Jan 11, 2014

What do you "think" you are drinking?

As you may have noticed, I rarely, if ever do reviews on this page. The closest I get to reviewing beers, is when I announce a release, then I will normally put a little something about what flavors are in which ever particular beer I am talking about (normally just from the brewers notes). On occasion, I will offer my opinion on a specific beer, if I find I just love it, and want to share the love with the masses, the most recent example of this that I can recall is SanTan's Mr. Pineapple.

Why do I not "review" beers? I find it to be almost useless for two reason....
 1.) If you want to read reviews on a particular beer, you can go on hundreds of sites, and read thousands of reviews on just about any beer.
2.) Why does my "opinion" of a beer, or anyone else's matter? With the exception of trained processionals, Cicerones, brewers etc, what does it matter what I think of a beer? Looking at brewers notes should tell you all you need to know about a beer and weather you should try it. Looking at the rating of a beer tells you nothing about the beer. In fact, I think looking at ratings may in fact taint your perception of the beer. Here is why....
I can across an article about drinking beer and perception (check it out here), and how it effects your enjoyment of a beer. Basically, it boils down to, if you want to like the beer, or even love, or hate it, you probably will. Taste is our weakest sense, and the one most influenced by other senses (I have no science to back this up, this is my feelings on it). If you are handed a beer from a brewer you respect, and hold in very high regard, and you are told "this is his best beer yet", 9 times out of 10, you will be, at the very least, impressed by this beer, because you want to be.
Conversely, if you are handed a beer, and told it is brewed by InBev, or Coors, chances are, you will hate that beer. You will hate it before you even try it. Because we don't want to like a beer brewed by a large brewery or a "sell out" like Sam Adams, regardless of how enjoyable that beer may be. Its human nature.
Which is why one of my pet peeves when reading reviews is seeing phrases like "not as much hop character as I was expecting" or "not what I was hoping for". Which really only tells me, if you brewed this beer, you would brew it differently, it tells me NOTHING of the hop character, because I have no idea what you were "expecting". I respect reviews that leave much of the "opinion" out of it, and will just say stuff like"hints of this" or a "finish of that", and not crap like "wow, this beer is amazing" or "what crap this was". That isn't a review, that is just an opinion piece.
I've hosted a number of beer tasting, and most of the time, I do blind tastings. This is the only TRUE way to get peoples honest opinions without outside influence. This is why beer competitions are judged in this fashion. This past summer, we hosted a "summer beer tasting". At the tasting were a number of serious, self proclaimed "beer geeks". We tasted a bunch of summer beer styles, and rated them all, without knowing what we were drinking. I wasn't surprised to see that Blue Moon,  and Sam Adams Summer Ale both scored really high. When told they scored Blue Moon really high, I actually got a few that responded "no I didn't, I hate that crap" or something similar. My response to them was "no, you don't, you just think you do".
Line for Founders CBS
This is also the reason I don't take beer too serious, why I don't wait in line hours upon hours for a release, or spend hundreds of dollars shipping beer all over the country in hopes finding that one whale of a beer. With the exception of a few beers, to me, these beers never live up to the hype, and are NEVER worth the time and effort put into procuring them. I can almost always find something similar (not exactly the same, but close) in taste, that is more readily available, at a much lower price. (almost always). So, I just don't do it, my time and money is worth more to me. Again, this is JUST my opinion, I know for a lot of people, the thrill is in the hunt, and I get that, I don't begrudge you that at all, its just not for me.
Its for this reason that I am very reluctant to offer "specific" beers when asked that dreaded question "what is a good beer to have at my BBQ" or something like that, I hate that, seriously, and here is why;  I have no idea what you like, and what I love to drink at BBQ's, you may hate. I've actually been told after recommending a beer "man, I thought you were  a beer guy, we picked up some [whatever beer I recommended] and it was horrible". So, if you asked me for a beer recommendation, except a fairly long, indirect answer, that probably won't give you a specific brand to look for.

My simple motto "if you like it, its a good beer for you". I may hate it, I may share your love of it, but that doesn't make it any less of a great beer for you, at least it shouldn't, and I hope it doesn't. Don't let others opinions effect your perception or enjoyment of any beer. I know the beer community can be pretty harsh towards beer (and people that drink it) that they don't consider "craft" or worthy of drinking. So what, if you like it, drink it, enjoy it, be proud of it. It matters not if you brewed it in a 2 gallon batch in your garage, or if it is brewed by the thousands of gallons at a mega brewery in St Louis, or Golden Colorado, if you like it, its a good beer. Cheers!

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar

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