Beer drinkers have more options today than ever before. With 7,000 U.S. breweries and counting, it’s tough to pick favorites. But amidst the myriad milkshake IPAs, and hype stouts that cost more than a monthly car payment, brewers and beer industry vets always have a style they can count on.
We asked industry professionals from California to Kansas to tell us what beer style is a must for any drinking venue. From pilsners to porters, here’s what the pros think should always be on tap.
“Saison. They can be funky, sour, spicy, all over the map but always complex yet refreshing.” — Charlie Cummings, Brewer, Remnant Brewing, Somerville, Mass.
“A porter or a stout. I got into beer through stouts, and the depth of flavor in the maltiness and the richness is always delicious.” — Jane Wiseman, Operations Manager and Brewers Assistant, Clandestine Brewing, San Jose, Calif.
“I think you just always need to have a solid pilsner or lager on that is executed perfectly.” — Christie Merandino, Operations Manager, Transport Brewing, Shawnee, Kan.
“Something that is lighter and sessionable that can get people to cross over that bridge [to craft beer]. Lighter Belgians or saisons, maybe a witbier … those are always really great to have for people that aren’t sure what they want, but they want to try something new.” — Caroline Parnin, Technical Sales Manager, Siebel Institute of Technology, Milwaukee, Wisc.
“My go-to is a session IPA. I want something citrusy and fruity, I want to ease into my night. I want my pine and dank to balance with a nice hop profile. I don’t want it to be too dry. So I will probably always start with a session IPA and then judge going from that point.” — Meryl Wideman, Lab Technician, Deep Ellum Brewing, Dallas, Texas
“I am a fan of having a really dry Irish stout on tap. It’s very rare in Texas.” — Laurie Bell, Bar Manager, St. Elmo Brewing Company, Austin, Texas
“Taprooms or beer bars should always have a pilsner. It is a beer that fits about any palate. A pilsner keeps it simple while being very flavorful at the same time.” — Jason Abbott, Head Brewer, Seedstock Brewery, Denver, Colo.
“There should always be some kind of IPA offered because it’s the top-selling craft beer style.” — Kelly Lynch, Head Brewer, Berthoud Brewing, Berthoud, Colo.
“I’m a true believer that a classic example of one specific style should always be on tap. Maybe it’s a classic Bavarian weissbier that is actually from Bavaria. I know if I see one on tap at a craft beer bar, it is always a choice where you can’t go wrong, and in this day and age of uber creative brands we all know there are a lot of landmines out there.” — Guy Bartmess, Brewmaster, Garage Brewing Co., Murrieta, Calif.
“A well-made keller pilsner.” — James Gentile, Director Brewery Operations, Victory Brewing, Downingtown, Pa.
“Anything nitro, other than Guinness.” — Phin DeMink, Founder/Owner, Southern Tier Brewing, Lakewood, N.Y.