When you're first starting to drink beer, one of the best things you can do is buddy up with someone who can tell you a thing or two about the different beers on the shelf. This can be a friend, a bar tender, or the guy who stocks beer at your local liquor store. Tell them the kind of flavors you generally like - chocolate, coffee, stone fruit, sour candy, lemons - and ask them if they can recommend a beer with similar flavors.
Here are five of the beers we think of as "gateway" beers. Once you're hooked on these, a whole world of beer-appreciation starts to open!
1. Pilsner Urquell from Plzensky Prazdroj - If you've only ever sipped big name beers like Budweiser and Miller, this is the beer to try. Pilsner Urquell is THE original pilsner, and it has a sweet mellow flavor (almost like biscuits) with light spicy-citrusy hops. (Also try: Prima Pils from Victory Brewing and Lagunita Pils from Lagunitas Brewing Company)
2. Hefe-Weissbier Naturtrüb from Paulaner - Hefeweizens are a great starter beer in general, and this is one of the best. This ale is characterized by sweet banana and clove flavors with a creamy, luscious mouthfeel and a crisp finish. (Also try: Dancing Man Wheat from New Glarus Brewing Company)
3. Peach (Pêche) Lambic from Lindemans - This is like a ripe summer peach in fizzy beer form. It's deliciously fruity with a nice sour edge. (Also try: Lindemans Raspberry/Framboise Lambic and Cantillon Cherry/Kriek)
4. Nut Brown Ale from Samuel Smith Old Brewery - Roasted nut and buttery caramel are the lead flavors here. This is a good one to try if you're not a fan of bitterness in beer. (Also try: Newcastle Brown Ale and Old Brown Dog Ale from Smuttynose Brewing Company
5. Left Hand Milk Stout from Left Hand Brewing Company - This is proof that dark beers don't have to be bitter or burnt-tasting. This milk stout tastes like silky espresso poured over ice and swirled with cream. (Also try: Young's Double Chocolate Stout and Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout)
What other beers would you recommend for new beer drinkers?