Sep 13, 2012

Drinking in Context...don't be so serious...

You hear me talk a lot in recent posts about “drinking in context”. Meaning, drinking the “right” beer for the current setting or situation. I think a lot of times, beer people tend to take beer a little too serious, or have lost the ability to see the fun in it. They get so caught up with weather they are drinking a “good” beer, or not, they lose sight of whether or not they are drinking the right beer for the current situation. Let me explain…

...but this looks SO much better!

This looks "OK"?

Let’s get away from beer for a minute. Let’s take a standard, run of the mill middle shelf Margarita. Take that margarita, and drink it in an Applebee’s, or Chili’s, in say, Gilbert Arizona, or Detroit Michigan. It would taste OK, like a middle shelf margarita from a corporate chain restaurant. Now, take that very same margarita, the EXACT same one, and now, drinking it on a beach, in Key West, or St Thomas, or Cabo San Lucas. Tell me that very same margarita isn’t going to taste better on a beach than it does in the Motor City. That my friends, is drinking in context.

This seems "right"..
Same with beer. A few posts ago, I made reference to this, while at the “beach bar” at Guedo’s Taco Shop, drinking a Corona, or Negro Modulo actually adds to your experience. While on its own, either of those beers really doesn’t taste like much, and would be considered “bad” beers by beer folks, it seems almost silly to drink anything else while at a place like this.

....this, not so much!
One of my favorite beers in the world in Dogfish Head’s Palo Santo. This is an ass kicker of a beer. It’s almost black, thick and viscous, and packs a 12% ABV. It’s a strong, heavy beer, and I love it. That being sad, I am not about to get one while I am sitting pool side on a hot summer day. I’m going to grab a Red Stripe, or Corona, Landshark, or something like that. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t any good craft beer that goes well pool side, on a hot summer day. Bells Oberon is a great beer for just such an occasion, as is our local Four Peaks Sunbru, or even Sam Adams Summer Ale.

Great new Mexican place???
It’s not to say that you can’t have one of these heavy strong beers while sitting on the beach if you want(again, there are no rules, no right or wrong), I’m just simply pointing out, there is a time and a place. Beer that in a normal situation, wouldn’t taste good, or have no taste at all, given the right situation, can actually ad to the fun and authenticity of your experience. Like the old expression, “when in Rome”. It’s so true. Reminds me of a trip back to Maine I took some years ago. After landing, my friends asked where I wanted to go for dinner. I asked what was around, and they responded "well, this great new Mexican place just opened up" My response was "I just came from Arizona, to Maine, and you ask if I want to get Mexican food? That would be like me taking you to Red Lobster if you visited Arizona". You don't go to Belgium, and get an Irish Stout, or to Germany and get an American Light Lager! When you are traveling, or out to someplace you've never been before, don’t go for something familiar, try something local or new (to you at least). You may end up not liking it, or even hating it, but you will have experienced a bit of local culture, or something new, and grown just a little because of it.

Beer tasting, while structured, should still be fun
Also remember, beer should be fun, beer IS fun, and we need to remember that. Don't let it get to serious, I know it sounds odd, but it happens. I have seen friends that are “beer people” like myself, but they have seemed to lose their focus on why they started enjoying craft beer to begin with. I’ve been to tastings, where people have gotten into “discussions”, almost arguments as to whether the color of a beer was amber, or ruby, or weather this was a "true IPA" and not say, and a hybrid American Pale Ale. Instead of simply stating their opinion, listen to what others thought, and moving on, they felt the need to defend their opinion, as if someone was accusing them of being wrong, or Oh god forbid, not knowing as much about beer as the other person (a true insult in the beer community!). I mean, what difference does it make? I can think the color of the beer is amber, and you could think it’s purple. I can think it tastes like an IPA, you can think it tastes like a milk shake, so what? When it comes down to it, it’s all subjective anyway to anyone but true professionals anyway. No one is right, no one is wrong. What is a good beer? A good beer is one you like; a bad beer is one you don’t. It doesn’t make a difference who brewed it, how long you stood in line for to get it, or how big a batch it was made in. A good beer comes down to one thing, taste. Does it taste good, does it taste bad; does this beer “fit” the situation in which I am drinking it? Next time you are out, at a bar, or restaurant you’ve never been too, again, don’t order something you’ve had, ask the bar tender what is local, or seasonal. Trust me, it can only add to your experience. Even if you don’t like the beer, don’t look at it as buying a bad beer, think of it as learning what beer not to buy in the future.
So, try something new, try something local, you may just find a new favorite. If you do find a new favorite, I would love to hear about, so please, drop a line!
Bottoms up my friends
The Beer Czar


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