First Beer Experiences – Michael Lally


Michael is an Australian who has lived in London for 11 years. He blogs about beer at and is the co-host of The Beer Podcast. Follow him @bushcraftbeer.

When did you have your first taste of beer?

Well, my first taste probably would have few cheeky sips from my Dad’s cans of Tooheys during family barbecues during hot Australian summers when I was a boy growing up in the suburbs of Sydney in the 80s. 

Looking back, I would suggest there was something important here in terms of the cultural setting for drinking beer. Family. Beer. Summer BBQs. Beer was the go to drink in these settings.

When you get to an age where drinking becomes more acceptable, the beer was always macro beer - Tooheys New, Carlton Draught, VB. There wasn’t a huge different between them, but soon you get bored and look for what else is out there. 

What was your impression of beer before then?

Beer was my Dad’s drink. I recall it being sweet and malty, with an unusual aroma, although I don’t think I that’s what thought at the time. Being from an Irish family, there was a definite sense of the mythical importance of Guinness. Was it a beer? When I was younger I wasn’t sure but I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to try it. One overarching sense was that beer was and remains such a social drink.

What was your reaction to that first sip?

For young, immature palettes beer is an acquired taste, but it really doesn’t take long for your palette to adjust. 

How have your thoughts about beer changed since then?

Oh absolutely. My eyes and my mind have been opened and expanded as to what beer can be. The different styles, beers from different countries, flavour profiles, old breweries, new breweries. The diversity of beer is mind blowing. One constant is the social element of beer.
What beer would you recommend to someone who wants to try it for the first time, and why?
I would always start with something easy drinking and accessible. A well-made lager or a pale ale. I have never met anyone who didn’t like a pint of Kernel Pale Ale. Back in Sydney, back in the day the gateway beer to better beer was Coopers Pale Ale or a Little Creatures Pale Ale. For many today it would be Stone and Wood Pacific Ale.

Mike Hampshire