The three most common questions I get asked go something like this:
“I’m new to craft beer and not sure what I’ll like, what do you suggest?”
“My (insert relationship here) hates beer, what should I have them try that they might like?”
“My (insert relationship here) only drinks (insert mass produced domestic here), what craft beer should I have them try that they might like?”
These are actually more difficult questions than they sound, because everyone’s palate is different and there is no single beer that will magically make them love craft beer. The individual also has to be curious about craft beer and willing to try new things, forcing new beers on them will go about as smooth as trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. If we do happen to nail it on the first try and the person loves the beer chosen for them it probably won’t stick, it’ll take time for them to develop a taste and appreciation for craft beer. We are creatures of habit, if we find something we like we’ll stick to it, it’s safe and comfortable, breaking habits can be difficult; trying new things is absolutely terrifying.
Here is a list of Maine brewed beers that I have suggested others try as stepping stones to the world of craft, they range in style and availability but at any given point you should be able to find one of these on tap or in bottle.
Allagash, White: this will be the most widely available on this list, not hard to find a bottle and can be found on tap even in chain restaurants. A Belgian style Wheat that is crisp and refreshing, spiced with coriander and curacao orange peels, a must try for those new to craft.
Penobscot Bay Brewing, Humble B: this light lager is brewed with wheat; freshly ground ginger and local Maine honey. Humble B is one of those beers that just goes down easy and will go over well with the light beer crowd.
Atlantic Brewing Company, Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale: I’m not a fan of fruit beers; I don’t like it in or on my beer but when I was young in the ways of craft beer the path was littered with blueberry, raspberry and apricot flavored beers. Atlantic’s Blueberry is the only one in the State that my wife ranks 5 star on Untappd, it’s a good one.
Sebago Brewing, Runabout Red: Runabout Red is slightly sweet, malt forward beer with a light hoppy finish, pair this up with a slice of pizza or some barbeque and I’m sure you’ll win them over.
Rising Tide, Maine Island Trail Ale: this one may be a gamble as it is an IPA but it’s worth a shot, light, crisp and flavorful this Session IPA weighs in at 4.3% ABV and pairs well with hot summer days.
Oak Pond Brewing, Nut Brown Ale: a smooth, creamy brown ale with a nutty, coffee flavor. I cut my teeth on brown ales, this was one of them.
Oxbow, Space Cowboy: this is a beer I get lost in, if there are 10 other beers on tap that I’ve never had and I order this first at the end of the night there will still be 10 other beers on tap I’ve never had. This 4% ABV Farmhouse ale drinks so easy you’ll be sorry you told your friend you’d buy all their beers as long as they were craft.
This list is a good mix of styles and flavors, you should be able to find something in there for those new to craft beer, but I like I said before, it takes time to acquire a taste for craft beer so don’t be offended if they switch back to their safe, comfortable beer, they’ll come around.
In a few instances I have come across individuals who absolutely detest the flavor of beer (I’m looking at you Amber), and that’s ok, they are who they are, they like what they like, so respect their personal preference and pass the vodka.