Several years ago I learned a few things at a beer dinner one night, most of those things have stayed with me and help keep me directed now, and most certainly in the future.
I learned what brettanomyces is in great glorious details, what made sour beer.. well…sour, I can’t drink nearly the amount of beer that I thought, and I learned in an indirect way that ALL beer is good. That was the really important piece of information.
As beer drinkers, lovers, geeks, aficionados, evangelists, or just part time imbibers we should not only take that point to heart, but; actually embrace it every time we take the time to engage in that passion.
All beer is good really came from a conversation about beer style, with a brewer, who basically explained to me in no uncertain terms that there was no such thing as style. A style is just an easy way to put a recognizable and repeatable consistent definition on a set of flavor and mouth feel characteristics. I just figured that it worked well with food, liquor, wine, and other things, so why not beer…
The craft, micro, artisan, what ever you want to call it, beer industry has grown – and we all dig that – because beer finally got out of the box, so to speak. Actually got out of the style box. Individuals, brewers, companies, and drinkers have gotten over the style boundaries set forth to them by their predecessors. We the drinkers (i.e. buyers) have basically begun to demand it through seeking out the newest, rarest, weirdest, oldest, strongest, versions we can find. All of us have a stable of go to’s, the old reliable that never let’s you down, that one (ok, maybe 12) beers that are always in your fridge, cellar, or fermentor, but; we still are always on the hunt for the next new treat. We the buyers are the influencers of the industry; we drive the direction and growth.
Let’s all try to remember that beer is really about whether the drinker enjoys the process of consuming it or not. Basically, whether it tastes good or not, and we all have individual opinions on that point. I enjoy things for certain reasons, could be my mood, the weather, the company I am with, or because of a distinctive flavor profile. We might not share those same leanings and opinions. Do remember to share your passion for beer with all those around that care to listen, because the more people that want to try new and different things will grow, and as those people grow in numbers, the breweries will listen and continue to make new and different beers. So, don’t look down your nose at the person sitting next to you at the bar, or in line at the liquor store, who is enjoying something that you don’t care for. Instead, strike up a conversation with them, share your enthusiasm and knowledge, and better yet share a beer.
Funny thing, that conversation that lead to these thoughts occurred on the last night of the Great American Beer Festival several years ago. The Brewers Association puts beer into neat little style boxes in order to organize them for judging. His brewery had just won a few medals that afternoon, two were missing that night and he could have cared less. He was much more concerned with wiping style out of my beer vernacular. Basically opening up my own self constructed little box of beer opinion.
All beer is good. Somewhere, someone, has just put their lips around a cold one that you can’t stand, and they love it! They don’t care where it came from, what ingredients were used, who made it, etc. They just like that beer.
I like to explain it this way, “I’ve never had a beer I did not like, I just like some a lot more than others.”
Tags: artisan beer, Be thirsty!, beer, beer industry, beer snob, beer style, Brettanomyces, brewer, Brewers Association, buyer, craft beer, drinking, GABF, Great American Beer Festival, market, micro beer, sour beer, tasting, vernacular