Saturday, July 21, 2007

An accounting for taste.

Matt has a great post up on his history with beer. It's chock full of beer lore and some interesting musings on the fact that beer seems to be such an acquired taste. I know it was for me.

I had one or two adolescent encounters (and I say "adolescent" from my current viewpoint; I would have bristled at the term when I was 19...) that resulted in the expected bout of yelling at my shoes. As a result, I couldn't stand the stuff for years. I think the necessary sea change came when I was living with my ex. We were both inveterate computer gamers, and he was a serious coffee drinker. Add the two together, and between the two of us several pots of coffee could vanish in the course of a Friday or Saturday, my share of which was drunk black.

"Bitter" is not a taste sensation the young normally seek out, but several zillion cups of black coffee will make you a connoisseur of bitter. Good coffee bitter. Bad coffee bitter. This-coffee-is-burned bitter... A year later, after a sweltering summer day working at the gun shop, which was in a tin-roofed building with two glass walls and no A/C, my boss offered me a beer after we'd shut down. I seem to recall it was a Miller Genuine Draft in a bottle. I remember it was very cold, and very wet, and boy did it hit the spot. And hey, it didn't even taste bad!

Still, it remained a hot weather beverage for me. Nothing I'd seek out for the taste, specifically, mind you. It was another couple years until a friend introduced me to Whitbread Ale on draft at a local pub. This was actually tasty; something you'd drink just for the pleasure of drinking it, not just to cool off on a hot day. From there, it was a just a short hop to Bass and Sweetwater 420 IPA, Mendocino White Hawk and Stone Ruination, IPA's and Barleywines.

Anyhow, Matt, that's how it happened for me.


Anonymous said...

I used to drink a lot of beer, almost none now...and since I was exposed to German beer, I frankly just can't stand to drink most US mass consumption-type beers. I'd rather drink water than Bud, Coors, Miller...ugh.

Tam said...

"I frankly just can't stand to drink most US mass consumption-type beers."

Neither can I.

Ironically, I find most German beers to be a mite thin for my tastes, too, since I prefer ales, porters, and stouts, not pilsners or lagers.

Matt G said...

I like only German biers.

And British beers. (That Whitbread is a fine example of the good British ale yeast strains.)

And Scottish ales.

And Irish stouts.

And Belgian beers.

And Dutch, Japanese, and German-by-way-of-Mexico beers.

And hand-crafted microbrewery American beers.

And, on a hot day with good barbecue and friends, an iced cold American lager, even if it's from one of the monster brewing companies.

Heh. And I ONLY drink among friends. Or when I'm alone.

I went with my wife and kids to join a bunch of friends at a very nice small town tree-lighting ceremony on the square a couple of years ago. The temperature was 19 degrees F, and there was a bit of a dry wind. Still, the square was packed, mostly by virtue of the simply excellent rock-and-roll band Brave Combo playing for free. People were dancing, having a good time. A pizza parlor, newly opened on the 100 year old square, offered a superb deal that lots of people were taking advantage of: Large pepperoni pizzas for $6, and cold unopened cans of Old Milwaukee beer for $1, tax included.

We came in, shaking off the sweat of dancing and the cold on our ears, and bought a couple of pizzas, and drank a couple of cans of that "crap beer" each. It was the best dinner I'd had in a month, and beer honestly never tasted any better.

Hunger and good friends and setting can go a LONG way toward making any beer taste better.

"And I wished I had some money with
which to buy a round

I wished I'd cashed my paycheck
Before I came to town
But I reached into my pocket
Found three twenties and a ten
It feels so good feelin' good again

There was old man Perkins
Sittin' on his stool
Watchin' Butch and Jimmy John
Talkin' loud and playin' pool
The boys from Silver City
Were standin' by the fire
Singin' like they thought
they were the Tabernacle choir
And I wanted you to see them all
I wished that you were there
I looked across the room
and saw you standin' on the stair
And when I caught your eye
I saw you break into a grin
It feels so good feelin' good again"

Excerpt from "Feelin' Good Again", Robert Earl Keen, Jr.

Don said...

I don't really like beer, truth be told. I have maybe one or two per year.

I do like Guinness when I'm having a beer, and I can enjoy Shiner Bock (trite, but I got caught up in the TFL Shiner Movement.)

Anonymous said...

Well, it ain't Robert Earl Keen, but...

When I was seventeen,
I drank some very good beer,
I drank some very good beer I purchased with a fake ID,
My name was Brian McGee,
I stayed up listening to Queen,
When I was seventeen.

....Homer has had his moments.

BobG said...

From Cheers:

[Woody] Hey Mr. Petersen, want a beer?
[Norm] Isn't it a little early, Woody?
[Woody] For a beer?
[Norm] No, for stupid questions. Give me a beer, Woody.

CM said...

I've never been able to stand beer myself. I can usually make through one glass, but have to choke down the rest. It seems my body has an aversion to anything "not-liquor".

I guess I better start getting used to beer since I'm planning on doing some microbrewing.