Best Bets: Best Beers for Non-Beer Snobs

Late Spring and Early Summer are officially Beer Season in Baltimore. Beer is great all the year round, of course, but warm weather brings with it the opportunity for backyard parties, grilling, porchin’ it, and other chances to drink outdoors for extended periods. And for that, you’ve got to put down the highballs and reach for a beer.

There are those among us who are always seeking out the latest and greatest in the world of beer. Even some of you reading this probably count yourselves among the ranks of ‘beer snobs’ ‘beer nerds’ or, if you prefer, ‘enthusiasts.’ There’s nothing wrong with trying to track down the hoppiest IPA, the most carefully crafted barleywine, or the cloudiest Belgian wheat. For the rest of us though, most of the time, we just want a beer.

The beer's two bucks. The opinions are free.

So where does that leave us? We haven’t got the time or the patience to seek out the rarest imports and smallest microbrews and brag about it boorishly online, but neither will we settle for AB and MillerCoors products, which are all terrible. We just want something that we can get most places, drink several of, and, you know… not have to think about too much. It’s with these criteria in mind that we’re happy to present The Best Beers for Non-Beer Snobs.

Shiner Bock. According to Wikipedia: The Bavarians of Munich pronounced “Einbeck” as “ein Bock” (“a billy goat”), and thus the beer became known as “bock”. To this day, as a visual pun, a goat often appears on bock labels. The one produced at the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas wears its goat proudly, and it’s one of the most balanced beers out there. It’s a great choice as a takealong to a party or a drink-it-while-watching-a-game beer.

Sam Adams Boston Lager. A lot of beer snobs turn up their noses at the offerings from Sam Adams. That’s why they’re called snobs, we guess. Sam Adams is the Radiohead of the beer world. The people who loved it originally now pretend they never did. You just assume it’s a big major thing, but it’s still relatively small. It still doesn’t quite suit the tastes of the mainstream, exactly. We love Sam Adams. Radiohead on the other hand…

Löwenbräu. Löwenbräu may technically Be owned by A-B InBev, but it’s still producing the same beer it ever has. With a history dating back to 1383, it makes brands like Bass and Guinness look like up-and-comers by comparison. It even predates the famous Reinheitsgebot, the 1583 German law that dictated purity in beer. If it’s good enough for Oktoberfest, it’s good enough for the Chop.

Sierra Nevada Is Sierra the best bad beer or the worst good beer? This is a typical beer snob question, as it’s usually what they’ll reach for when they’re ‘slumming it.’ For us though, it’s just a good call. Most bars have it on draft and most stores have it in the cooler. It’s strong but not too strong, and tastes good enough for us.

Heavy Seas Gold Ale. We secretly yearn for a time when Baltimore will be known not as Boh country, but as Heavy Seas country. We realize that’s a pretty big hill to climb, but this might be just the beer, and just the brewery to do it. Just about everything heavy seas puts out is de-goddamn-licious, but Gold Ale has been our favorite since the early Clipper City days. We’d drink it even if it wasn’t super local, but we’re sure happy it is.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Best Bets: Best Beers for Non-Beer Snobs

  1. StabbyCerberus

    Lowenbrau (I believe properly pronounced, Lurvenbroy) — now that’s a throw-back. I must be focusing on the wrong area of the beer coolers because I didn’t know they sold it anymore. We used to drink that all the time back in high school — and I’m not going to say how long ago that was.

  2. sixteen tons

    Check out Sessions Black – A Full Sail Brewery beer. I’m not really a fan of any of their other beers, but the Sessions Black is just a plain old dark lager, nice little bottle, rochambeau under the cap and it ain’t the same color going in as when it’s coming out. My new favorite brew.

  3. Sierra and Sam are my go to beers during long layovers or when we take that (always awesome and ironic) trip to Applebee’s or the like.

  4. As a certified beer judge, and a confirmed UN-snob about beer, I’d call these decent choices. But I think the notion of beer snobbery needs a closer examination. In general, I think beer snobbery comes down to a lack of understanding of style on the part of the snob, AND the person calling the snob such. You’ve mentioned a number of beers here that are ultimately classic examples of very different styles.

    Miller Lite is a classic example of style — style 1A, American Lite Lager in this case. So is Bud Light. It’s just a style that is generally derided as pedestrian and lacking in quality by so-called beer snobs. What most of them don’t know is how difficult it is to brew this style, and moreover how difficult it is to brew it consistently.

    I’ve had this argument with others, and really there’s one constant in the discussion; there’s no accounting for taste — i.e. personal interest and liking. Mind you, this doesn’t exclude a real understanding of aesthetic quality. A subjective judgment of something that when judged according to the same criteria by another person should lead to a very similar, some might say universal, result. Very Kantian, I know, but that’s what beer judging is all about — putting aside your personal feelings about a style, a beer, etc. and making a real, considered judgment based on criteria, and determining if something is of high quality or not.

    That said, I think the converse is also true here. People who deride enjoyment of different beer styles as uppity are just as guilty of ignorance as the snobs. Beer is beer is beer, but good beer is better. If you educate yourself, and know your styles, you can genuinely say which beers are good regardless of style, or personal taste, and anyone else who knows their shit can see that you’re right regardless.

    • All true. I would just say, for clarity’s sake, that when I use the term ‘beer snob,’ either here or offline I never mean it to be pejorative, although I’m sure some people do.

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