Top 5 Beers (or moments) that got you into craft beer

I know there is probably a similar thread somewhere out there, but I’m bored on a terrible conference call.

These can either be beers themselves, or moments you’ve had (usually with a beer in hand) that made you realize that life begins when you get beyond BMC. Some call them “beer epiphanies”.

they don’t need to be in any specific order, but since my #1 is my #1, I will put my 2-5 in no particular order:

#1 My first homebrew: A Brewer’s Best (sorry host, didn’t know about you guys yet!) Imperial Blonde kit. I had resolved to start homebrewing for years. Before this, I would order a Miller Lite at a bar. I got this specific kit because I “wasn’t into hoppy beers”…yet when I added the bittering hops, at first I was a little grossed out, then became intrigued. My love for hops was born (and my next brew was an IPA!). The beer probably had a ton of flaws, but I (and my then-girlfriend, now wife) thought it was amazing.

-Garrett Oliver pouring his homebrewed flemish sour @ Avenue Pub in New Orleans. Actually standing next to me, pouring it into my glass. Had never had a sour before, much less a brett’d sour. My universe opened up.
-Dale’s Pale Ale
-Old Rasputin
-a homebrew poured for me when I was about 18 made by my oldest brother. It wasn’t great. But it was different. It planted a seed that took a few years to grow (!)

Somehow, I lucked out and never even started with bad beer. But my most epic beer moments… chronologically…

  1. Big Time brew pub in Seattle- the porter they had on tap was amazing.
  2. Pyramid snowcap- I don’t really like this anymore, but I used to drink the crap out of it.
  3. Old Rasputin
  4. Summit (most varieties… I suppose the kicker was winning six cases of it)
  5. Hebrew 9

#1 1992- moved from Little Rock, AR to Phoenix, AZ. Just happened to be a brewpub right down the street.
#2 1997- finished residency training and finally had a little money to buy better beer.
#3 1996- my wife bought me a homebrewing kit
#4 2001- road trip to Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
#5 2009- vacation in Germany with vow to never drink the same beer twice

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#1 my 1st realization that there was beer beyond BMC was Sam Adams- I still love their lager, and especially their Oktoberfest. I also always try their special brews when they come out.
#2 Long Trail Double Bag. Great beer. I’m working on a HB equivalent. My 1st attempt was good, but more like Triple Bag. I think I know what to change next time.
#3 Lion Stout. Love it. Have worked up a recipe that I think matches it pretty well.
#4 Atlantic Brewing Co. Coal Porter. Wonderful flavor.
#5 Atlantic Brewing Co. Scottish Ale. A recent tasting experience. This is very tasty, and makes me think I should work on a recipe.
Of course, signed, sealed and delivered when I got a kit for Christmas 2011.
This brewing thing does seem to be an obsession… :smiley:


I had just moved from Milwaukee, WI to Hopkins, MN to live with my girlfriend (now she’s my wife!). We were using Yelp to look for a place to eat, and everywhere I looked, the first listing on just about every search was this place called The Four Firkins. It isn’t a restaurant, but it is beer nirvana. I’ve been hooked ever since. People in the Twin Cities will know what I’m talking about. If you’re not from the Twin Cities, look them up. Coolest store ever.

1: 1979-1980, working/managing in a Shamrock gas station on the main road to Lake Austin and the boat docks that attracted a more moneyed crowd and being allowed to stock pretty much any beer that sounded good as long as it would sell and buy at cost for personal consumption. My friends and I took full advantage and racked up an impressive collection of bottles from imports and US breweries that weren’t available anywhere else in Austin (we were in high school at the time, which made us pretty popular at parties!).

  1. Labatt blue
  2. George Killians
  3. my first homebrewed beer (Irish Red)
  4. HopSlam
  5. Side by side tasting of Town Hall’s Masala Mama on cask and CO2.

Pete’s Wicked Ale in the 90’s.

Yup…I said to it “where have you been all my life”.

And then Sam was producing a wider array, on, and on, …

Ahhh quality beer!

Sam Adams, by far has been the most influential to my love for craft beer. I have always considered SA to be the grand daddy of the craft beer movement. I hate it when people flame SA for being a big company.

Late 60s: stole 1st sip of beer from my dad’s can of Schlitz.
Early 80s: Miller’s Dark - discovery that not all beer was exactly the same.
Mid 80s: discovered flavorful beers (British Imports), especially Sam Smith Oatmeal Stout
2003: 1st homebrew experience came out surprisingly well, began to realize how much variety was possible
2006: Trip to Munich. Discovered what hundreds of years of perfecting process can achieve when it is tasted fresh.


SA produces fine beer. Love the Winter Lager!

Left Hand Milk Stout. I remember buying a 6 pack and loving it, then never being able to find it again. After searching for milk stouts at local beer distributors and coming up empty, I thought to myself, maybe I can just make one. The rest, as they say, is history.

while i don’t typically buy it, it is a well-made unique brand with some great individual products that helps turn a lot of people on to flavorful beer.

Have to disagree with the grandaddy though. That would have to be Fritz Maytag in my book. While the quickest way to make a small fortune is to start with a big one, the guy took a risk in buying Anchor. Granted, if he lost everything, he still had washing machine F-U money, but still…

There was another one that is featured in the latest Brew Your Own mag…blanking on the name though. It is now extinct, but it may have even pre-dated Anchor.

1.) Starting to go to a local place called Bocktown that had 16 rotating taps of high quality craft beers.

2.) Stopping at the Firehouse Brewing Co. microbrewery in Rapid City, SD on our honeymoon in 2010 and having a pint of Brow Eyed Girl followed up with a Smoke Jumper Stout. That stuff was exceptionally tasty.

3.) Going to Scotland in 2011 and having beers from BrewDog and Black Isle brewing that were amazing. Got smashed in the BrewDog pub in Aberdeen on Storm on tap, I think. It was too late to buy anything to take home by the time we thought about it.

4.) Last year the wife and I were in Ireland and tracked down one of the only places in Dublin that sold the high ABV stuff from BrewDog. Brought back bottles of Black Tokyo Horizon, Tactical Nuclear Penguin, and Sink the Bismarck. I was amazed at how smooth Sink the Bismarck was for a 41% beer. I was the only one who fell in love with TNP when we shared it amongst friends.

5.) Realizing how much money we were spending on craft beer and that I needed a new hobby. Oh, and my wife and mother conspired to get me a kit for Christmas. That helped too…

-Meeting my wife (& in turn, father-in-law). Our combined love of beer got him back into brewing again after a long break. Helping him with those first few batches showed me it wasn’t TOO intimidating.

-Beer & Bacon Pairing at Paddy Long’s Pub in Chicago. The best pairing by far was Great Lakes Edmund Fitz Porter paired with brown sugar coated bacon. I could eat this for dessert daily.

-Brewfest in Barrington, IL. Dozens of local & national brewers come and showcase new beers as well as old favorites. I found the beer love of my life there (next bullet point) & it is $40 all you can sample for 4 hours

-Half Acre Brewery (Chicago). Specifically their Daisy Cutter IPA. SO refreshing & crisp with strong hop flavor. I could drink 20 of them on a hot summer day.

-hand-me-down equipment. Once the father-in-law was back into brewing he took inventory of his 30+ years worth of brewing supplies and was able to set me up with ALMOST everything I needed. The rest came for christmas this year.

Full disclosure, I have yet to brew my first batch. I am getting the stuff this evening from my local HBS and plan on whipping together an American Brown Ale this weekend. Extract with steeped grains. I am pretty excited.

  1. College. I started drinking beer for social purposes, and quickly got tired of the swill–fallout from being a glass of wine with dinner kinda guy-- so I started trying commercially popular but “fancier” beer like Henry Weinhards which I would venture to say got the ball rolling.

  2. Guinness on tap. While I never got around to drinking it regularly it certainly opened my eyes to really flavorful beer.

  3. Working at Coeur d’Alene brewery. Although they’re no longer around it was working at their satellite Taphouse that really pushed me over the edge. I don’t know that I’d be fond of their beers today, but because back then I could try any of the 12 taps for virtually no cost I got to go kinda nuts just figuring out what I liked. This kickstartedmy the still going hop-head “phase”.

  4. Odell Brewery. When the brewery shut down the restaurant became s rotating Taphouse and when they brought Odell IPA in it was game over for me. I was 100% on board with craft beer.

  5. Bought my homebrew kit and it’s only been getting worse since then.

Probably 8 years ago was when I started getting into craft beer, only had a brief phase of crappy American lager. But have drank PBR off and on throughout the years up until about 2 years ago.

Five beers that got me into craft beer were New Castle, Guinness, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, New Belgium 1554, and Goose Island 312.

I didn’t really start understanding beer until I started homebrewing in 2008. I thought I understood it and knew a lot about it before, but I realize after homebrewing a while that I didn’t know as much as I thought.

while i don’t typically buy it, it is a well-made unique brand with some great individual products that helps turn a lot of people on to flavorful beer.

Have to disagree with the grandaddy though. That would have to be Fritz Maytag in my book. While the quickest way to make a small fortune is to start with a big one, the guy took a risk in buying Anchor. Granted, if he lost everything, he still had washing machine F-U money, but still…

There was another one that is featured in the latest Brew Your Own mag…blanking on the name though. It is now extinct, but it may have even pre-dated Anchor.[/quote]
Damn East coast West coast wars!

With Anchor being from CA, chances are more people on that coast will likely point to Anchor, but SA is from the east coast and thus i would bet more east coast enthusiasts may point to SA. Just a thought…

Oh and for what’s worth the SA Lager recipe was developed and brewed in 1860…according to wiki.

Hamms was the first beer i remember seeing. My grandfather drank it exclusively, and my parents funded their honeymoon from recycling thousands of his empty hamms cans.

Sad to say it, but blue moon opened my eyes to beer that didn’t taste like coors light. then i moved on to widmer hefe. (I consider these two my ‘gateway beers’)

After that i moved on to dark styles like Deschutes black butte and obsidian. Ninkasi’s Oatis was my first ‘favorite’ beer. Then i tried Old Rasputin and my mind was officially blown. After that, I branched out to every style and brewery i could think of. All this before I was 21 - I soon started homebrewing because i was unable to buy good beer on my own, so i figured i would make it instead.

1.) dad drank sam adams occasionally but mostly MGD, this started it ( he always wanted to brew beer and wine with me but mom said we had to wait till i was 21, bad plan)

2.) chocolate and oatmeal stouts in college, we found out we could walk around dorm with beers because everyone thought it was soda, no one even connected dots that not all beer was yellow (atleast the people who were in charge didnt connect dots)

3.) started brewing wine and beer in college, started with some spruce needles and feed barley from a feed store, we malted own barley, malt flavor was goood, to much spruce though. did it all in the dorm.

4.) up to this point sam adams and seirra nevade were exotic and micro brew. after my father passd on, my brother and i were invited to his high school reunion, my brother did not drink anything but MGD and budweiser at this point. the reunion was in wisconsin at a pub, that night we discovered New Glarus spotted cow on tap, things were never the same my brother no longer thought i was crazy for drinking microbrew. after a night of spotted cow and fat squirrel we were both hooked. that has been 2 summers atleast not had a new glarus since, (extreme sad face) I live in KY, lastly they stopped making fat squirrel (HUGE SAD FACE)

5.) I had pretty much stopped drinking for a while, my wife and i went on a trip to gatlinburg on our honeymoon (1 year after getting married). we stopped by some wineries got me talking bout the old days when i made wine, bam made a batch of wine when we got home, mean while new some guys in class who made beer, that pushed me over the edge here we are just hit one year mark on making good beer. it has been an awesome ride