Epic Beer Tasting, Lessons Learned
Posted: January 04, 2012
I received an invite to a pretty epic beer tasting event earlier this week. The focus was on brewery-only stout releases, and the night included 20+ unobtainable stouts. I think they invited me because they needed more bodies to soak up beer. We drank some Dark Lord, some Darkness, some Dark... well, I'll abstain from publishing the whole list. I'm sure the other guys there will be bragging it up soon enough. Trust me, it was geeky. Anyway,the fact that I was slightly out of my element combined with the fact that I wasn't furiously scribbling down notes (as I usually do at tastings) allowed me to notice a few things. Not really new lessons,more of self-evident truths that bear repeating: 1) Geeks love hyperbole. Wine geeks, beer geeks, spirits geeks, music geeks, gadget geeks, whatever geeks just love hyperbole. Knock it off, all of you. Beer geeks, that stout does not taste like charred donkey butt hair, it just doesn't compare as favorably as the other beasts in the tasting. Wine geeks, that chardonnay does not taste like licking a wood plank. Obviously you haven't ever licked a wood plank because wood doesn't actually taste like caramel and vanilla when you lick it. Apple geeks, the newest Android device does not ...bleh. You get the idea. Hyperbole is too easy a crutch. Appreciate everything. 2) Outliers stand out. The beers that seemed to separate themselves from the pack weren't always the best beers, but were more often the different beers. Tart of Darkness stood out because its souring influences gave it a dimension unique to that night's lineup. Hunahpu stood out because its extra spices gave it an entirely different dimension. The point isn't that these beers aren't great, it's just a reminder that tasting is perception and perception is relative. The worst of the night is probably still a great beer, especially if it's the only stout after a lineup of light lagers. 3) Get a ride. My sweet and charming wife offered to drop me off and pick me up. At first I balked at causing her the trouble. But as I enjoyed 20+ heavy stouts, most with sky-scraping ABV, I was able to focus on the beer without worry. Plan ahead. Have an extra Andrew Jackson in your pocket for a cab ride home. Get a bus pass. Take advantage of our city's famous mass transit system. When you know you're getting home safely, you can enjoy the experience that much more. Anything I'm missing? Leave a comment!