Beer That Doesn't Taste Like Beer

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Junior, Apr 6, 2021 at 9:35 PM.

  1. Junior

    Junior Crusader (751) May 23, 2015 Michigan
    Society Trader

    I see a lot of posts on here where someone states something along the lines of 'This beer is for people that don't like the taste of beer'. I think I understand the sentiment but I still do not get why it is used so much. To me what the poster is really trying to say is 'This beer does not taste like the beer that I (or the 'other person') am used to drinking'.

    There are such a wide variety of styles that you could say that many do not taste 'like beer'. Why does a Gueze taste more like beer than a NE IPA? Does a Pilsner taste more like beer than a Russian Imperial Stout or a Fruited Sour. Is a West Coast IPA more beer like than a Quad?
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  2. CBlack85

    CBlack85 Crusader (733) Jul 12, 2009 South Carolina

    I usually only see this in reference to Pastry Stouts, that taste more like desert than beer, or fruited type beers that resemble smoothies.

    Although, the same could be said for many Milk Stouts or Chocolate Stouts
  3. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,930) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

  4. Shanex

    Shanex Poo-Bah (1,761) Dec 10, 2015 France
    Moderator Society Trader

    I also hear this often, and I don't really mind the sentiment...

    For instance, there's this friend of mine located in Arizona making an Instagram post about a German large glass full of a German Doppelbock, with the hashtag: "#DownWithIPAs” and adding "Finally a beer that taste like beer.”

    I'd guess we pretty much all started drinking beer with cheap AAL or Euro lager and that was what BEER was supposed to taste like.

    Until craft beer became such a thing and ruined us all. :wink:
  5. LeRose

    LeRose Poo-Bah (1,535) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts

    There is a whole wide, wild, creative world of beer out there. Who says what beer should taste like to begin with? The process seems a better definition than what a beer might taste like. Brewing remains a adventurous sport. Who would have ever thought way back somebody would think you could boil up some grain, let the liquid technically spoil, then drink refreshing and live? Who had the balls to eat the first anything? The scene is what it is and fortunately nobody is twisting anybody's arm telling them what they should or should not drink accents it should taste like... Oh...wait...there are people doing that? Damn....
  6. dcotom

    dcotom Poo-Bah (2,667) Aug 4, 2014 Iowa
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    If all beer tasted like what most people who complain about "beer that doesn't taste like beer" think beer should taste like, there wouldn't be anything but insipid adjunct lagers.
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  7. defunksta

    defunksta Meyvn (1,002) Jan 18, 2019 North Dakota

    I would agree that I see this often but don't mind the sentiment. I think most people are referring to beer taste similar to a German pilsner or lager. So the further fruitier or abstract the beer gets, the less it tastes like "beer".
    A pastry stout, NEIPA, and a German lager are all beer, but not even close to similar.
    I get the discrepancy, but beer in 2021 cannot be an all-encompassing taste and often doesn't taste like beer as we used to know it. I think most are referring to beer that tastes like a traditional German lager. When I see this type of description I have no quaff and think I understand what they are referring to.
  8. Soneast

    Soneast Champion (830) May 9, 2008 Wisconsin

    I never really understood that sentiment either. Until I had a koolaid beer that tasted literally like grape koolaid. Then I got it. Even most pastry stouts and NEIPAs have some semblance of "beeriness."
  9. dbrauneis

    dbrauneis Poo-Bah (9,538) Dec 8, 2007 North Carolina
    Moderator Society Trader

    I see fairly often and I’m not bothered by it but I always take it as a beer that tastes just like something else (I.e., Smoothie Fruited Sours that taste just like a smoothie without any beer aspects).
  10. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,278) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    Here is the test:
    If someone states that a specific beer tastes exactly (or literally) like a liquid _____ (fill in the blank with any non-beer ingestible solid substance), they must then reverse the comparison and see if it still makes sense to them. In other words, would that person exclaim, "This blueberry muffin tastes exactly like solid beer!" or "This Almond Joy tastes exactly like solid beer!" when taking a bite of those foods? If they would not, then they know that they have finally had "a beer that does not taste like beer" and can receive their style tick.
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  11. Providence

    Providence Crusader (724) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    Yes, a Pilsner tastes more like beer than a fruited sour.
  12. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,014) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    I see the same statement about 'not tasting like beer', but I also see some people saying "this beer doesn't taste like your Father's beer." To me that definitely means the macro AALs.

    But also to be noted, well crafted AALs and Pilsners don't really taste like macros to me because they typically have much more flavor.
  13. HorseheadsHophead

    HorseheadsHophead Poo-Bah (2,238) Sep 15, 2014 New York

    I mostly chalk to this up to old man grumbling, but lately I've changed my tune--or perhaps I've finally succumbed to the old man grumbling. These heavily fruited smoothie sours bear no resemblance to beer whatsoever. Same with a lot of the pastry milkshake stuff. Sure, they might taste good--in that they taste exactly like fruit, candy, cake, etc.--but I am literally hard pressed to call some these beers "beer" recently.
  14. HorseheadsHophead

    HorseheadsHophead Poo-Bah (2,238) Sep 15, 2014 New York

    This. Beer is extremely diverse and flavorings are welcome. But some of the newer crazy fruit beers literally do not taste like beer whatsoever.
  15. jasonmason

    jasonmason Initiate (189) Oct 6, 2004 California


    When a beer is literally brewed to taste like kool-aid, strawberry cheesecake, or fudge brownies, then calling it 'beer that doesn't taste like beer' is entirely accurate. Pejorative, sure; but also accurate. A 'beeriness' would very likely be considered a flaw by some of their most ardent fans.
  16. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,745) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    This nails it. Sure there's lots of gatekeeping going on when people say a beer doesn't taste like beer. But when both brewers and consumers are explicitly celebrating the fact that a beer tastes exactly like some other food or beverage, then I think we have to take them at their word. Non-beer flavored beer is a thing now. We just have to accept it and move on
  17. rozzom

    rozzom Meyvn (1,019) Jan 22, 2011 New York

    There are people at either end of the spectrum, but for many of us (myself included) when I see these type of comments, it feels a lot like the “anyone that drives slower than me is an idiot / anyone that drives faster than me is a maniac” dynamic.
  18. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,736) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    When I hear beer that tastes like beer it always sounds to me like someone reaching back to their roots to the day when AALs ruled the world, and they still do no doubt. But perhaps was the only option depending on where you lived and when that was.

    I love Lindemann Framboise, I have a hard time equating that to a traditional lager.
  19. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,176) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    I don't know, during the era many are discussing, I also heard a lot of people saying that American light lagers and the even lighter "Light Beers" tasted like "water" or "beer flavored water" or "air" (< my ol' man's favorite putdown of tasteless things), etc. I mean, they called Coors "Colorado Kool-Aid" and it wasn't because it was sugar-sweet and artificially fruit-flavored...

    To illustrate a point I was going to make in a post, I once did a forum search for the phrases "tastes like" and "tastes just like" --- it was so depressing, I probably didn't even finish composing my post...

    If you want to drink something that "taste just like" something else, why not just eat or drink that thing?

    OTOH, I always found it amusing when someone posts a "Ewww...." kind of response in a thread about a flavored-beer. "No, no" replies the OP, "you hardly even notice the _____".

  20. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,736) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    A lot of the adjuncts they put in stouts are lost on me. Maple Syrup in CBS not that I noticed. The only beers I ever had where the adjuncts were unmissable were with the Junie Stouts, and they were insanely good, caramel floaties in the glass , fudge, coconut , hell you could see them, I was licking the glass.
  21. dennisthreeninefiveone

    dennisthreeninefiveone Initiate (59) Aug 11, 2020 New Jersey

    As I've stated in the past, at some point a beer stops being a beer and becomes a flavored malt beverage. Where that point is a a matter of opinion. My point is not far beyond a coffee Stout. A beer should not taste like a soda fountain drink for a child.
  22. MaltyFlannel

    MaltyFlannel Initiate (16) Oct 30, 2020 Iowa

    my useless take: Beer is made from water, grain, yeast, and hops. These "beer that doesn't taste like beer" posts often refer to beer loaded with something other than the above four ingredients. I had a stout not long ago that was brewed with whole pecan pies. That beer tasted more like pecan pie than anything resembling beer.
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  23. MaltyFlannel

    MaltyFlannel Initiate (16) Oct 30, 2020 Iowa

    This is where I've always landed. Sure a german chocolate cake themed stout might be tasty but tbh i'd rather just eat a german chocolate cake.
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  24. dcotom

    dcotom Poo-Bah (2,667) Aug 4, 2014 Iowa
    Society Trader

    Did you get this in Iowa? :yum:
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  25. MaltyFlannel

    MaltyFlannel Initiate (16) Oct 30, 2020 Iowa

    Perhaps somewhere close to Waukee!
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  26. rozzom

    rozzom Meyvn (1,019) Jan 22, 2011 New York

    I guess a Reinheitsgebot-conforming pilsner is low hanging fruit at one end of the spectrum. And - on the face of it at least - a stout made with whole pecan pies is getting close to as low hanging-fruity as you can get when it comes to telling other people what does/doesn't constitute beer, at the other. The problem is the stuff in the middle. Does Perennial Sump taste like beer? Does Cantillon Fou Foune taste like beer? Does KBS taste like beer? I would say they all do, but someone can easily take the opposite side of that argument.

    Even when you are dabbling firmly in pastry territory - it often comes down to ingredient selection (in terms of the quality of the additions themselves as well as how they are chosen [or often times not] to complement each other) and execution. e.g. talking about two local breweries - Finback and Other Half. Finback made a stout last year called Absorb (the pink labelled one; they made two variants). It was a stout with coffee, marshmallow, graham cracker, banana and chocolate. Sounds gross. It was probably the best stout I had last year - very well balanced/integrated (relatively speaking of course). If Other Half made a stout with the same ingredient list I would almost certainly stay away from it, as it would likely be a sweet mess.

    And my last point - NEIPAs specifically get called out a lot by the more reactionary types. I agree there can be too many taking up shelf/tap space, and I agree the ones at the lactose/fruit puree end of the spectrum can be too much (for me personally). But the ones on the "purer" end of the scale - thinking like the HF Double Citras of the world - I would say they do much more of a service to "beer that tastes like beer" than many of the WCIPAs that were doing the rounds when we hit peak WC(D)IPA times 10 years ago or so. Yet many of the people complaining about NEIPAs hark back to that golden age. I think it all comes down to a combo of how open-minded someone is vs their proclivity to be reactionary about things, as well as when they got into the game. Horses for courses and all that.
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  27. meliscious

    meliscious Initiate (29) Mar 11, 2021 Washington

    Last night I had a beer that tasted like iced tea! Was weird and I barely got thru it.

    It was a cucumber lime pale ale. It had no head and very few bubbles. Seriously resembled a strong brewed ice tea (no ice of course)!

    I also got their Girl Scout Cookie brew. (Can’t remember what style). It was dark amber, had a 3/4” head that laced down the cup (served in plastic ). The brew was modeled after the Samoa gsc. Tasted mostly of coconut and slight chocolate too. I liked that beer and it tasted (to me, haha) like beer!
    Oh yea. I was at Bad Jimmy’s Brewing Co. in Ballard WA. some interesting brews there. Excellent food at Hooligans next door.

    Junior likes this.
  28. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,176) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    There's something in this that says a lot about the sad, current state of beer in the US.

    Well, does "style" really matter if it is brewed to taste like Girl Scout Samoas® ?

    "Well, traditionally a Girl Scout cookie beer was top-fermented, yet aged cold...but some innovative brewers today are using bottom-fermenting lager yeast. Coconut flakes are usually used, never coconut-flavor extract!"
  29. Junior

    Junior Crusader (751) May 23, 2015 Michigan
    Society Trader

    There are so many great things about the state of beer. A few ‘strange’ offerings here and there shouldn’t ruin it for you.
  30. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,176) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Oh, that sad current state of beer I mentioned hasn't "ruined it" for me, no more than watching "light beer" go from a minor novelty product - diet beer - to over 50% of the US beer market. "Sad" doesn't diminish my enjoyment of the other stuff in-between the two extremes.:grin:
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  31. NYRunner

    NYRunner Initiate (72) Nov 5, 2018 New York

    Back in the day, when AALs were pretty much all there was, I drank mostly Coors Light, because it was thin & fizzy and "didn't taste much like beer."

    Jump forward and I tried a Shmaltz Brewery Pastrami Pils, and it tasted, well, like a pastrami sandwich. Mustard, maybe caraway, who knows what else. It sure as heck "didn't taste much like beer" - It was one of the few beers I couldn't finish. Next time I'll have a pastrami sandwich with a pilsner on the side, please.
  32. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Aspirant (212) Aug 24, 2020 California

    Sure, the cake would be great but for me it is the factor of amazement that a brewer can approximate certain food flavors in a totally different format. I totally agree that some beers taste like other foods. I might or might not like them but kudos to the creativity and technical skills of the brewer.
  33. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Aspirant (212) Aug 24, 2020 California

    I think it is excellent that we see all sorts of creative takes on what is "beer" even if I am not a fan of lots of them. It is the idea that people can conceive of the creation and then bring it to reality that is intriguing. There is a continuum of flavors ranging from the barest hint or overtone of say, chocolate, to something that people say tastes"... just like a Hershey bar" So at what point is the beer no longer a beer and now basically a liquid Hershey bar? At what point is the brewer moving from paying "appropriate" or "acceptable" adherence to beer brewing tradition and into the realm where they are dissed as "not brewing beer"?
  34. gyorgymarlowe

    gyorgymarlowe Initiate (100) Aug 24, 2019 Colorado

    I saw this beer on the shelf yesterday. Why you would want to buy a beer that tastes like soda? They even have a Cherry Beer for Pizza. The concept is confusing as it replicates soda, but its called BEER for pizza, and regular old beer and pizza is a classic combo.

    Off Color Beer For Pizza

    Inspired by pizza and pop parties, Beer for Pizza features sweet crystal malts, Belgian dark candi syrup, and vanilla balanced with acidity from lime juice and citric acid. The flavor addition is inspired by the secret “Seven X” blend of citrus, cinnamon, and nutmeg for a juicy, yet spicy/sweet botanical kick. Kola provides a slight caffeine boost while a crisp carbonation enhances the mouthfeel.

    Secret Ingredients: Dark Candi Syrup, Kola Nut, Lime Juice, Vanilla, Lemon Zest, Orange Zest, Orange Blossom, Cinnamon, Coriander, Nutmeg, Citric Acid
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  35. Giantspace

    Giantspace Champion (854) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    I want to be able to say I drank a beer if given a drink and not knowing what it is. If I think I just had a mixed drink and you say it’s a beer then I don’t want another, I’ll just have the mixed drink. I had a French toast bastard on tap in February 20 and it tasted like it’s name but not beer one bit. It was a struggle to drink the 8oz pour. A pour of whiskey would have been a better choice.

    Hops and malt and grain should be tasted somewhere in beer for the most part.

    When folks tell me they don’t like beer and they tried many it’s almost always variations of AAL they have had.

    I use the phrase it does not taste like beer a lot. I know what I mean.

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  36. jasonmason

    jasonmason Initiate (189) Oct 6, 2004 California

    Am I impressed if a brewer can coax the character of (for example) German chocolate cake from a beer utilizing traditional ingredients and limited/no adjuncts? Yes.

    Am I impressed if they do it by literally throwing chocolate cake in the beer, or brewing with such a heavy hand that the beer is a cloying chocolatey sugar bomb with no 'beer' characteristics? No, I am not.

    Therein lies the line for me.
  37. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Aspirant (212) Aug 24, 2020 California

    Well, I think this thread just demonstrated the reason why there are so many variations in available "beer". It is because there are so many opinions about what is worth/not worth drinking. Whatever is unpopular will disappear. Whatever is popular, whether it be fermented yak whizz added to malt+ water, or beer brewed with chunks of chocolate cake will be made until the market is no more. If I can find the perfect beer to complement the perfect desert or BE the perfect desert after a perfect meal I don't give a rat's pattootie how it was made or whether anyone else considers it to be "beer". I have spent enough time with wine snobs to know that definitions and conformance to someone else's view of what is "right" are over-rated.
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