More & more people are being exposed to craft beer, whether by friends, news stories, promotions at the store, or growing curiosity about this whole "craft beer" thing. While there seems to be a clear divide between American craft and large-scale breweries - even down to the organization of bottles & cans at the liquor store - some beers fit neatly in-between. They're balanced, not too heavy on malt or hops or "weird" (like Rauchbier), affordable, and generally easy to drink. I'm thinking Leinenkugel, Yuengling, Boulevard Wheat, Samuel Adams Boston Lager, Fat Tire, Blue Moon, Pete's Wicked Ales, Pyramid, and so forth. These brands offer an approachable and non-intimidating introduction to craft beers and styles. I'd put some Belgian beers in here as well - Hoegaarden, Chimay, Leffe, and Duvel. Gateway beers, so to speak.
I caught this on Twitter the other day:
If your eye espies a Michelob sampler 6-pack at a grocery story in the next few months, take a close look. It may contain a rye IPA, or India Pale Ale.Michelob's always tossed out the occasional different style, but I wasn't expecting a Rye IPA (a style I very much enjoy and highly recommend due to the depth of flavor that the rye grain lends). I have to give credit to Anheuser-Busch (or, perhaps, InBev) for keeping alive a brand that does push the palate of the general beer drinker, as far as macro beer is concerned. I'd bet the Michelob brand has sent many people on the path to craft beer. In fact, the beginning of my dad's discovery of American craft brews (and, thus, my own) included Michelob's Amber Bock. Their beers are rarely (if ever) the hallmark of a style, but I do think the people at Michelob deserve a nod for reaching out to a macro-beer market and encouraging those within it to drink something outside their comfort zone.
So this brings me to my question for the weekend - what was your gateway beer? Was there a beer (or brand) that really got you in to craft beers? I'll go first: Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale. I haven't had it in a while since we don't get it out here, but I remember lots of caramel and citrus. Truly a well-balanced and enjoyable beer.