Beers snobs can be really annoying. I know because many of my friends find me annoying. Yes, I admit it, I am a beer snob. But I really have little else to be snobby about. I drive a cheap car, shop for my clothes at Target, and order the cheapest wine on the menu when I go to a fancy restaurant, which is almost never. So grant me this indulgence.
This is not to say that I don’t appreciate the merits of a simple American lager. I enjoy long-neck Buds with my crawfish boil, and it just feels wrong to drink an Anchor Steam while listening to country music — give this man a Blue Ribbon. I would, however, rather have a kick in the head than drink a Natural Light.
Now, there are some people who are content to drink lawn mower beer their whole lives, but for me, there is so much more to beer. The piney woods aroma of Cascade hops, the caramel-sweet maltiness of an Oktoberfest, the raisiny earthiness of a Belgian dubbel. Beer is one of life's great pleasures, and it is even better when enjoyed with friends.
Which brings us to the purpose of this column: exploring the world of beer with you, my friends. We’ll learn a bit along the way and hopefully have a good time doing it. The learning part should be fairly painless. I’ll do most of the studying and pass my notes on to you (I did this a lot in high school to keep from getting beat up). There will be no pop quizzes or exams, but for those who like to show off, we may feature some beer trivia contests or have taste challenges during the year. You’ll learn that International Bittering Units are not legal tender and that sparging is not what Nicole Richie does after eating (although it is similar, in a way).
The idea is that a bit of knowledge can actually add to the enjoyment of beer. I know this because my wife’s eyes get all teary when I talk about original gravity (oh, wait, are they just glassing over?).
Each week, I’ll discuss a variety of beer-related topics including news about local brewpubs, breweries and taprooms; national and international beers you should know about; beer-related travel stories; and tidbits about home brewing, blue laws and beer happenings. In addition, I will have a beer pick to share. It might be from a local brewpub, on tap at your local tavern, or available at the liquor store. I also look forward to meeting you at Creative Loafing Beer Club events.
Next week we’ll start to explore the many flavors, colors and textures of beer. Although typically consisting of only four or five ingredients, the range of concoctions that can be brewed up is truly phenomenal. Understanding what each ingredient contributes to the mix will help you learn to identify those flavors you are tasting, so you will know what you like and what you don’t.
So your homework for this week is to vow to really taste your beer. To get the full flavor, you need to put it in a glass. Don’t argue, just do as I say. Take a whiff of the aroma as you take a small sip. Taste it on the tip of your tongue and on the back of your tongue. Does it taste like carbonated corn-boiling water? Then put down that mass-produced American light lager and get yourself a real beer for crying out loud! See you next week!