Saturday, February 16, 2013

Craft Beer Conversion?

I think sometimes with craft beer, it's tempting to want to win new converts to those great beers you love.  The people that you're trying to convert aren't people who don't have an interest in beer but rather those who drink the macro products (Coors, Budweiser, Miller, etc.).  You want to show them that, hey, you say you like beer, but try this one, which will blow away what you think about beer and make you see even the blue sky above you in a different way!  Maybe this might work in some cases, but in general, I think this is a faulty approach.  In fact, I'm not even sure any approach is necessary.

The fact is, many people just like what they're currently drinking and aren't looking to make a change.  They find it tasty and refreshing.   It's the perfect thing for them at the end of a long day or week.  Maybe it's economical for them.  Complexities and nuances in flavor might not be anything they're concerned with.  There are likely many different reasons.  Why not just let them enjoy what they enjoy and you enjoy what you enjoy?

For me, I think the best thing for the craft beer lover is to continually try different beers and gain knowledge about beer.  Develop your palate and learn about the various styles,  the history of beer, what's going on with contemporary beer, and the process behind making beer even if you don't intend to ever make any yourself.  That way, if a conversation turns to beer, you'll be well prepared and represent what you like quite well, and maybe this will help people see craft beer in a different light.  In my opinion, being a craft beer ambassador is more important than trying to convert people.

If you're still really bent on converting, I think you have to view getting people to craft beer as a gradual process.  If someone has not gone beyond, say, Coors Light, do you think they're going to like a Green Flash Palate Wrecker the first time they have one?  If someone's experience with stout begins and ends with Guinness, do you think they'll appreciate a Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout?  Consider how you got into craft beer and work from that.

I think the Samuel Adams regular line of beers provides a good gateway into craft (particularly Boston Lager, one of The Classics, all of which are a good starting point), and they're available pretty much everywhere (which may have already laid the groundwork for you--how many non-craft beer drinkers have at least had a Sam Adams?). New Belgium Fat Tire is another good gateway beer too.  During the fall season, the various pumpkin beers that are available could serve as nice entries as well, as they combine some familiar flavors with some solid if muted beer tastes.  

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