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Q&A: What are the best craft beers for a beginner to try?

Question by RicochetSteve: What are the best craft beers for a beginner to try?
As someone interested in trying craft beer, what are some good brands to try? What ones should I move up to?

Best answer:

Answer by Andy L.
Here is a list of craft beers considered tops by people who take beer seriously:

From my own preference, a good Sam Adams lager is not really a craft beer any more, but is very good. I like Bass English Pale Ale as an import. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is a good beginner’s high quality but fairly light and smooth taste if you have been used to Buds and Millers.

My preference is a beer that tastes like beer and not beer flavored water, but is not bitter, thick, or heavy.

Adding: If you see a wheat beer on draught anywhere, try it with a thick slice of orange in it.
The draughts are generally better than bottled, because of less preservatives and a fresher taste.
If ever in Manhattan in New York City, find your way to the lower East Bowery section at
15 E 7th St New York, NY 10003? for McSorley’s Ale House. You don’t order by brand. They brew their own.

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1 Comment

  1. Oliver

     /  January 24, 2014

    It depends very much on your budget and ability to tolerate bitterness. The current craft brew scene holds that “More bitter = more better”. You learn to enjoy it over time, but it’s no good to jump right into the highly rated Double IPA’s if you’re used to Bud and Miller.

    Most craft beer is grouped into “styles” within which there is truthfully very little difference from brewer to brewer. There are several very “beginner friendly” styles to try out:

    Amber ale (New Belgium Fat Tire)
    Brown Ale (Newcastle)
    Amber Lager/Vienna (Sam Adams Boston Lager)
    Bock/Doppelbock (Spaten Optimator)
    Hefeweizen (Paulaner Hefe-weiss)
    Marzen/Oktoberfest (Sam Adams Oktoberfest)
    Witbier (Hoegaarden)
    Sweet Stout (Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout)
    Pilsner (Pilsner Urquell)
    Dry Stout (Guinness)

    The brands called out are not necessarily the best examples out there, but they should all be easy to find and relatively cheap. From my experience, there are very few “bad” craft brewers, but there are a few things to watch out for:

    Big companies masquerading as “craft”:
    Shock Top (Anheuser-Busch InBev)
    Blue Moon (MillerCoors)
    Dundee (Genessee/High Falls)
    Minhas (Trader Joe’s… they make AWFUL beer)

    Beers that aren’t for beginners:
    Dogfish Head – Makes good beer, but uses unorthodox ingredients in very odd beers
    Rogue “Voodoo” series – Notoriously bad attempt to use bacon in brewing

    If you want to do some research on your own, head over to or and poke around for a bit.

    Happy hunting!


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