The topic that was handed down to me this week, was actually handed down to me last week, but I have been so busy that I have not had a chance to write it until now. That being said, I believe it was supposed to be something about what my favorite, and least favorite, types of beer are, and why. I thought long and hard about how I was going to approach this blog, because I tend to write mostly from the gut. I’ll have an opinion on something, and I’ll just write what that opinion is. If somewhere along the line I write something that I feel needs a little proof in my head, to confirm it before I write it, then I will do a little research, otherwise I prefer to just write what comes off the top of the dome. This blog will be no different. I did not do a bunch of research about what goes into certain types of beers, and how they’re made, or how they’re supposed to taste. This blog will just be about how I got into beer, and why I like what I like.
For starters, I think it’s important to establish that up until about seven years ago, I couldn’t have cared less about beer. I was a casual drinker at best. Just a typical Corona, Red Stripe, Stella Artois kind of guy. That had worked for me for a long time. However, sometime shortly after I moved to Dallas, I can remember my wife wanting to attend a local wine festival. Something I had absolutely zero interest in doing. Mainly because I just don’t like wine. Never have. Sure, I could drink a light white wine at a special event, if need be, but generally speaking it just wasn’t my thing. For some reason though, I did have a slight level of envy in the idea that my wife had this beverage, which came in so many varieties, that she could taste test and pick and choose which ones she liked. It sounded kind of fun to me, but there was still no way I was drinking wine. Beer I was cool with though. I figured that I could apply the same philosophy to beer that my wife was applying to wine. Try different kinds, broaden my horizons, and see which ones I liked. So began my journey.
The first thing I did was go online and try to find out what was the best approach for diving into more flavorful beers. Pretty much everything I read had two key suggestions. Most important was starting out mild and working my way up to more rich brews. Thinking that after a lifetime of drinking extremely light beers, that I would be able to dive into a stout or a double IPA, would only doom me right from the start. I was going to take Dr Leo Marvin’s advice and start out with ‘baby steps’. The other piece of advice, which I actually found to be even more valuable, was a slightly more obscure recommendation. It was a formula for truly being able to determine whether or not you actually might like a beer. It’s as simple as this. If you can finish one, no matter how long it takes you, always try a second one. The philosophy behind this is that beers are an acquired taste. If you really hate one, you will know it from the start. You will not even get halfway through a beer if you do not like it, but if you can manage to finish the beer, chances are you will find it even tastier when you crack a fresh one, because it will taste much better than the last gulp you just drank, from the beer you have been sipping on for 30 minutes. I cannot begin to express how accurate that second recommendation has been. With these two tips in hand, I decided I would be leading off with brown ales and blondes.
Turns out, the blondes and the browns were far easier than expected. They were not harsh or bitter. They were actually quite mild. The flavor itself was the only new thing, which is to say, they actually had a flavor. I was very anxious to advance quickly in this process, so within just a few months, and thanks to the ability to create variety packs at the supermarket, I had tried several blondes and brown ales and was now ready to up my game to something with more punch. This took me to lagers.
I found out very quickly that there are far more varieties of lagers then there are blondes and brown ales. Initially, I was trying lagers that didn’t look very dark, figuring that I would be more likely to adapt that way. So far, I was following my first beer recommendation perfectly, and all was going well. Then I tried a black lager, and for the first time I had to apply recommendation number two. I can still remember the bitter beer face I gave my wife when I took my first gulp. She looked at me and just said, “Oh baby. It doesn’t look like you like that one.” I must admit, I wasn’t initially thinking about recommendation number two at the time, because up until then things had gone so smoothly. Nevertheless, I pressed forward and found myself slowly getting through the first beer. Sure enough, when I cracked that second one and took a sip, it didn’t taste nearly as bad. I guess beer drinkers actually do know what the hell they’re talking about. I can say without reservation, that I have applied recommendation number two frequently, and it has worked nearly 100% of the time.
After the lagers, came the IPAs. Then the double IPAs. Then the triple bocks, and the stouts. Then came the flavored beers, and from there on out the world of beers was wide open. There isn’t a beer out there that I’m not willing to try, and honestly there really isn’t a beer out there that I hate. I’m not a big fan of beers with unusual flavors though. At its heart, I still want a beer that tastes like a beer, and not like pumpkin pie. As with any alcoholic beverage, I do appreciate a good little buzz, so I do find myself looking for beers with higher alcohol content, so as not to need a full six-pack to feel good. Like I said, there are no beers that I absolutely can’t stand, so I will just leave you with a short list of the ones I really like. I wish I could offer some rhyme or reason as to why I prefer these ones, but I am not a connoisseur. I just know what I like, so here you go.
Imperial Stout——–Old Rasputin.
Milk Stout—————The Temptress.
IPA is a tie————Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada.
Belgian Style Triple— Devil’s Backbone
Black Lager———-Ugly Pug
Bock Style————Dead Guy Ale (LOVE THIS BEER)
I’ll leave you by saying that if you have always wished that you drank a more worthy beer, and are ready to give up the bullshit domestic beers, from the heavyweights, that get promoted constantly on TV, I highly recommend following in my footsteps and seeing where it takes you. All I can say is that 7 years ago, the list of beers you see above, would have never, ever, ever found their way into my home. I am so glad that they did. It was totally worth it. Stay thirsty my friends (but don’t drink Dos Equis, because that shit sucks). 🙂