There are a great, great deal of beer-drinkers out there whose drink choices could be likened to the innocuous, predictable game show, “Wheel of Fortune.”
That show features two hosts (Miller, Budweiser), both with subtle differences but neither particularly memorable; it trots out new variations every once in a while to spice things up (the Miller Lite Punch Top, Bud Light Platinum); and it’s consistent and easy to find. “Wheel of Fortune” serves its purpose, but at the end of the day, there’s little excitement involved outside of buying a vowel in a puzzle featuring the word “rhythm.”
If you’ve had it with Sajak and his (relatively mild) antics, there’s an opportunity to branch out at Saturday’s Hilton Head Island Taste of Summer Craft Beer Festival at Shelter Cove. There will be about 60 different craft beers from 20 breweries, which could seem daunting if you’re used to only choosing between “consonant, vowel or solve?” The good news is that the beers at the festival fall into categories, many of them similar to the tropes found on the sitcoms that come on when you forget to turn off the TV after “Wheel.”
Allow me to to provide you with a beer-to-sitcom guide:
LAGER: THE STRAIGHT MAN
The lager is a beer known for its balance of hops and malt and relatively inoffensive flavor (it’s also the classification under which the big macrobrews fall). It’s a solid drink that will keep you entertained, but likely won’t be the one you remember when you look back on your afternoon.
Sitcom comparison: Jim Halpert, “The Office”
Featured at the festival: Sierra Nevada Summerfest Lager, Bell’s Lager
HEFEWEIZEN/WHEAT BEER: THE HOT CHICK
Its orange glow is easy on the eyes (especially when served with an actual orange). This malty wheat beer tastes better the warmer the sun shines. With a smooth complexion and warm citrus notes, you’re just glad it’s around.
Sitcom comparison: Heidi, “Home Improvement”
Featured at the festival: Lightning Brewery’s Thunderweizen, Stevens Point Nude Beach Summer Wheat
PALE ALE: SMART ALECK BEST FRIEND
A light-bodied beer that gets its flavor from its bitter hops. A very drinkable beer on a summer day, it’s a great, loyal companion.
Sitcom comparison: Steven Hyde, “That ’70s Show”
Featured at the festival: Palmetto Brewing’s Pale Ale, Abita Restoration Pale Ale
IPA: CRAZY NEIGHBOR
Like the pale ale, only with a stronger hop personality and higher alcohol content. Memorable, just be careful not to get too much.
Sitcom comparison: Steve Urkel, “Family Matters”
Featured at the festival: Carolina Flagship IPA, Victory Headwaters Pale Ale
BROWN ALE: THE GIRL NEXT DOOR
The brown ale might not be the sexiest beer you drink, but it’s got great character. Lightly carbonated with notes of caramel and chocolate, the beer is fun to hang out with and just sweet enough that it won’t hate you for overlooking it for four seasons.
Sitcom comparison: Winnie Cooper, “The Wonder Years” (Yes, I know it’s not a sitcom. No, I don’t care.)
Featured at the festival: Kona Koko Brown
THE BELGIANS/TRIPELS: THE POT-STIRRER
With a high alcohol content and a strong, distinctive taste, Belgian beer brings out strong opinions in both positive and negative. It will get you talking.
Sitcom comparison: Marie Barone, “Everybody Loves Raymond”
Featured at the festival: Steenbrugge Tripel, Alagash Triple
FRUIT BEER: THE CHARACTER CREATED IN THE FIFTH SEASON TO SPICE THINGS UP
I may get some flack for this, but in general, I can’t stand fruit beers. Sure, a small glass is an interesting change of pace, but I typically can’t drink more than one or two in a row. Fun while it lasts, however brief that may be.
Sitcom comparison: Cousin Oliver, “The Brady Bunch”
Featured at the festival: Fort Collins Brewing’s Major Tom’s Pomegranate Wheat, Southern Tier’s Raspbery Wheat
Andy hopes you don’t get too crazy with the remote and remember to call a cab. E