How to choose beer for people who don't like beer
By Mark Harris
My wife, bless her, is very supportive of my beer “research.” She likes going to breweries and events with me, but finding a beer that she can finish is a struggle.
Nothing too dark, or too hoppy, or too sour ... you get the idea. Luckily, the increase in the number of local breweries is helping provide options.
Beer is definitely an acquired taste, and finding a gateway beer often requires a lot of trial and error. The sentiment that craft beer means IPAs is unfortunate, because it leads many people to try and jump right into them.
The bitterness of an IPA tells your body that it’s most likely a poison, and you have to train your palate gradually to tolerate it. The same is true for sours; that taste in nature means something has gone bad and shouldn’t be consumed.
Start with something simple and malt-forward. Vienna Lager from Devils Backbone is a safe choice, as are any of the local Oktoberfest beers coming out soon.
Coelacanth Brewing in Norfolk has a wide range of approachable beers for all tastes and has emerged as my wife’s preferred destination. The pilsners offered from O’Connor and Smartmouth are always enjoyed, as is the Riptide Altbier from Reaver Beach.
The best advice? Talk to the brewery staff and get a sampler.
Local Beer Cup awards
Several local craft brewers took home honors this week when the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild named the 2016 Virginia Craft Beer Cup Awards in Richmond. More than 280 brewers attended the event Tuesday. More than 370 beers were considered.
The local winners were:
Reaver Beach Brewing, second for its Reaver’s Salvation and third for its Reaver en Noir, in wild yeast specialty beer; third for Full Broadside, in Belgian wit, pale ale and biere de garde.
Big Ugly Brewing, second for its Ghost Rider Porter, in darker European beer; third for Mango Rockers IPA, in fruit beer.
Back Bay Brewing, second for its Gringo, in German pils and international lager.
Pleasure House Brewing, first for its No Waves, British dark ale.
O’Connor Brewing, second for its Red Nun Red Ale, in American amber ale.
Bold Mariner Brewing, first for its Scurvy Dog, Belgian blond and saison.
Virginia Beach Company, second for its Saison Tournante, Belgian blond and saison.
Virginia Craft Brewers Fest
The Virginia Craft Brewers Fest takes place Saturday at Devils Backbone Basecamp Brewpub in Roseland. It’s a fine celebration of the excellent craft beer in the state.
This year’s event is not without controversy, however. The sale of the host brewery to AB InBev made them ineligible for awards, as they now fall outside of the definition for “craft” as established by the rules. It has long been a powerhouse in the competition, and leaves an interesting void at the top.
For more information, visit www.vacraftbrewersfest.com.
beer of the week
My beer of the week is the return of Breakwater Cream Ale from Rip Rap Brewing. In keeping with the theme this week, this offering is easily one of the most approachable beers in the area. Endlessly smooth and drinkable, it is well balanced and has no harsh aftertaste.
Beer, Bourbon and BBQ Festival
This festival is a touring event that will land at Hunt Club Farm in Virginia Beach on Saturday: noon to 6 p.m. for VIP ticket holders and 2 to 6 p.m. for others.
It boasts 40 bourbons and 60 beers on tap, including a few from local brewers. And lots of barbecue.
For more information, visit www.beerandbourbon.com.
Mark Harris is a regular contributor to
. Reach him at