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Beer for wine lovers

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Cantillon Classic Gueuze
Bernt Rostad/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
Many wine lovers I talk seem to have already made up their mind about beer. It is a pale, vaguely sweet, fizzy drink that totally fails to stand up to the flavorful, complex wines that they love. If we are only talking about pale lager, I would have trouble arguing with that assessment.

We are not talking about just one style. This can be the biggest hurdle for wine people to get over. It can be difficult to convince them that other beers are beer just as must as a bottle of Budweiser is - maybe even more so, if you ask me. More than once I have heard a wine person say, that beer is nice but I really do not like beer. Yes, you do like beer, I want to tell them, you just said you did. It is just that you do not like some beer styles.

As you know, beer has dozens and dozens of styles, most with far more flavor and character than pale lager. I am not just talking about stouts and porters, both of which can present plenty of character. Wine people are usually looking for something with more complexity. The big, roasty flavors of stout and porter are nice but they can sometimes get a little one dimensional with one or two giant flavors dominated.

To win wine lovers over to the beer side, I like to turn to the Belgians. These big flavor, big character beers also carry the kind of complexity that wine drinkers prize. Some tend to be pretty sweet so big red drinkers might be turned off by them. However, there are some wonderful sour beers like Flanders red ale or Gueuze Lambic that can do the trick for dry red wine drinkers.

Lambics are also great for wine drinkers who prefer fruity or sweeter wines. The various Lambics blended with fruit are great for this breed of wine lover. Another great thing about lambics is that, in the fermentation and packaging phases of the brewing process, they are treated a lot like wine. They are aged in barrels for months and, when it come to packaging, they are often blended, old with new and by various flavor notes, a process with which many wine nerds are familiar. Sometimes knowing the back story of a drink is enough to get one interested in trying it.

We do not have to rely on the Belgians to convince wine lovers that beer is good, too. In many cases, they remember their college days when they survived on a diet of frozen pizza, cheese doodles and PBR. Their pallets have since grown up and they are no more interested in cheese doodles as they are in pale lager. Showing them that there is a wider world of beer out there than they expect is really all it takes for an open minded wine drinker. A visit to a local brewpub or a tour of a good, regional brewery - with a tasting at the end, of course - can turn a wine lover into a lover of good beer, too.

I do not have a problem with wine or wine lovers. In fact, I count myself among their ranks. I know I sometimes take little pot shots at wine and the wine world but that is only because beer can sometimes have an inferiority complex when it comes to wine. Truth be told, I am as likely to enjoy a good glass of wine as a beer.

As the beer world continues to grow, I hope that more wine lovers will come to regard the hundreds of good craft beers in the same light as their favorite wines. Beer and wine have more common than different, it just makes sense that if you like one you will like the other.

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