Seasonality is important; different weather really does demand different beers. It also tells a compelling story about the ways that beer fits into life’s cycles. So for summer, something light and frothy, with a healthy dose of wheat, perhaps. Fall demands a richer palate—but not too rich—as you will see from the recipe below. Even the hearty beers of winter can be made to appeal to a wider taste, by the subtle use of richly flavored malts, at the same time thinning the body with a bit of ethnic sugar to keep them from being too cloying. Spring is all about being bright and fresh, but with a little more substance to ward off those last chilly breezes.
Dark malts can seem pretty scary to people, being linked in the novice’s mind with the dreaded “heaviness.” (For a country that practically mainlines Starbucks, go figure. Maybe it’s understandable, given the 150-year historical trend towards beer blandness.) So, for introductory beers, I would go no darker than a pale amber color and stay away from overtly toasty malts.
These accommodations still leave us a nice window in which to operate: pale-to-amber color; medium to dry palate; low-to-medium bitterness; a nice fresh dose of hop aroma.
This is the time-honored tradition of session beers, brews drinkers can enjoy pint after pint without falling over. Common, table or “ordinary” beers go back thousands of years, as people have always had the need for an everyday brew.
Beer styles such as Dortmunder, Vienna, bitter and witbier are easy to enjoy as they are, without being lobotomized. Bigger styles such as brown or Christmas ales may work if brewed with restraint. You may also forge off into the land between the styles and create something all your own. When I was first starting out, I brewed a beer called Wifey’s Tender Ale, a delicate amber ale with a kiss of hops that always disappeared quickly in the presence of friends trying to come to terms with my strange new hobby. Think about your audience, then select the malts, hop profile and yeast character to make this the perfect beer to tickle the taste buds of your partygoers.