If youre new to craft beer and walk into Good Bottle Co. in Charlotte, owner Chris Hunt has you covered.
Just look for the sign that says, Father-in-Law Tap.
Its not an insult, Hunt says, just an indicator. The sign marks the lightest-colored, least-hoppy beer on draft at the craft beer haven just south of downtown.
Put more bluntly, it means: Bud Light drinkers start here.
The sign made me laugh when I visited in May. And the offering was Oskar Blues Mamas Little Yella Pils, a great pilsner now brewed in Brevard.
More than a year ago, I began working to convert my Bud Light-drinking father-in-law to the flavor oasis of craft beer.
And for those looking to make the leap or preach the good word to friends, this is a good time of year to start the enlightenment.
The summer months fill beer shelves with straw-colored kölschs, cold-clear pilsners and fruity wheat beers that are light-bodied and easy on the palate. Pick the right one, pour it in a glass, and the difference only hits with the first satisfying sip.
This is how I started with my father-in-law.
We began with Stella Artois, the well-known Belgian pilsner lager, an easy introduction. The next step moved to domestic pilsners, available at most grocery stores: Left Hands Polestar and Northcoasts Scrimshaw.
And now hes consistently buying North Carolina beers, either Winston-Salems Foothills Torch Pilsner or Kinstons Mother Earth Endless River kölsch.
For the most part, the conversion was a success. Dark beers remain an enigma, but the progress from macro to microbrew is substantial.
Chris White at Tylers Taproom in Raleigh begins newcomers with a question. It all depends on what they normally drink, and thats how we start it, he said. Do they like more hoppy beers, more flavorful beers or sweeter beers?
For a light lager drinker, White picked a local option. He pointed to a kölsch from White Street Brewing in Wake Forest. A little more flavorful with a slightly hoppy finish, he said.
At Beer Study, a Chapel Hill bottle shop, Andy Dodson is quick to recommend the same beer style, though an authentic version from Cologne, Germany, where it originated. He likes the Gaffel Kölsch. Its a crisp, clean taste with a touch more hops than the traditional light beer.
For those looking to take the next step, Dodson and Beer Studys manager, JD Schlick, suggest moving up the hoppy scale into pale ales, such as Olde Hickorys Table Rock or Sweetwaters 420. Or take a side trip into Belgian wheat beers with Natty Greenes Wildflower Wit and Big Boss Blanco Diablo, two North Carolina offerings.
Siavash Kouchek at Sams Quik Shop in Durham adds another North Carolina beer to the list: Highland Brewings Gaelic Ale, an American amber from Asheville that puts a local option on the list for those who like New Belgiums Fat Tire.
The newcomers, he said, are usually people introduced to craft beer by friends or family. And once they try it, they get hooked on it, he said.
What Im tasting
For those who want a darker summer beer, Lonerider Brewings latest seasonal beer in six-packs fits the bill. True Britt is an English-style session ale with a mild spicy hop character that balances well with the malt sweetness. And unlike the bigger-is-better mentality in craft beer right now, True Britts 4.8 percent ABV makes it possible to enjoy without worrying about alcohol content. About $10 for a six-pack.
Contact John at 919-829-4698 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @ByJohnFrank.