To my observation there are several steps or stages that one goes through in their beer appreciation development. The first stage I call the adjunct lager stage. At the adjunct lager stage most of us are not drinking for taste but merely to get inebriated. I can’t imagine anyone savoring or anticipating a Coor’s, Miller or Budweiser. These beers provide a simple (i.e. tasteless) and affordable way to “get there”. Most American beer drinkers never leave this stage.
The second stage I call the Honey Brown stage. At this point the actual flavor of the beer (as well as the alcoholic affect) is taken into consideration. These beers are fairly obvious in flavor though (i.e. sugar) with little complexity. Brands of the kind include: Honey Brown, Killian’s Irish Red, Pete’s Wicked, etc). The key point here though is that the flavor isn’t an afterthought (as in stage one) but definitely anticipated, recognized and appreciated.
The third stage is the big one. I refer to this as the Sam Adams stage. If you can appreciate Sam Adams (or any other beer with significant hops) you have arrived. At this point you can approach and hopefully appreciate a wide variety of beer styles like IPA, German Pilsener, and other profound and “real” beers.