Dry-hopped sours. Barrel-aged stouts. Organic fruit-infused, coffee bean-fermented, hazy IPAs with lactose and unicorn farts.
I love them all. Truly.
But sometimes they can be a bit much. What ever happened to beer that tastes like… beer? Beer that’s simple, well-balanced, and you can drink, like, 12 of them at a time. Beer that tastes like the beer we drank when we were kids (of legal drinking age, of course). Beer you don’t have to think twice about offering to your Dad, because you know he’s not going to take one sip, give you a sideways look, and abandon the bottle.
Of course, there’s a place for the weird and wonderful, the creative and innovative. But while Cantillon’s Gueuze might be one of the greatest beers I’ve ever tasted, do I really want to take a flat of it camping? No way José—not that there’s any way I could afford it, anyways.
So what does beer-flavoured beer actually taste like, other than, you know, beer?
Firstly, there should be no weird additions or adjuncts—water, hops, malt, yeast, that’s it. The Germans figured this one out over 500 years ago. The malt character should be grainy, bready or slightly nutty, but no strong roasted coffee or chocolate flavours. Mild hopping that balances the malt character and dries out the finish, as opposed to a shotgun blast of IBUs to the brainstem. Limited yeast character, likely lagered, definitely no spicy, fruity Belgian strains. Esters and phenols can take a hike.
Everything should be in balance and the last one should taste as good as the first. It should be “moreish” as the English say.
Here’s a few suggestions if you, too, are suffering palate fatigue and just want to knock back a cold six pack because life is hard and beer makes it a bit easier.
Lug Tread Lagered Ale by Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co. (5.2% ABV, 21 IBU)
The label says “Lagered Ale”, but that’s just is a very unpretentious Canadian way to describe a kolsch, which is what this sweet, grainy number is. Since 2006, Lug Tread has won every major brewing award several times over. Most importantly, it tastes like beer.
Kölsch by Doan’s Craft Brewing Company (5.0% ABV, 20 IBU)
Speaking of kolsch, here’s an actual kolsch, and it might be the best one in B.C. Golden and grainy with a clean, dry finish. You know what else it tastes like? That’s right: beer.
Simple Things Pilsner by Steel and Oak Brewing Co. (5.0% ABV, 42 IBU)
Simple is good, that’s why we’re here. Steel and Oak’s take on the Northern German pils is crisp, clean and refreshing. Everything you want and nothing you don’t. That’s because it tastes like beer.
Wild Honey Organic Ale by Nelson Brewing Company (5.0% ABV, 29 IBU)
This one isn’t a lager, but you’re a grown-up, you can handle it. Sweet honey and toasted malts combine to create a light ale that goes down easy again and again and again. And guess what? It tastes like beer.
33 Acres of Life by 33 Acres Brewing Company (4.8% ABV, 40 IBU)
Grainy malt character with some noticeable but totally appropriate hopping, this copper hued California common is what happens when you brew a lager yeast at ale temperatures: you get beer.