September 20, 2012

Homebrew for non-beer geeks?

I'm in my last semester of law school and after graduating I have ten rough months of hardcore bar studying, followed by a three day test. After passing the test, I am planning to throw quite the fiesta. I'd like to put out some homebrew to cover the beer end of the liquid libations (there will also be liquor) but I need to put out something that will appeal to the handful of people who will enjoy craft beer and those who drink beer as an alcohol delivery system. Since school has really gotten in the way of throwing parties, I'm not terribly experienced with finding the right recipes to meet those needs. I know I could brew something really basic, like a very simple blonde ale, but I'm trying to make my job more difficult by choosing something that I'll want to drink if we end up with several bottles left after the party.

I have a big 3L bottle of Chimay Gran Reserve for the party. I'm also going to fill my party pig with an ESB for sort of a cask option, so that will give the craft drinkers bold enough to drink room temperature, under-carbonated beer something to drink. However, I think I could use a little more beer and something more widely appealing.

I know there's several usual go-to beers suggested but I've struck, or at least put on the bottom of the list, several for one reason or another:

  • Simple blonde ale - it would be a fine choice and probably the most widely drank across the crowd but as I said, I don't want to end up with a lot of that left behind. I guess it's still on the table since it's an option that works but I would rather not.
  • Hefeweizen - a good option on its own but a lot of people, both craft and non-craft drinkers, don't like hefeweizen. I've also had a rough go at trying to lock down the right yeast profile, so I would rather not find myself in the position of trying to force that beer on people.
  • Lagers: nice idea but I haven't made a lager and it seems like the wrong time to try it.
  • Belgian blonde - a better option than a generic blonde ale but I know a lot of people aren't huge fans of the Belgian flavor.
  • Stout - a fine option for craft drinkers, but non-craft drinkers think of stout as a very acrid, filling beer and probably wouldn't drink very much. Porter is probably struck for the same reason.
  • English brown ale - another simple option that I don't want to get stuck with at the end of the night. I would keep it as an option but it would be too much like the ESB so people who drink the ESB probably won't want to drink the brown ale, too.
  • Pale ale - too hoppy for non-craft drinkers.
  • Kolsch - similarly probably too hoppy for non-craft drinkers.
Some options on the table:
  • American wheat - a not-too-hoppy American wheat would be a reasonable option with enough flavor for craft drinkers to enjoy but not too much for non-craft drinkers. 
  • Amber ale - similarly, an amber would be a good option but I'd be afraid it would be too similar to the ESB in flavor.
  • Alt - I like a good alt but it's pretty much an amber ale so I don't know if it would be drank a lot with the ESB sitting over there. I don't know, maybe I am overthinking who will drink the ESB. 
  • Blonde/Belgian Blonde - still on the table, although I'd rather not.
Right now I'm leaning towards the ESB cask plus an American wheat and maybe keep a few of my personal supply of homebrew available for the craft drinkers to try. I need to make a decision soon, because I'm about to make another big grain purchase for my 2013 brews and plan ahead to brew those beers in time for the party.

So what do you think? What goes over well with your non-craft drinking friends that doesn't bore your craft drinking friends to tears? Leave comments and let me know what I should do.


  1. You can't please everyone, so make sure you please yourself. The last thing you want is to make a batch of something that you personal don't like. I am really not a hefe fan, but I find a lot non-craft beer drinkers don't even know the difference betweeen a hefe and wit. I often brew a wit for parties and, done right it is an enjoyable beer to me as well as the guests.

    I would vote for making something that you want to drink first and foremeost. You can always pick up a 12 or 24 pack of american light lager for those non craft drinkers, and if they don't like it they will have liquor. Not sure what the crowd you are expecting is like, but its my experience that now adays almost everyone is aware of and enjoys a pale ale. If you use red cups that you can't see the beer color, you'd be surprised at what people enjoy. I had a porter at a party and everyone loved it!

  2. I agree with Shegogue, please yourself first. Most of my friends don't enjoy craft beers at all. When they do pick out a craft beer, it's one closest to the mass produced commercial beers. Very few people will really enjoy the effort and time you take into brewing your own so...brew a good batch of what you like for yourself, run out to the market and buy some Miller lite, get some vodka, whiskey, whatever, and 98% of the people at your party will be quite happy. Unfortunately

    Good luck with your exams!.