A brief anecdote on how not everyone is ready for the craft beer revolution
I was out on Friday with some friends, some reasonably new acquaintances. Towards the end of the evening I ordered a bottle of Brewdog’s Punk IPA. Hardly the most exotic beer in the world, but I’d had enough generic lager / bog-standard bitter for one night.
My companions had never seen this drink. They were intrigued. They all had a sip.
“I don’t like that.”
I thought it was pretty good, and had always thought Punk IPA was a pretty approachable entry-point to craft beer. It is not a challenging beer. Or so I thought.
But there you go. Some palates, for better or worse, aren’t ready for craft beer. Even the stuff you can now find in your supermarket.
And this isn’t a beer-snobby anecdote. It just made me realise that for all the growth in popularity of craft beer, there is still a long, long way to go before it is properly considered mainstream booze. All the more for me to drink, I guess.
Funny, isn’t it? I’m no craft fanatic (just you wait until my 10,000 word blog post on why craft brewers should think less about hops and more about mastering the taste of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord!), but I find myself drinking more and more of it as it becomes more readily available in pubs (undoubtedly A Good Thing). And when I have to revert to basic lagers like Becks (hello Barbican centre, I expected better of you) I find they have a really unpleasant taste that I can’t quite put my finger on, a bit like they’ve been made from lager cordial. I used to drink that sort of stuff all the time, so my palate must have changed over time; odd that it’s hard to go back, though.
I do love a hoppy beer, but I think they are often used to hide a multitude of sins. There are few pints better than a well-kept pint of Landlord, and I do wish these newer breweries would spend less time on hoppy stuff and more time exploring how to make more traditional styles forward.
I love the Barbican, but their bars are a huge disappointment – a real missed opportunity. I suspect it may be down to their catering being outsourced, and the contractor going for safer/easier options.
Wheat beers. That’s where I think people who are interested in learning about craft beers should start. It’s a jump from a lager, thicker and more flavorful, but not so big that it’s going to confuse their palate. Once they’ve figured that out, they can move on to the pale ale spectrum, slowly building up their tolerance to hops.
I don’t drink now, but I never could wrap my head around stouts. I had one before my taste buds were ready, and I couldn’t drink one again without thinking it tasted like soy sauce.
Good point. I think the first unusual beer I tried was a wheat beer. They are generally pretty approachable, although I can’t drink much of it.
I love a good stout, but I appreciate it is an acquired taste. I remember taking the best part of an evening to drink my first pint of stout as a teenager. It was hard work!
Do you ever drink non-alcoholic beer? I’ve found one or two that are decent, for when I fancy the refreshment but not the intoxication.
I had a non-alcoholic beer years and years ago, back when I still drank. I wanted to see how it compared to a full strength beer. They get sort of a bad rap in the US, but this one was much more fuller-flavored than people gave it credit for. I haven’t had one since, though. Usually I’m good with water or tea.