Tasting Guidelines Revisited

The number one thing that has gone amuck with beer tasting is that people are forgetting the fundamental reason why we drink beer in the first place. Drinking beer is supposed to be interactive and it’s supposed to be enjoyable.  We have succumbed to the geeks and the know-it-alls and collectively decided that knowing about beer is just as important as the actual experience of drinking it. Drinking beer is becoming more about categorization than appreciation; beer is becoming more about conformity than about enjoyment. We should change this. We should put beer back in the hands of the drinker and let them choose what they enjoy. Sure, learning about an amazing and complex product can help you enjoy it.  Understanding the history and the origins of a particular style will give you the foundation to appreciate something new or esoteric, but as a beer community we should also celebrate consuming beer that is good and fresh right now.

I’m not saying we should go back to drinking boring yellow macro crap. I’m saying that people should be encouraged to drink great crafted beer and explore style as they so choose. We have become snobby and judgmental towards people who don’t enjoy big IPA’s or who cannot identify with Belgian-style sour beers. All palates develop differently and how people identify with flavour is very personal and subjective. We need to educate and incubate new beer enthusiasts so that boring beer and its marketing don’t regain their previous momentum. New beer drinkers are intimidated by tyrannical overzealous beer nerds.

Now back to actually tasting the beer. I agree that to truly enjoy all the subtle nuances in great beer it should be served in appropriate glassware and it should be served at the proper temperature. You should first smell the beer and then hold it in your mouth before completely consuming the entirety of the sip. These are great suggestions for advanced beer tasting. If you want to take it further you can even grab some crackers, coffee beans and a blind fold. Another suggestion that will guarantee maximum enjoyment: beer should be appreciated with awesome people, a comfortable atmosphere, and great food. Maybe we should trade the new accompaniment of “pretentiousness” that has become a beer hall tasting staple for the old accompaniment of laughter and good times.

– Soc

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  1. Carla Bower June 16, 2015 at 8:31 am · · Reply

    Hey Soc, Jayson and I had such a great time last week when we came to Last Best with the Banff Beer Club. Your above post hit the nail on the head for me. I sometimes have trouble articulating my thoughts. The tasting for me was exceptional. It gave me the chance to experience new brews without committing to a $20 six pack of unknown! I also agree whole-heartedly about beer and its enjoyment these days. Social media has brought us so much exposure to new and exciting things unfortunately there will always be the self righteous who have to blow it out of proportion to inflate their ridiculous egos. Who cares if you have studied the crap out of beer and its origins and your opinion is that one particular beer is “best”? I like what I like and I’m not going to jam that down someone else’s throat and belittle them when they don’t enjoy it like I did!? That’s crazy. I’m so tired of the pretentious few who ruin a simple past time I have enjoyed for a long, long time. I too, at one point thought Keith’s was the only IPA in existence. But I was born in NS and raised on that bottle. Since dating Jayson, who discovered craft beer 7 years ago when he lived in Victoria, I’ve tried so many new beers and have a serious love of the IPA’s! Give me hops, lots and lots of hops!! I am a hophead. I was thrilled to try the Porter, and the lager you guys brewed. The Wipa was unique but not something I could get my palate around. Unfortunately I felt the need to keep my options to myself for fear of critique from the crowd which I didn’t have the energy to defend. Can it not just be as simple as “I didn’t like it?” I think that it should be. It is impossible to please everyone, impossible, but why worry about that? I think you present a vast array of flavours for all and you have painstakingly brewed those beers with hard work, care and the determination to put out the best brew possible. Your passion for beer is infectious. Jayson was so impressed by the beer and your talk, it has inspired him to pursue brewing further. Which means, I think a bigger micro brewery in our small apartment somewhere I think..Or a collaboration with Craig to make another mini Mashtung (sp) for our apartment! Anyway, thank you for everything you have brought to the industry. I look forward to our next visit to Last Best. I think next time I will sit around the fire in my shorts and flip flops and enjoy my IPA the way I think it should be enjoyed. If you could pipe in some sand and ocean sounds that would be perfect!! Kidding…Take care and keep up the incredible brewing and culinary masterpieces!!

    Carla Bower
    Banff Beer Lover:)

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