Mix a craft 6-pack for your macro brewery loving friends!

For some people it only takes 1 sip of a locally brewed craft beer to get hooked, for others it takes a few trials of different styles to really decide what your palate enjoys. Maybe you prefer a malty brew with a hint of chocolate. Maybe you’re into IPAs that are so hoppy you question if you have any taste buds left. Either way, once you start drinking craft, you don’t want to stop.

If you’re anything like the crew at Hunterdon, you’re always up for talking and learning more about what goes into brewing the different styles that this ever-growing world of craft beer has to offer. So much so that we might even force it on our friends. You know, that one pal who will only drink that ONE kind of macro brewery beer… there’s always one in the bunch who hasn’t converted.

Well, we asked some of the HBCO crew to put together their ideal 6-pack for a craft beer beginner – a mix that covered the spectrum without overwhelming our lack-luster ale loving friends. So, next time you’re at the store, mix a 6 and spread the craft beer love!

 

Chris Marvel- Off-Premise Sales: Monmouth & Northern Ocean Counties

Full Sail Session Lager
Crisp, clean and flavorful – it’s a lager and an easy crossover from the macros. It’s made better and has more flavor but it’s also familiar enough to appeal to any macro-drinker. Seal the deal when you tell him or her how much a six-pack costs. A “gateway” craft beer, if you’ll allow the expression.

Founders All Day IPA
Higher ABV India Pale Ales can shock the palate of new drinkers because they usually combine intense hopping during the boil and an array of malts that add a lot of body and sweetness. It’s too much at the beginning – like serving black coffee to the uninitiated. All Day IPA is the answer – it’s a clean, sessionable (standard ABV) IPA that offers pleasant bitterness and dryness plus an inviting aroma that’s a product of Founders’ attention to dry-hopping. I don’t need to explain the name.

 Schneider Weisse
Adjunct-lager drinkers aren’t used to hop bitterness, so German wheat beers are easy since they use Noble hops and primarily contribute aroma. Weisse is light, effervescent, and smooth from the yeast present in the bottle. An unexpected, pleasant surprise that alters one’s perception of what beer can be. German-style wheat beers don’t pack the pronounced bite of coriander and orange, typical of Belgian white (wheat) beers that can be too much for the average drinker.

Dogfish Head Namaste
Let’s face it, Blue Moon White Ale is the most well known Belgian-style witbier on the market, and produced by a macro brewery. Dogfish Head’s version of a Belgian-style witbier is Namaste, and we just released it in six-packs for the first time in New Jersey. Refreshing and smooth, yet full-flavored (not thin) and complex enough to persuade drinkers to trade up to Dogfish Head. If 60 and 90 Minute IPA are too much for them, this is the perfect introduction to Dogfish Head. Namaste is well made and faithful to style.

Yards Brawler
The English are an unpretentious lot, and their beers are well-balanced and nuanced without overemphasizing any one ingredient, perfect for someone who desires flavor but isn’t ready for American hop-bombs or heaps of malted barley. This English-style dark mild (brown) ale offers some toffee/nutty sweetness with just enough dryness to keep the body light and quaffable. To quote the estimable Ron Johnson (New Jersey’s Yards rep), telling your friend that this is “light and smooth” will convince them to try Brawler every time.

Yards Philly Pale Ale
Philly Pale Ale (PPA) is very versatile-it’s light and refreshing enough to function as a summer beer, but has enough flavor and hop aroma to be a go-to beer, and the best part is that it’s available all year. Simcoe hops provide an inviting citrus aroma, but not much bitterness. To quote the venerable Ron Johnson, this is “crisp and light.” No fancy description necessary. If you live below Exit 98 on the Parkway, Yards PPA is an easy sell. Awarded “Best Local Beer” in 2012 by Philadelphia Magazine.

 

PJ Sievering- On and Off-Premise Sales, Jersey City
My six pack for the Macro drinking dummy would first and foremost include Full Sail Session Lager, which is flavorful, refreshing, and would have a somewhat familiar taste to the average macro drinker. The low ABV and award winning balance make this a great gateway beer. Next, I thought Gaffel Kölsch would be a great pick. Clean, crisp, with less hoppiness then a pilsner. Next, I’d go with Allagash White, which to me, defines the category of Belgian Wit beers. Soft, refreshing, spicy and really satisfying. Left Hand Milk Stout would be my next addition. People usually shy away from anything dark because it’s misconceived as being “heavy”. I would love for people to give this beer a chance and realize that it’s actually very light, sweet, and creamy. A wise man once told me it’s “like an iced coffee with a little bit of cream”. I would then throw in the Yards Philadelphia Pale Ale which has an awesome citrus hoppiness that adds just the right amount of pilsner malt for balance. Easy, drinkable, refreshing. I would round out the six pack with the super delicious Lagunitas IPA which may just be the best intro one could have to an IPA. Its pine and citrus hop profile provides a mild bitterness with just the prefect amount of sweet malt that work synergistically to make this beer the evergreen of the IPA scene.

 

Joe Larubbio- Off-Premise Sales, Camden County
My ideal mix 6 pack for the mega-brewery drinker that has wised up & decided they now want to taste their beer not just consume:
Allagash White
Terrapin RecreationAle
Founders All Day IPA
Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
Rogue Chocolate Stout
Weyerbacher Merry Monks

I’ve chosen these beers because while they all have great & unique flavors none of these would scare off a “newbie”. Yet they are high enough quality beers that even a hop head wouldn’t turn his/her nose up to them.
Although this 6-pack ranges from moderate to high ABV, are all session-able beers that offer different styles to test your pallet & help you figure out which style is best suited for you. Enjoy!

Rachel Wall- On & Off-Premise Sales, Boonton Area
I’m sure we can all say that we have single handedly converted our “mega-brewery” drinking friends in to craft beer drinkers pretty easily, but some aren’t so easy! My first go to beer is typically Allagash White. I have a lot of Blue Moon drinking friends and Allagash White is a perfect replacement. I like to call it Blue Moon on steroids. Next, I’d like to scare some people by choosing a craft import and go for Schneider Hefeweizen (Original). There is no one out there that can tell me they don’t love this beer once they try it. It’s rich yet light and the banana and clove, YUM! There are so many “mega-brewery” drinkers that constantly say to me that they don’t like bitter beers or IPAs. I get it, that lingering bitterness isn’t for everyone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy an IPA. That’s why my next go to is Great Divide Hercules. It’s certainly hoppy, but the hops are sweet and fruity, which cut through the bitterness perfectly. For a double IPA at 10% it drinks super mild, you would never even know; careful with this one! Crabbie’s Original is a great go-to for converting those whose palates maybe aren’t quite ready for the flavor profiles of a double IPA. It’s basically alcoholic ginger ale, who can complain about that? Next would be a Reissdorf Kölsch for all of those “light and crisp” beer drinkers. Sun, sand, Reissdorf Kölsch…. When do we leave? Light, crisp, refreshing and low in ABV (4.8%). Lastly, I would choose Founders Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale. It has a great dark ruby red color with super rich malty sweetness. In the words of Founders, “so good, it’s almost wrong”. That’s my go to mix 6!

Ray Burow- South Jersey Area Sales Manager
This 6 pack is perfect for the beginner craft beer drinker. Some light, some dark and a finish with a hop introduction. I would sample them in this order:

Reissdorf Koelsch is a perfect starter beer. This is one of the originals from Cologne Germany. It is a top fermenting ale, but with about 4 weeks of cold conditioning. This unique brewing style makes a great starter beer. It is malty with some fruitiness and crisp subtle hop finish.

Yards Brawler is an English Mild. This is a darker beer with tons of malt. Lower ABV and less hops make it perfect to transform the macro drinker.

Smutty Old Brown Dog is a brown ale. I put this in here to stop the comment “I don’t like dark beer”. Smutty OBD is dark but very easy to drink. It has delicious chocolate flavor from the dark malts. Again, there is not much of a hop profile so it won’t offend the macro lager drinkers.

Allagash White is a Belgian Style Wit. Macro Wit beers have become quite popular. If you have had one you will love Allagash White. Perfect any time of year but fantastic in the summer. Some prefer a slice of lemon or orange but anyway you have it you will love it.

Left Hand Sawtooth is an American ESB. It’s a session beer with a balance of maltiness and hops. This is the perfect beer to introduce the hoppier side of American Craft Brewing.

Full Sail IPA is an India Pale Ale. This is an English style IPA so the hops will not knock you over and destroy your pallet. I picked this to start the step up to the hoppier American IPA’s, Double IPA’s and Triple IPA’s.

These 6 beers have the best of both worlds. You can give them to a beginner and they won’t be driven away by overwhelming flavors that they have never tasted before. On the other hand, the experienced beer enthusiast will love tasting subtle tasting notes of these fantastic beers.

This is not it either. I can think of 20 other beers that I would love to put into a craft starter pack. I think the best way to know what you like is to try it and find out. Start with styles with less hops and work your way up.

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