don't like those, then, well, you don't like beer at all, and are likely mentally unstable. :P
Well, you have to be a bit careful there -- "Belgian" includes Lambic, which are very much an acquired taste for many people.
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Tue Jun 07, 2011 4:50 pm

http://haphappy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/beer.jpg

As mentioned before, hops make beer bitter. Judging by your tastes, you probably want to steer away from India Pale Ales (IPAs) and American Pale Ales, which tend to be very hoppy and bitter. French and German ales tend to be less bitter than British and American ones.

Lagers tend to be milder in flavour and chill well, especially the lighter lagers.

You may also want to try Lambics, which are usually fruit-flavoured and brewed without yeast. They are usually Belgian or French in origin.

If your brewer measures the bitterness of their beer with the International Bitterness Unit (IBU), that can be of help in helping you decide. A typical lager (not bitter) has 5 IBU, whereas a stout may have 50 IBU, and an IPA has 100 IBU. You should probably stay away from any beers (usually micro-brews) that have an IBU greater than 100 :P.

PS: A cold beer may cool you down, but it will probably also dehydrate you in the process. So don't forget to drink some water from time to time.

PPS: American brewers especially like to overhop their IPAs. I like a pint of good English bitter, but most American IPAs make me want to gag.

PPPS: Just looked at the side of my case of Michelob Amber Bock Dark Lager, and it lists its bitterness at 19 IBU.
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Tue Jun 07, 2011 5:14 pm

bdwilcox wrote:
TheEmrys wrote:I stumbled into a real winner. A Brit I play Day of Defeat: Source with recommended Boddington's. Its an ale with a nice hint of honey. Moreover, its got the nitrogen cartridge like Guiness, so it will always have a nice head on it.

Isn't Boddington's full name Boddington's Bitter?!!?!!?! Are you trying to kill me? :cry:


Bitter is just the term in England for Ale. It does not reflect the flavor. Its worth a try, though.
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Tue Jun 07, 2011 5:30 pm

cheesyking wrote:Actually I would suggest you try some of the darker ones like stout or porter as they don't tend to be as bitter as the lighter beers. BUT they are a bit of an acquired taste anyway and not really ideal if you want to cool down!

Any you could recommend by name and type?

cheesyking wrote:With the risk of appearing unmanly a nice cold shandy or larger top can be pretty refreshing on a hot day.

The shandy/larger top sounds intriguing. Are said concoctions readily available in North America or is that a European thing?

cheesyking wrote:In terms of non beer based hard drinks for hot days you could try Bessen (berry gin) and orange juice. The only problem with this drink is that it tastes so good you'll get carried away and put yourself off orange juice as well as beer!

Oh, orange juice is anathema to me also, as is vodka. Screwdrivers are the elixir of the devil. I was about 16 and we went to see Boston in Brendan Byrne Arena in the NJ Meadowlands for their Third Stage tour. They hadn't toured in almost a decade so we were totally psyched to see them in concert. We were tailgating in the parking lot when someone handed me a screwdriver that filled an entire carton of orange juice. Not only did I drink the whole thing and spill a huge orange stain on my white shirt, I also realized too late it was made with the worst quality Popov Polish potato vodka money could buy. So anyway, we get into our seats in the arena and the first band is awful. I mean really awful. The equivalent of sonic prison rape awful. As we waited to hear Boston we drank even more booze we had smuggled in (you could get away with that back then) and got rowdier and rowdier until the acoustic barbarians finally fled the stage. Suddenly Boston appeared on stage and the crowd went wild. They kept trying to play but the appreciative screams from the crowd held them at bay before they could even get a single note out. As this whole scenario unfolded, exhaustion from screaming and carrying on eventually caught up with me (not to mention the enormous screwdriver I had just imbibed). To keep from falling over, I sat down in my bleacher seat and leaned back, my head ringing from the roar of the crowd. The next thing I know, my friend is shaking me, telling me to get up, that it was time to go. I passed out and missed the entire concert. Not even a single note of Boston was heard by me. NOT A SINGLE NOTE! And now Brad Delp is dead and I'll never have the chance to hear them in concert. NEVER!!! DAMN YOU SCREWDRIVER!!!
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Tue Jun 07, 2011 5:38 pm

It's easy to make a shandy yourself just by mixing lemonade, ginger ale (preferably real ginger ale), etc, with a beer in some proportion you like. I recall seeing some bottled "Shandy" concotion once long ago but I don't know if they're still around (probably the Hard Lemonades have replaced them). Speaking of that, though, you might try a ginger beer. Several boutique varieties are being bottled these days. A couple I've tried were too intense on their own but made for a nice mixer with other things.
axeman wrote:Yeah I don't know the proper lingo. But seriously, other than the historicity of it, why would anyone want to drink that vile stuff (lambic) ?
Well, I don't know why anyone wants to drink extra-hoppy beer, but judging from the "Super Ultra Hopped with extra dry hops!" varieties so many American microbrewers sell, somebody wants it. (Though sometimes I wonder if that's just another form of misplaced sperm competition, like past-five-star spiciness wars amongst geeks at Thai restaurants).
Voldenuit wrote:You may also want to try Lambics, which are usually fruit-flavoured and brewed without yeast. They are usually Belgian or French in origin.
Actually, there is yeast involved, it's just that they use whatever falls into the pot, rather than carefully bred and conserved yeast varieties. Which is why it ends up sour, just like sourdough bread. Then they add various fruit flavors to hide/modify it. Not really something I'd recommend to someone who isn't entirely sold on beer as a beverage in the first place.

The thing about the IBU scale is that it doesn't always convey the subjective impression of a beer. A stout doesn't taste as bitter to me as its IBU might suggest, because the heavy sweetness counteracts or hides it. For that matter, my tolerance for hoppiness is much higher in hot weather than it is in the winter, and varies with the food I'm eating also. Ultimately there's really no substitute for trying different varieties to see what you like.

Although in bdwilcox's case, perhaps the answer is: don't have bad experiences with things when you're younger, or at least try to separate your memory of the experience from the beverage you were drinking at the time.
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Tue Jun 07, 2011 5:54 pm

The porters and stouts sound intriguing. I read that there is a difference between American and European style porters/stouts, though. Anyone know if one is more bitter than the other?

Finally, I've always heard about beer in England and Ireland that's so thick it would hold up a spoon (I imagine that's an exaggeration, but I get the point). What makes those beers so viscous? Is it all the yeast? And they seem to be generally dark in color. What makes them so dark?
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Tue Jun 07, 2011 6:05 pm

The color of beer is an indicator of what when into it. Take a specially (or not so) grown malt, roast it, and it can dark and will impart dark colors to beer.

A beer can be intensely hoppy without being bitter. You might find you like dry-hopped (hops added during or after fermentation) lager, for instance. It would be very "fresh" tasting instead of bitter. Boiled hops do impart bitterness to beer, which is why most "hoppy" beers are also bitter.

There is a bitterness scale you can use to help choose your beer.
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:30 pm

UberGerbil wrote:
Voldenuit wrote:You may also want to try Lambics, which are usually fruit-flavoured and brewed without yeast. They are usually Belgian or French in origin.
Actually, there is yeast involved, it's just that they use whatever falls into the pot, rather than carefully bred and conserved yeast varieties. Which is why it ends up sour, just like sourdough bread. Then they add various fruit flavors to hide/modify it. Not really something I'd recommend to someone who isn't entirely sold on beer as a beverage in the first place.


Heh, actually I'm not much for beer myself but I like me some fruit-flavored lambic. As usual, your taste may vary.

I've not been brave enough to try actual Gueuze yet.
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Tue Jun 07, 2011 9:49 pm

Given your sad stories of underage drinking and the never good consequences I'm thinking perhaps you just shouldn't drink at all...if not I won't be surprised when you post another such story but it will begin with 'Last week..' :p
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Tue Jun 07, 2011 10:06 pm

Hey! I underage drink more gooder than that! If you're classy (careful) it's a great time.
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Wed Jun 08, 2011 1:06 am

cheesyking wrote:BTW if something is described as "Hoppy" I'd expect it to be very bitter (since it's the hops that makes it bitter).

Yeah, in general hoppy beers tend to be more bitter, though this isn't *always* the case. Depending on how they're used hops can add bitterness, or they can add floral/citrusy/spicy/earthy (depending on type of hops) flavors and/or aromas.

cheesyking wrote:"yeasty, malty, caramel, warm, nutty" I'd normally associate with darker beers. I only drink the stuff though so don't trust me.

Agree on all except the "yeasty"; any beer (light or dark) can be yeasty, and Weizens (which can be fairly light) are some of the yeastiest beers out there since they are almost always unfiltered and bottled with active yeast.

cheesyking wrote:Actually I would suggest you try some of the darker ones like stout or porter as they don't tend to be as bitter as the lighter beers. BUT they are a bit of an acquired taste anyway and not really ideal if you want to cool down!

Guinness is actually lower in calories and alcohol than you'd think; but it can be somewhat bitter from the roasted malt so perhaps not the best bet here.

TheEmrys wrote:
bdwilcox wrote:Isn't Boddington's full name Boddington's Bitter?!!?!!?! Are you trying to kill me? :cry:

Bitter is just the term in England for Ale. It does not reflect the flavor. Its worth a try, though.

Yup. Most Bitters aren't actually all that bitter.

UberGerbil wrote:
axeman wrote:Yeah I don't know the proper lingo. But seriously, other than the historicity of it, why would anyone want to drink that vile stuff (lambic) ?

Well, I don't know why anyone wants to drink extra-hoppy beer, but judging from the "Super Ultra Hopped with extra dry hops!" varieties so many American microbrewers sell, somebody wants it.

I tell people that Lambics (the authentic ones) are kind of like the blue cheese of the beer world. Why would anyone want to eat moldy cheese? Because some people like the aroma and flavor of it! Like blue cheese, Lambics are a bit of an acquired taste.

There are also some Belgian ales that have the tartness without the Lambic funk; these are typically aged in wooden barrels that have natural lactobacillus living in the pores of the wood. Anything that says it is "Flanders style" is likely to be in this vein.

I like extra hoppy on occasion; but it has to be balanced with enough malt to make it bitter-sweet. If a beer tastes like I am chewing on a raw hop cone, that's simply not pleasant!

bdwilcox wrote:The porters and stouts sound intriguing. I read that there is a difference between American and European style porters/stouts, though. Anyone know if one is more bitter than the other?

For anything other than the mass-produced swill from the big commercial breweries (which is essentially watered down Pilsner), American micro/craft-brewed versions of most styles tend to be more bitter/hoppy than their European counterparts.

You might like some of the Baltic Porters -- Okocim, Utenos, Baltika #6 -- if you can find them. Dark, malty, but tend to go fairly easy on the roasted malt and hops compared to other Porters.

bdwilcox wrote:Finally, I've always heard about beer in England and Ireland that's so thick it would hold up a spoon (I imagine that's an exaggeration, but I get the point). What makes those beers so viscous? Is it all the yeast? And they seem to be generally dark in color. What makes them so dark?

It's an exaggeration. In fact, draft Guinness is pretty thin (though it can have a thick creamy head similar to whipped cream; this is due to the special tap used to serve it). Thicker/heavier beers get their character from lots of malt (which leads to lots of residual unfermented sugars). Dark beers get their characteristic color and flavor from dark roasted and/or caramelized malt.

bthylafh wrote:I've not been brave enough to try actual Gueuze yet.

Not for the faint of heart. Most of them are intensely sour and funky. Oh, and if you drink an entire glass of it, a few hours later you will likely start passing some of the most foul-smelling intestinal gas you've ever experienced! :lol:

If you're still curious, I suggest finding a few other people who are interested in trying it, and splitting a bottle.

I've been known to imbibe in a little Gueuze on occasion, but tend to do so only rarely due to the fact that it tends to be rather expensive, not to mention the above mentioned gaseous aftereffects...

***

To the OP, I leave you with this: http://www.bjcp.org/2008styles/catdex.php

While the descriptions are rather technical, you should still be able to get a feel for the sort of flavors associated with each style. The IBU numbers will also give you a rough idea of relative bitterness (higher IBUs = more bitterness). You can look at the FG numbers too if you want; FG will give you some idea of the residual sugar content. A beer with lots of residual sugar can *seem* less bitter, even if it has a higher IBU number. (FG < 1.010 is a fairly dry beer; FG > 1.020 is sweet; most are in the 1.010 to 1.020 range.)

[Really geeky stuff: The IBU number actually represents parts-per-million of bitter hop acids dissolved in the beer. FG is the specific gravity, i.e. the density of the fermented beer, where pure water is assigned a density of 1.0.]

Hey, it's kind of like choosing a video card or CPU -- it helps to look at the detailed technical specs if you want to make sure you get what you want!
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Wed Jun 08, 2011 1:42 am

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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Wed Jun 08, 2011 1:47 am

If you can get it, Lefthand Canyon Brewery (Boulder, CO) makes a milk stout that's a bit malty, very lightly sweetened from the residual milk sugars, and generally flavorful without being particularly bitter. However, even the local liquor stores have a hard time keeping it in stock, so I'm not sure how far it's distributed.

Maybe another brewery closer to you offers something in the same vein?
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Wed Jun 08, 2011 2:07 am

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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Wed Jun 08, 2011 5:57 am

I've never been much into beer, particularly the more bitter ones. I would recommend you try Session Lager.
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Wed Jun 08, 2011 6:15 am

just brew it! wrote:
cheesyking wrote:Actually I would suggest you try some of the darker ones like stout or porter as they don't tend to be as bitter as the lighter beers. BUT they are a bit of an acquired taste anyway and not really ideal if you want to cool down!

Guinness is actually lower in calories and alcohol than you'd think; but it can be somewhat bitter from the roasted malt so perhaps not the best bet here.

Yeah I suppose they are still quite bitter, but it is a different kind of bitter. Personally I find the super hoppy bitter beers to be like headaches in a glass while the bitter in porter to be much less in-your-face. Either way if you don't like Guinness you won't like porter and these are cold weather beers anyway.

just brew it! wrote:
TheEmrys wrote:
bdwilcox wrote:Isn't Boddington's full name Boddington's Bitter?!!?!!?! Are you trying to kill me? :cry:

Bitter is just the term in England for Ale. It does not reflect the flavor. Its worth a try, though.

Yup. Most Bitters aren't actually all that bitter.

Indeed, Boddington's (and Tetley's / John Smith's) is a particularly mild tasting bitter. Actually I'm going to be a bit snobby about them and compare them to mass produced beers like Fosters though I think at least some Boddington's and Tetley's beers do qualify as "real ale". If any of these seemed promising then have a look for some of the better traditional British session beers like Young's (Ordinary or Special), Fuller's (London Pride or ESB). (I just picked those two breweries as they're ones I believe are available in the States). Though British beer does tend to be more suited to a colder climate than I think you live in.


just brew it! wrote:
bdwilcox wrote:The porters and stouts sound intriguing. I read that there is a difference between American and European style porters/stouts, though. Anyone know if one is more bitter than the other?

For anything other than the mass-produced swill from the big commercial breweries (which is essentially watered down Pilsner), American micro/craft-brewed versions of most styles tend to be more bitter/hoppy than their European counterparts.

I've heard people say this is a hang-over (pardon the pun) from prohibition... All the small breweries went out of business and after prohibition was lifted the whole market was dominated by big companies producing bland rubbish. Now that the small brewers are coming back they tend to go to the other extreme of eye crossingly strong flavours. Don't know if there's any truth in that.


just brew it! wrote:
bdwilcox wrote:Finally, I've always heard about beer in England and Ireland that's so thick it would hold up a spoon (I imagine that's an exaggeration, but I get the point). What makes those beers so viscous? Is it all the yeast? And they seem to be generally dark in color. What makes them so dark?

It's an exaggeration. In fact, draft Guinness is pretty thin (though it can have a thick creamy head similar to whipped cream; this is due to the special tap used to serve it). Thicker/heavier beers get their character from lots of malt (which leads to lots of residual unfermented sugars). Dark beers get their characteristic color and flavor from dark roasted and/or caramelized malt.

Interesting you mention those special taps... They are a modern thing, I was talking to a guy who grew up in Ireland in the 60s/70s who said back then pubs had to keep 5-10 half poured pints on the bar as it took Guinness forever to settle (much longer than the "119.53 seconds" Guinness talk about in their advertising these days). Presumably this is to do with it coming in pressurised casks now :-?

clone wrote:food at the first event was pasta with a shank of beef tenderloin and asparagus for any interested as beer really goes best with beef, there was also lasagna for those who wanted even more.

My favourite beer/food combo is a nice pint of porter with a pie or pasty. mmmm
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Wed Jun 08, 2011 6:42 am

Without being a troll, I think you should at least think about how much of your desire to like beer is about wanting to fit in with your peers. It's very easy to be surrounded by people drinking beer (or beer-related posts in this case) and think to yourself "self, there must just be something about this beer thing that I don't get so I'll keep trying them until I do get it". You also don't feel like a dork if you are standing in the middle of party with a beer in your hand rather than a water.

Like you, I get a craving for a beer about once every two years or so on a nice hot summer day to wash down a burger or something like that. By the time I'm half way through the bottle, I have remembered how much I really don't like beer. Trust me...it's totally okay to be an adult male and not like beer. There are plenty of us--and while some of us probably hide that fact, many of us don't.

Don't get me wrong--there are lots of cliques. You have the beer clique, the motorcycle clique, the gun clique, the wine clique, the tobacco clique--it goes on and on. I'm just suggesting that, when you find yourself continuing to search for a beer that does not exist, that you think to yourself "well...this beer thing is just like clique X that I also don't go for. I have no problem opting out of clique X, so I'll just do the same with the beer clique and be totally fine with it."
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:03 am

cheesyking wrote:
just brew it! wrote:For anything other than the mass-produced swill from the big commercial breweries (which is essentially watered down Pilsner), American micro/craft-brewed versions of most styles tend to be more bitter/hoppy than their European counterparts.

I've heard people say this is a hang-over (pardon the pun) from prohibition... All the small breweries went out of business and after prohibition was lifted the whole market was dominated by big companies producing bland rubbish. Now that the small brewers are coming back they tend to go to the other extreme of eye crossingly strong flavours. Don't know if there's any truth in that.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure there's some truth to that. The craft beer revolution was largely a reaction (and some would argue an over-reaction) to the "dumbing down" of American beer.

I've also heard that World War II was a factor. With so many men off to war, the remaining breweries had to cater to a new demographic -- women -- to grow their business. So the light, bland swill that the big breweries still pass off as beer was actually the original "chick beer".

cheesyking wrote:Interesting you mention those special taps... They are a modern thing, I was talking to a guy who grew up in Ireland in the 60s/70s who said back then pubs had to keep 5-10 half poured pints on the bar as it took Guinness forever to settle (much longer than the "119.53 seconds" Guinness talk about in their advertising these days). Presumably this is to do with it coming in pressurised casks now :-?

I'm assuming he's talking about an "old school" beer engine setup, where the beer is pulled from casks in the cellar (via suction) instead of being pushed by gas pressure. The special nozzle (sparkler) is actually independent of whether the beer is pushed or pulled.

Guinness is also pressurized with a special mix of gas (CO2 and nitrogen instead of just CO2), because nitrogen is less soluble in beer. This allows the beer to be pushed without causing it to over-carbonate...

cjcerny wrote:Don't get me wrong--there are lots of cliques. You have the beer clique, the motorcycle clique, the gun clique, the wine clique, the tobacco clique--it goes on and on. I'm just suggesting that, when you find yourself continuing to search for a beer that does not exist, that you think to yourself "well...this beer thing is just like clique X that I also don't go for. I have no problem opting out of clique X, so I'll just do the same with the beer clique and be totally fine with it."

Well... I tend to think that most people who say they don't like beer just haven't found a beer they like yet. But at the end of the day if you're only drinking it to fit in with your peers (or to get drunk), I agree there isn't much point. And some people just don't like the taste of barley malt; given that even wheat beers generally have a fairly substantial percentage of barley in them, not liking the taste of barley probably rules out 99.9% of the beers on the market.
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Wed Jun 08, 2011 9:00 am

Youc can allways drink a pale ale.. try Rolling Rock. Or maybe a Pabst Blue Ribbon.. I know alot of people here will gag at that thought of it. It seems its a test of manhood at times how dark and bitter of a beer you can drink without making a sour face. Somtimes its just nice to have a drink..
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:52 am

cjcerny wrote:I'm assuming he's talking about an "old school" beer engine setup, where the beer is pulled from casks in the cellar (via suction) instead of being pushed by gas pressure. The special nozzle (sparkler) is actually independent of whether the beer is pushed or pulled.


but, but, that's not old school, that's just how it should be :lol:
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Re: Looking for a Beer Guide - Especially for bitterness

Postposted on Wed Jun 08, 2011 11:26 am

cjcerny wrote:Without being a troll, I think you should at least think about how much of your desire to like beer is about wanting to fit in with your peers. It's very easy to be surrounded by people drinking beer (or beer-related posts in this case) and think to yourself "self, there must just be something about this beer thing that I don't get so I'll keep trying them until I do get it".

Well, considering I hate parties, prefer to be by myself, usually have a drink with a meal when I'm alone, don't like the feeling of being drunk, and don't care what other people think of me, I would have to say peer pressure is the least of it. I think it's more about the desire to understand what so many people have seen in beer throughout the ages. To me it's more or less a historical inquiry considering beer brewing is as old as written history and probably older. If it's been around and loved that long, there must be something to it and I feel like I'm missing something, so I keep searching. There have been times when beer has appealed to me, whether it's on a hot day or with a heavy meal, so it's not like I'm torturing myself in that quest.

As just brew it! said, "I tend to think that most people who say they don't like beer just haven't found a beer they like yet" is my mantra on this one. Prior to this, I couldn't understand what people saw in wine (another historical beverage) until I tried a bunch of wines and finally found one I liked. Incidentally, the wine I like most 'wine snobs people' hate and wrinkle their nose up when I tell them what it is. I actually enjoy watching this reaction, so fitting in with my peers is the least of it.
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