Beer is Perception

A friend of mine, who was new to beer at the time, commented to me that he had found a beer that was the most horrible, nasty tasting substance that he had ever had. The description included words like “motor oil”, and “thick”. I inquired the name of the beer. Now, keep in mind this friend was a beer newbie at the time. American Domestics had been his beer of choice until just prior to this conversation. He told me that the beer was Old No.38. Old No.38 is a beer by North Coast Brewing, a brewery with an impeccable reputation and a knack for brewing some great beers.

Jump forward about two weeks. While hanging out one day, my buddy asked me if I wanted a beer. I told him that I did, and I wanted to try one of his Old No.38. He brought it to me and I poured it into a glass. The color was a deep, dark brown, and the head was a medium tan. There was less nose on the beer than on some I have tried, but it still, a nice, though mild scent came up out of glass. Not a lot of hops, but a bit of coffee and a touch of caramel. The first sip was wonderful. A well balanced beer, it gave a nice roasted flavor that didn’t linger too long on the palate. It was a truly great stout.

My buddy fully thought that I was having him on. He said that there was no way I really liked it, and I was saying I liked it to mess with him. I told him that I was sincere, and that the beer was very good. He was amazed. I, on the other hand, wasn’t. I told him that coming right off of American lagers; this beer was way too big for him.

It is an odd thing, in that I have seen people who have had no real experience with beer, taste their first pint of Guinness and then embark on a life-long love affair with the Black Stuff. That is the exception to the rule. Most people need to expand and grow their palates before making the leap to porters, tripples, and IPAs. My friend simply needed more time and experience before he could appreciate that beer.

He did learn to appreciate Old No.38. A couple of months later, he walked up while I was drinking one and asked me what I was having. I offered him a sip, without explanation. He drank it and commented that it was good. I told him what it was, and he was a little surprised. I say a little surprised because in time he first tried it and when he tried it again, his palate had been through an obstacle course of beer. I had led him down many new roads, and he was fully on his way to appreciating beer. Not “Brand A” or “Brand B”, but beer, as a whole. His palate matured over those many weeks between tastes.

The lesson here is to try beer. Life is short; don’t spend it drinking one thing that you think you love. Get out there and try everything, then decide if your first love was real or not. If you are a novice, try beers that you don’t think you will like. Try everything. You may well not like quite a few, but don’t give up. Keep trying new beers and in a few months, come back to that beer that you really didn’t like. You will be surprised how often you find that it isn’t as bad as that first try. In fact, you might well like some of the beers that you found offensive. Open your mind to the idea of new beers. Remember, beer is perception. If you perceive that a dark beer will taste a certain way, whether it does or not, it will when you taste it. Break through your biases and perceptions and take an adventure. Remember; life is too short. Get out there and get to tasting.


~ by tardoin on June 22, 2011.

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