There’s a paradigm shift in the beer world. After work on Friday, the average beer mom or dad is buying fewer six-packs of Miller at Safeway. Instead, they’ll cruise by places like Peaks and Pints for a quick pint, grab a 64-ounce growler to go, and then cruise home and rejoin the family for dinner. That said, there’s still a large portion of the population that doesn’t get craft beer. The most common deterrent is the illusion that all craft beers are hop bombs served by beer snobs. Oh contraire. For our daily beer sample flight friendly Peaks and Pints presents Craft Beer Crosscut 2.1.17: A Flight of Entry Level Craft Beers. Welcome to the gateway our favorite libation.
5.4% ABV, 14 IBUs
Wheat beers are for the person who doesn’t like the bitter taste of hops. They tend to be a more fruity, floral, and easy to suck down, such as Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier. Germany’s Weihenstephaner brewery, located in Friesing in Bavaria, can trace its history of brewing all the way back to the year 1040. It wheat beer sports a delightfully spicy nose of bananas and cloves. Taking a sip, the crackery wheat is refreshing and tart, and makes the perfect stage for the aforementioned spicy clove and banana to play on. A hint of vanilla is present, too. The finish delivers more of that tart wheat character that makes this a beer you could easily sip all day.
4.9% ABV, 38 IBUs
If you currently drink Coors, Bud or Miller, you are already familiar with the lager family. There are many wonderful versions of craft brewed lagers, and they can make a great entry point if this is a style of beer you really like. pFriem Pilsner, a lager, may be the lightest beer we’ve ever seen. It pours with a delicate green tint, a fluffy white head and a crystal-clear complexion. Pastoral aromas of flowers and meadow grains combine nicely with a typical maltiness. It’s highly “drinkable,” with a deep dryness at the back of the mouth and the faint minerality that’s so crucial to a pilsner.
8.5% ABV, 38 IBUs
Saisons are floaty, bubbly and can make you feel all sunny on the inside. It’s a worthy stepping-stone into more intense beers. Boulevard’s saison Tank 7 is a liquid masterpiece. Black pepper and orange zest are set on a backbone of cracker and Italian bread crust malt flavors. Citrus and fruit notes derive from both the yeast and the hops. Fully attenuated, this beer has very little residual sugars remaining and thus allows the beer to finish very dry and clean.
4.5% ABV, 42 IBUs
For those who want to gain entry to the craft beer community, India Pale Ales have become the not-so-secret handshake. Can you appreciate its strong, bitter notes and discern the idiosyncratic spin different brewers add? If so, welcome. India Pale Ales, or IPAs, are an acquired taste. History shows they were overly hopped for the long journey from England to India. Founders All Day IPA has the hoppy characteristics of an IPA, but light on the alcohol side for the style. It’s heavy on the citrus and medium on the pine resin, with a very light bready malt character.
10% ABV, 55 IBUs
A common misconception is that stouts are heavy, but many of them can actually be quite light, such as Southern Tier’s Crème Brûlée Milk Stout. Brewed with natural chocolate, and four varieties of malts doused in lactose and vanilla, this is the cheesecake of beer. Chords of custard and caramelized sugar entice nose and mouth alike, and the thick, creamy body is enough to slow even the most seasoned sugar-junkie’s drinking pace to a crawl.