It's funny how things seem to come together at times. No sooner have I posted on converting lager drinkers than I got to Randy Mosher's thoughts on beers for newbies. I've now got on to Tasting Beer from my big beer book bonanza. Randy's an excellent writer and I'm enjoying the book, even if I doesn't have quite the excitement of Radical Brewing.
In the section on organising beer tasting evenings he gives some thought to winning over the uninitiated:
If you have wine drinkers in the crowd, serving a fruit lambic may be the way to win them over to our side, or at least get them to admit that not all beer is yellow and fizzy. I love to hear them say "I like this. It doesn't taste like beer!". With a general audience it's also not a bad idea to have some yellow fizzy beers. By that I mean something that mainstream drinkers would recognize as beer. It's OK to push them a little, as that is what they are there for. A high class Euro Pilsner or an American wheat beer will work fine in this role. I have found that stronger, darker beers are often well received by women of my mother's age. Dopplebock feeds a sweet tooth, and the bigger, richer stouts have their chocolaty charms. It is often the case that you can push people further than you might have thought. The only area you have to be a little careful with is very hoppy beers. Just like chile heat, bitterness in beer takes some getting used to, so use a sensitive touch unless you have a well-seasoned audience.
Now the situation he's describing isn't quite what I had in mind for my ponderings but Randy's suggestions certainly fit in well with those left as comments after my post.