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What Kind of Craft Beer Drinker Are You?

I was thinking this morning that I have gone through some sort of craft beer metamorphosis.  I have always been a non-macro guy.  I think that is the case ever since I had my first Sam Adams Boston Lager back in about 1985.  I remember trying it and thinking wow beer can be this good.  But I never really got into it much until Winter of 2009.  Yes, I am that new to the “Big” world of craft beer.  Before that I always looked for things on tap like Sierra Nevada or George Killians.  Still pretty tame, but better than BMC.

Well then we began this blog in August of 2009 and Jim would put up all these posts about different beers, but at the time I was really the whiskey guy, and we kind of had more defined roles.  But still his posts were very intriguing.  Just some of the flavor profiles, etc seemed really interesting, so I thought what the heck, I’ll start trying some of these beers.  Well it was a total fit, and I have embraced craft beer ever since.  Don’t get me wrong, I am still a total whiskey nerd but I now have two loves, Craft Beer and Whiskey…

Once I got into craft beer my goal was to try as many different brews as possible.  And try I did.  I’ve probably had at least 200 different craft beers in the last year, with a seemingly endless array of new things from which to choose .  And that is where I was for a long time, trying a lot of new beers, and reviewing a bunch of them, and just trying to stretch my palate to learn all I could about the flavors that are out there.

But I have had two major realizations here in the last couple of weeks.  First, I can’t possibly drink all the beer that is out there, and even if I tried, I think my palate would get confused and I’d forget a lot more than I remember.  Second, and this is the big “Aha”,  I want a go to beer.  See I did something the other night that I haven’t done since I began my journey.  I bought a 12 pack.  I know it sounds crazy right…12 of the same beers?  What was I thinking?

Well here is exactly what I was thinking.  I have gone past the point of just drinking different beers for the new experience to a point where sometimes I just want a beer.  I don’t want to think about it and ponder its virtues, I just want to have a good beer, in a can (very important to conserve fridge space) and pretty accessible.  I have chosen Ranger IPA as my go to canned brew.  There are better IPAs out there for sure, but I like this one and it doesn’t break the bank, it goes good with meals, and it is an easy sipper.  At 6.6% ABV it isn’t a session beer, but I can have a 12 oz can with dinner and not feel any ill effects.

So there you have it.  I’m still enjoying all the new stuff that comes out, but I also sometimes just want something familiar and something where I don’t have to think about it, I can just enjoy a nice refreshing brew.

How about you?  Are you in it for all the new beers you can try, or do you keep a running supply of something familiar in the fridge?  Let me know in the comments.

-Don

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42 Comments on “What Kind of Craft Beer Drinker Are You?”

  1. April 28, 2011 at 9:39 am #

    I’m a mix of both. I keep stock of some mainstays, but I’m constantly on the prowl for new stuff.

  2. Don
    April 28, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    I think that is where I am at too Scooter. What is new for me is keeping the stock of mainstays. Before it was just a beer menagerie in my fridge. I like this better. There is something reassuring about having a go to beer in the fridge.

  3. 1Time4got
    April 28, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    Don,

    Great expression of your evolution as a craft beer drinker and I’m much the same, because for as much as I enjoy sampling as many different beers as I can, there’s something to be said for having a go-t0 beer. It’s like comfort food, because you know exactly what you’re getting from it and it never lets you down.

    It’s never a good thing when a new beer has you spitting it out after the first sip and the best thing to get that bad taste out of your mouth is your go-to beer. Mine happens to be Ridgetop Red from the Silver City Brewing Company in Silverdale, Wash., but I can only get it four times a year when I head to Silverdale to see my son. Nothing like enjoying time with your son during the day and a great beer after he finally goes to sleep at night.

    • Don
      April 28, 2011 at 9:48 am #

      Sounds like a good go to. For me it was important to have a go to that was in a can. They are just so darn convenient, and even though I always use a glass and don’t save empties, there is never a good place for bottles in the fridge. They get knocked over, I even had my son break a bottle of Laughing Dog Dogfather last year, and I almost cried. So can’s really help in that regard.

  4. Kenneth Willetts
    April 28, 2011 at 9:46 am #

    Same here. I have 4 mainstays in my fridge…Sun King Osiris, Three Floyds Alpha King, Fore Smoked Stout by Dark Horse and Upland Wheat. ( I tend to keep and Orval or 5 handy as well) However, I am still on the road to trying everything I come across. It can get mind boggling and expensive, but I think the journey is well worth it. Mine has taken me into sours, which I love but if I just want a beer, I at least need a small selection.

    • Don
      April 28, 2011 at 9:59 am #

      I hear you Ken, I have been getting into sours a little lately as well. Probably one of my favorites right now is Lips of Faith Vreinden. It is an easy drinking not too complex sour that isn’t over the top as far as the pucker factor is concerned. Those sound like some really nice mainstays too. I think if I had four to choose from though it would be harder to decide what I was in the mood for.

  5. Jake
    April 28, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    I almost always keep a 6 or 12 pack of something familiar in the fridge. I live in an area where good craft beer is hard to come by. Basically I’ve tried all of the beers that small New Castle Indiana has to offer. I’ll fill a growler or buy something new when I make it to Indianapolis. My favorite fridge stock beers are Bell’s Two Hearted and Sierra Nevada Torpedo. Delicious and easy to get at my local store. I do the same thing with whisky/whiskey. I’d love to sip Laphroaig 30 year in the evenings, but some of The Glenlivet will do just fine in my cabinet most days. Especially since the Laphroaig is $499 a bottle. Thanks for a great article!

    • Don
      April 28, 2011 at 10:03 am #

      Those are some pretty coveted mainstays Jake! Well at least the Bells is anyway. I have been doing the same with whiskey forever. My mainstay has recently changed however. It was Knob Creek for a long time, but then I found a whiskey I like better and it is about $13 cheaper per bottle. I now have Old Weller Antique as my house whiskey. But I do have some really nice bourbons and ryes in my collection.

      • Jake
        April 28, 2011 at 10:10 am #

        I’ve always been a fan of Scotch Whisky and Irish Whiskey. For the most part I keep a bottle of Jameson, The Glenlivet, and Johnnie Walker around for different moods. I’ve never been able to get into bourbon, but I did have my first Rye about a week ago at a friends house with a GIANT whisky and whiskey collection (probably Jim Beam?). I was so intrigued by the flavor. I look forward to trying more (better) ryes in the future.

        • Don
          April 28, 2011 at 10:19 am #

          Yeah, if it was Beam there are a lot better ryes out there. One of my favorites is Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Old Rye. Nice stuff with almost a fruity undercurrent. Great for an every day drinker.

  6. Evan
    April 28, 2011 at 9:58 am #

    After years of trying to find beers that out-do each other.. I’m really gaining an appreciation for the every day “session” beers. In my beer fridge, what this usually means is that I have a good homebrew lager or pale ale on tap for when I just “want a beer.”

    I also have a few go-to’s that I usually keep around: Full Sail “Session Black,” Maritime Pacific’s “Nightwatch,” and good ol Boston Lager.

    • Don
      April 28, 2011 at 10:06 am #

      I had one of the Full Sail Session Blacks, and I wasn’t really in love with it. To me it just tasted like a macro lager but it was black. Can’t beat the price though. I can get it here in Idaho for $1 a bottle. I will say, however that those bottles are much more convenient than the long necks that most beer comes in. Love Boston Lager too. Never tried the nightwatch before. I’ll have to look for it.

      • Evan
        April 28, 2011 at 10:30 am #

        I think you need to give the Session Black another chance. It’s a great example of a schwarzbier/black lager. It’s not supposed to be a big, bold beer like a stout or porter. Black lagers are basically a pilsner, but with some debittered black malt to give it a slight roastiness.

        • Don
          April 28, 2011 at 10:35 am #

          Well when you twist my arm so hard…ok uncle. I’ll try it. Perhaps it was an expectation kind of thing too. I think I was expecting something with a much heavier malt presence, kind of like 21st Amendment’s Back in Black.

  7. April 28, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    Don,

    an excellent post and I could not agree more. It’s easy to become a kid in a candy shop and develop a sense of snobbery when you are hunting those great whale ales (though I’m sure there are some highly-coveted lagers out there as well). The catch 22 that I have found is that the more I go on one of those kicks (of the 7-days-a-week-7-different-breweries-with-A- ratings variety) the more I want to keep trying new beers I’ve never had and the less money I have in my bank account. There is something to be said for beer monogamy (in the form of a 12 pack at least) and the refreshing return to something you know and love. For me, this is Port City’s Porter and for the fiancee it is Port City’s Wit. Soon it will be DC Brau’s Public Ale in a can. All three are being served at our wedding.

    Cheers!

    -Mike

    • Don
      April 28, 2011 at 10:17 am #

      Hey Mike, congratulations on the upcoming nuptials. When is it, so we can have a countdown like the royals? Those sound great. For me it is most important that it is in a can. I share space in the family overflow fridge in the garage, and with people in and out of it all day, and space being at a premium, cans are just way more convenient. The other stuff I keep in boxes on the floor of the garage. Not ideal but when I want one I take it out of the box and put it in the fridge for an hour or so. That is another reason cans are so convenient, I don’t have to think ahead and put it in the fridge it is always there and cold.

  8. April 28, 2011 at 10:21 am #

    Hmmm my go-to beer … I don’t think I’m there yet. Having sad that, I certainly have times where I don’t want to think too hard about the beer I’m drinking—past couple of weeks actually (not many tweet reviews from me lately, if you haven’t noticed). In that case I’ll check the fridge or the bunker for something I’ve had before and know that I enjoy. But that could be a lot of things really. I’ve actually enjoyed a few bottles of Un*Earthly that way the past couple of weeks.

    I wish someone would put an affordable Saison in a 120z bottle or even a can. Call me whacky, but I think I could wrap my head around a go-to Saison this summer.

    • Don
      April 28, 2011 at 10:33 am #

      Well Chad, you are in luck. Sam Adams is putting out a spring/summer seasonal release Saison. I shared one with Morgan last time we were at Brewforia together and it wasn’t half bad. Very sessionable at about 4.2% and I thought pretty pleasant. Not real complex, but something that you could just enjoy without thinking too much about it. I actually thought about you when I put this post together because I don’t think I’ve ever seen you drink the same beer twice.

      • April 28, 2011 at 10:42 am #

        Awww … shucks, Don. Thanks for thinking of me. I’ll try to think of you tomorrow and remember to bring that Ivan. I thought about putting it in my bag this morning and then promptly forgot. :^(

        • Don
          April 28, 2011 at 10:59 am #

          I’ll try to remember the Pannepot tomorrow as well.

  9. April 28, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    I think I cycle between “go for what’s new” and “tried and true.” I’m entering a tried and true phase right now, at least until I see something interesting at the beer store.

    • Don
      April 28, 2011 at 10:54 am #

      I think your Tried and True phase coincides with trips to the lake and purchasing 12 packs of Dales.

  10. April 28, 2011 at 10:44 am #

    I go back and forth on this, but I think I’ll always do a little of both. The issue for me is that I like to pair my beers with food. So, keeping an IPA, Saison (usually Boulevard’s Tank 7, now that they come in 12 oz.), stout or porter, and always a steady supply of aging Barley Wines is important for me. Lately, though, I’ve been only purchasing new beers as it seems like Missouri is getting a new brewery once a month. Eventually, I’ll settle in on some regulars, I’m leaning Stone Ruination at the moment. However, I’ll always keep my eye out for whatever is new.

    Then, there’s the home brewing which has taken ahold of me again. I have an IPA in primary at the moment with an eye on my next three batches. Unless I start buying a lot more new beer, I may keep myself stocked that way.

    • Don
      April 28, 2011 at 10:59 am #

      Well Zac, it is good to have options, and it seems you have plenty of those.

      • April 28, 2011 at 11:02 am #

        Yeah, the only trouble with that is I have been cutting back in an effort to be healthier and save some money. #1stworldproblem

        • Don
          April 28, 2011 at 11:06 am #

          Well Zac, I suppose you could look at it that way, or you could say this is a necessary investment in knowledge. Like an adult school tax.

  11. April 28, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    Since I usually buy for the week, I’ll go with two sixers of mainstays and one sixer of something new (the wife gets one six pack to round out to a case). I have quite a few mainstays, number one being Avery IPA, followed closely by Ska’s Modus Hopperandi, Dales, and Lagunita’s IPA round out the regulars; sometimes I’ll toss in something from Victory depending on which liquor store I’m at. If I’ve just visited a brewery, I’ll toss in a sixer of their’s as well. Which reminds me of a few other mainstays like Steamworks Third Eye, Bristol’s Compass IPA, anything from Del Norte … I think I’ll stop now 🙂

    • Don
      April 28, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

      So Wil, would you characterize yourself as a hop head? Lots of IPAs in your mainstays.

      • April 28, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

        You got me. But depending on my mood and the time of the year I also like pilsners, ESBs, and the occasional stout. I think I commented before on Avery’s Joe’s Pilsner. The Del Norte mentioned in my comment above brews nothing but Mexican style beers, hopefully they’ll distribute to your neck of the woods soon.

        • Don
          April 28, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

          That would be really interesting if Del Norte would distribute to Idaho. We have a lot of Mexican population, and my son really likes Mexican beer. He often asks me what gives Mexican beer its flavor, and all I can think about is the water they use, but truth is I don’t know. Do you? How do Mexican beers get their slightly unique flavor?

      • April 28, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

        I’m not completely sure what gives them their uniqueness. Since they are often lighter in flavor, I would surmise less malt is a big factor. I plan on visiting them in the near future and will post it on my blog with an answer. Good question!

        • Don
          April 28, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

          Thanks Will. Let me know when it is posted. 🙂

    • April 28, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

      Oh, by the way, Ranger is also one of my mainstays. 😉

  12. April 28, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    Sierra Nevada Pale or SN Torpedo are my go to craft beers (followed by Sam Adams lager on tap, when on the road). But, my home brewed Citra IPA remains my favorite.

  13. April 28, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

    That’s a dangerous question. Dangerous because I have far too much work to do today and even though I have my two “assistants”, aka, girls with me on Take Your Child To Work Day, I’m not finding their efforts as helpful as I had hoped – but far more enjoyable.

    Anyway, Like many of us (I presume), I’m very much like you. Ever since starting my journey to craft beer geekdom in California circa 1984 I’ve enjoyed trying as many beers as I could find (and reasonably afford). I still head out on “research assignments” to craft beer stores and local bars in and around Philly to find new beers and sometimes rediscover old favorites. More often than not, I pick up or order something new but at least once a week I look forward to a familiar favorite. Like you, it doesn’t always have to be something exceptional – just a brew that I’ve come to rely on as solid, flavorful and consistent.

    The last two nights were great examples. I went to one of my local shops in search of the Lat 48 Deconstruced box (apparently still not available on the East Coast – or in NJ) and instead of walking away empty handed, I went right to one of my old standby brews – Anchor Libery Ale. Not a world-class craft beer by today’s standards but always reliable, versatile and refreshing. I put Stone IPA, Victory Hop Devil, Stoudts American Pale and a few others in that category.

    Then again, perhaps the whole point of trying the new ones is so that I can find a few more to put in the go-to locker…

    Cheers!
    @TheAlemonger

    • Don
      April 28, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

      Sorry your “assistants” aren’t really helping your production today. But yes, I’m sure it is far more enjoyable than a typical day. Those are great go tos. I’m certain I’m not going to stop exploring, but I felt like I was needing a good relaxing brew. It is hard to be “on” all the time. My Ranger IPA is like the romantic comedy of beer, I don’t have to think too much about it, and at the end I feel good and I’m glad I drank it.

  14. Dal_ri
    April 28, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    I range from am an explorer to a comfort guy – my hometown has a micro that does a beer called Sequoia Red that I always come back to, but Howie and Son’s Pizza always has a rotation of at least 8 beers that I’ve never tried, plus an additional 5-6 that I could never find on tap anywhere else. With prices at $2-4 a pint or half pint, I can’t help but expand my horizons – it’s like travel without the hassle, for my taste buds.

    • Don
      April 28, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

      With that kind of set up I might be an explorer a lot more too. I do sometimes get to my Beer store that has about 9 taps going at any one time. Mostly regional brews, but some pretty great beer. I think the favorite I’ve had there was a White Wine Saison that was aged in Chardonnay barrels from Teton Brewing. It was very unusual and very good. Problem I have is I live 30 miles away, so I ALWAYS have to be good.

  15. April 28, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

    There’s definitely a running supply of the familiar stuff in my fridge. I’m always game for new products, but I’m a lot pickier about which styles and brewers I’ll try than I used to be. As much as I wish I did the newer stuff often, I’d say I might get one new beer per month. And that’s up quite a bit from where it was 12 months ago. My beer geek best friend just moved to town 2 months ago, and my beer geek brother just moved to town a year ago. Those two (and discovering BWB) have been huge catalysts for sparking my desire to try new products.

    • Don
      April 28, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

      Funny, John seems like we are running in opposite directions. You run with mainstays and are looking into new brews, and I run with new brews and am looking for mainstays. I guess there is no right or wrong way to do it.

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