Homemade Beer Mustard and Gateway Beers: Best Introductory Craft Beers

beer mustard

I’ve made mention of Gateway Beers before, beer that serves as an easy introduction to craft beer as well as offers a fine example of the flavor profiles available. Beer that eases the curious into the pool of craft beer flavor, while giving a preview of what’s to come once you decide to wind yourself down the labyrinth of craft beer exploration. I’ve scoured my beer drinking past to present to you my favorite, accessible, easy to drink and hard to forget craft beers.

Wheat Beer

The most readily available wheat beers will most likely have the designation of Hefeweizen or White Ale. With a smooth, mellow, drinkability, this is a great first stop on the train to full blown beer obsession. For the craft beer newbie, these are a great palce to start.


1. Allagash White. This is a beautifully balanced example of a white ale. It’s bright, crisp, fruity and citrusy. Of all the beer I recommend as Gateway Beer, this is at the top of my list. It’s also very well distributed, look for it at most major supermarkets with craft beer selections. Allagash White

2. Hangar 24 Orange Wheat. This is a vibrant and clean wheat beer from a rapidly growing brewery out of Redlands California. It’s well balanced with a mild, not overly sweet, orange taste pulled from groves right in the breweries own back yard. Hangar is very well distributed on the West Coast, and with a motivated team, that distribution is growing daily. (Available in both bottles and cans)

Hanger 24-10-2

3. Dogfish Head, Festina Peche. This is just fun beer. It packs a peach punch, and while it may be a bit on the sweet side for those lovers of bitter beer, it’s a great way to show off what beer can do to those have never ventured inside the beer world.

Chili Beer Chicken WIngs Bottle

IPA’s and Other Pales

Although “pale ale” is a bit of a broad stroke when it comes to the spectrum of craft beer, it seems to be where most newbies want to begin. With flavors that range wildly from citrus to caramel, it’s a great place to hang out for while when exploring craft beer.

IPA Lemon Bars3 Eagle Rock Populist Bottle_

1. Eagle Rock Populist. The IPA is the corner stone of the craft beer movement, the poster child for Beer Drinkers Beer, but with high levels of intensity and bitterness, a beer style that should be approached with caution for those new to the scene. Look for an IPA that has a strong malt backbone to balance the hops and lower level IBU’s (international bitterness units). While the Populist kicks you quite a few hops, the low notes of malt and caramel give a nice smooth balance that’s rounded out with citrus and pineapple. It’s a great one for those who have a taste for craft beer, but have yet to venture into the higher hop end of the scale.

lemon pilsner cake bottle

2. North Coast Scrimshaw. This is a fantastic example of a pilsner from one of my favorite breweries, North Coast. It’s the perfect beer to give to the Macro Beer Drinker in your life to show them a clean and drinkable beer that also has tons of flavor. It’s really well distributed on the West Coast, but worth seeking out if you’re farther East.


3. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Sierra Nevada deserves a lot of credit when it comes to the ground work that was laid for the current Craft Beer movement. While the macro breweries spent millions to convince the 1990’s beer drinking public that “bitter beer face” was the fate worse than death, Sierra Nevada persevered, holding tight to the beauty of a well bittered beer. Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale was the Gateway Beer for a nation, a way to open the door and pave a foundation for what is taking place now.

The Dark Beers
Those new to the beer scene are always afraid of the inky black beers, assuming that the color is an indication of harsh taste. The color comes from roasting the malt and/or barley before brewing, making these beers surprisingly smooth and mellow. Nearly all dark beers have lower hop profiles and a smooth drinkability. If you are a coffee or bourbon drinker (and especially those naughty few who like the bourbon coffee), a nice stout will be right up your alley. The two most common dark beers are Stouts and Porters, the differences are relatively minor and often debated. When cooking, stouts and porters are completely interchangeable.
1. Left Hand Milk Stout. I was lucky enough to get my grubby paws on one of these in Boston, a truly unforgettable experience for a beer lover. This is a fantastic beer to seek out for craft beer devotees as well as those new to craft beer, the velvety creamy taste will make you a believer in the dark side. Unfortunately for me (and other West Coasters), it’s biggest distribution is on the East Coast.
stout cookies bottle
2. North Coast Old Rasputin. I have a weakness for this one, especially when it’s on nitro. If you know someone who loves bourbon, but claims to hate beer, seek out the Old Rasputin Bourbon Barrel Aged bottle to change their mind about what beer tastes like. It’ll turn a brown liquor drinker into a beer drinker in a second.
3. Rogue Chocolate Stout. Chocolate beer is so many guilty pleasures all in one, and few people can resist the idea of drinking their chocolate. This version is easy to recommend due to it’s wide availability and impressive distribution. I hear those who work for Rogue are smooth talking geniuses, which may be why it’s easy to find anywhere from Kentucky to Korea.
beer mustard2Mustard is a great way to introduce people to the flavors of craft beer in the kitchen. Because of the relatively small amount of beer called for in this recipe I like a strong IPA with low notes of malt, caramel and nuts.
Homemade Beer Mustard


  • ¼ cup mustard seeds
  • 2 tbs mustard powder
  • ½ cup IPA
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoons salt
  • pinch cayenne
  • 2 tsp cream style horseradish
  • ½ tsp honey


  1. Add mustard seeds, mustard powder, IPA, vinegar, salt and cayenne in a glass bowl, stir until well combined.
  2. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours.
  3. Add to a small food processor or blender along with the horseradish and honey, process until mostly smooth but some whole seeds remain.
  4. Transfer to an airtight container, store in the fridge.

22 thoughts on “Homemade Beer Mustard and Gateway Beers: Best Introductory Craft Beers

  1. Great list! Festina Peche and Left Hand Milk Stout are two of my favorites… the Milk Stout on nitro is just ridiculous.

  2. Even better than the Left Hand Milk Stout? The Nitro version, awesome. Just had O’Dell’s IPA the other day and it was very very good.

    I’m a sucker for pretty much any kind of chocolate stout and you should try to get your hands on 4-Hands Brewery’s Chocolate Milk Stout, from St. Louis.

    1. That sounds awesome! I had the Nitro version of Left Hand, it was super creamy. Totally loved it. I don’t see a lot of O’Dells here but I’ll keep looking. Thanks!

  3. love this list! always looking for beers to suggest when i’m drinking with newbies. i’ll be keeping an eye out for the populist.

    i’ve always wanted to make my own mustard…i imagine this would be good on a warm soft pretzel 🙂

  4. Can you believe I used to live right in Longmont, CO where Left Hand is brewed? It’s worth a trip just for their tap room and a stop at the Tasty Weasel (Oskar Blues tap room).

    My gateway beer was an ODell’s Easy Street Wheat, though I’m now an official hop head…remind me why I left CO?

  5. First, this mustard belongs in my fridge!

    Second, you are so right: wheat beer is the gateway drug to a full-blown beer obsession. It was for me, anyway.

    And third, Sierra Nevada is my alltime favorite beer. Well, after Anchor Steam, but they both own my heart. Have you ever been to the brewery? They’re huge into sustainability and eco-friendly production. You’d love it 🙂

  6. I have always been a stout fan but I honestly don’t know enough about wheat beers and pale ales to be judgmental – they all sound wonderful! Thanks for the crash course!

    p.s. I don’t know how far beer migrates, but if you can ever find it, I think you will love Cereal Killer ale & Shipwrecked Porter (both from Arcadia Brewing co. in Battle Creek MI).

  7. I will NEVER EVER buy stone ground mustard again. This was so good that I immediately sat down with half of my batch and wood-chippered through some pretzels.

  8. This mustard is delicious! I have made many different mustard recipes in the last year (this was recipe #8) and this one is my favourite. Many of the other mustard recipes I tried were so spicy they could have been used for chemical warfare, but not this one. This recipe has a nice balance of a little bit of bite, with good flavour and a really nice texture. Great recipe!!

    Recipe Notes: I used a mixture of yellow and brown mustard seeds (2/3 yellow to 1/3 brown), soaked for 24 hours, only 1 tsp of horseradish, no cayenne

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