Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Taste Rant

I've noticed over the years something about taste and the people who have "discerning" taste.

For instance, the person that orders and enjoys the varying flavors of differently roasted coffees (without sweetener, milk, or cream), can taste and appreciate a subtle beer or wine flavor. Or how a red wine person can easily appreciate a Belgian-style beer. Taste over effect. These folks tend not to drink to excess, and tend not to be smokers. They savor their food and beverages.

On the flip side of that coin, there are the people who don't seem to have discerning taste at all. They order their coffee as "fluffy-sweet" drinks, only. They order Rum and Coke and other sickenly-sweet drinks. Effect over taste. Folks that think "Turning Leaf" makes a great wine. And drink green-bottle Heineken and think the skunky flavor is something that they should enjoy or "get used to." Or think that Beck's or Corona are "premium beers" because of their premium price. And follow-up a bar session by slamming-down Jaegers.

On the homebrewing side, I'm always amazed by the would-be brewers that want to "clone-brew" a version of Corona or even the insanely-overrated Fat Tire Ale. WTF? I just don't get it. Why get into homebrewing in the first place, if you're just going to try to copy the Shit Beers of the World? Find another, maybe. You could attempt to "clone-cook" the perfect copy of a McDonalds Quarter-Pounder, or clone-bake the perfect version of a f*cking Twinkie. And then wash it all down with a Rum and Coke.


Hunahpu said...

I think that there art two types of homebrewers starting out: There are the drinkers, who simple like to get drunk on mega-swill, and there are the people who drink craft brew. The drinkers start out brewing as a cheaper way to drink. The craft brew drinkers want to clone something that they've had. A lot of it has to do with age and maturity. There drinkers are in or right out of college. The craft brew drinkers are older. Fortunately, as they get into brewing they both lead to the same place. The drinkers get a more discerning and mature pallet and the craft brew drinkers continue on tha path they they are already on. I don't think anybody stays a homebrewer without getting out of mega-swill into different styles of beer.

Ben, aka BadBen said...

We can only hope.

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm on both sides of that - depending on my mood. Come on... sometimes don't you want to GET DRUNK? With whatever's available?

Ben, aka BadBen said...

I'm not usually a big fan of getting drunk, and all that goes along with that. I don't like just drinking for effect, especially when there's NO TASTE involved.

That being said, if I'm in a "controlled situation" (like being at home or on vacation in a cabin or on a beach or beer festival), I relish getting drunk, slowly. But I like to enjoy the taste of what I'm drinking.

(And yes, I have control issues).

DR WORT said...

Bad Ben!

Love this article!

I could write it off as different strokes for different folks, but that would be too easy! ;-}

I think hunapu is pretty much correct.

To add to this, I would say there are a lot of wanna be brewers and home brewers. Some want instant gratification and vindication of craft. Some of these people don't really have interest in brewing, The process or even expanding their palates. Sometimes it's a band wagon venture; Sometimes a drunken excursion; Sometimes an ego booster and the rare few who want to save some cash...

Those who truly immerse themselves into brewing are few and far between.

Same goes with those who write about beer...

See my recent blog entry... ;-}

Anonymous said...

Just discovered your blog and I particularly enjoyed this piece. So true.

And, yes, Fat Tire is indeed "insanely overrated." I finally got to learn that sad fact yesterday as I reviewed it on my blog.

Take care!


Brian Yaeger said...

Hey Bad Ben,

As someone with the surname Yaeger, you have no idea how many times I go to close my tab, with maybe 2-3 craft brews (I don't overindulge) and when they ask for the name and I shout "Yaeger," a shot of Jagermeister appears before me.


Yes, I drink my coffee black and as for beer, I set out on a beer odyssey some time ago. I interviewed brewery owners in every region around the country. Each one comprises a chapter in "Red, White, and Brew: An American Beer Odyssey" (St. Martin's Press) which comes out in a few weeks.

Are you heading to GABF? I'll be signing at all 4 sessions and would love to share a beer (or 20 samples).

Ben, aka BadBen said...

Meister Yeager,

I wish I could be at GABF, but I have a very important family function, that weekend. By the way, I just got back from a road trip to Denver and the mountains of Colorado, last night. I had a few good beers (per day), of course.


Benjamin said...

Hey Ben,

I like your blob and I appreciate your insight. I must contend that there are more than two varieties of beer home brewers.

I for instance, dislike black coffee and always put 1 cream and 1 sugar in it when I have a cup, which is not common to begin with. On the other hand, I enjoy trying different beers and love red wine. I spent a year of my life working at a winery and had to discern between different flavors and notes to be able to discuss the wine with customers. I have deep appreciation for the work and care that goes into wine making as well,a s I've done everything from pick grapes and press must, rack barrels a treat finished tanks. I am thinking seriously about brewing my own beer now because a) I like beer better than wine, and b) I want to make my own beer.

I also like to drink. While some nights I go out to try a pint or two of a new ale I've heard about, other nights I go out and get shit canned on PBR and Jaegar bombs.

Maybe it is just me, but I don't think the two sides of taste are mutually exclusive.

Seanywonton said...

I think you really have to view this from the spectrum of those that have been enlightened, and those that, hopefully, will be enlightened someday and get to go on a sensual journey into new territory...Wow, do I sound like a hippy or what?

Most of us, from birth, have been innundated, or even assaulted with an array of tasteless, mass-produced food. For people that haven't been beyond that, their only real fault may be a lack of adventurousness. These days, if you grew up with a fresh, diverse array of food in front of you, you're lucky!

Smoking....debatable. I think it's a deplorable habit, but I'm lucky that I never got addicted. I can say there are many smokers who appreciate good food or good beer, but their palates are certainly going to be stunted by all those smokes. I don't think there is a clear parallel between smoking and lack of taste (and by taste I mean knowing the difference between the good and the ho-hum).

It's good to rant sometimes, but it's also good to not see this as quite such a black and white thing. Have you ever had a non-light-struck Heineken? It's pretty good. It's not going to change your world or anything, but there is a reason these beers are out there. Fat Tire is subtle and nuanced, much like a good English Brown ale. I don't think it's overrated, it's just very popular.

After all this, I think the point I'd like to drive home is that we have to keep pushing people to try new things. Eventually they are going to have that world-changing beer, or cheese, or whatever and who know s where they will end up in the future. Or not, but you can't win 'em all.

Anonymous said...

haven't had a chance to read alot of your posts, but this type of snobbery is what drives people away from getting into craft brews. Educate through patience and you may start to turn 1 or 2 people towards good beer every so often. But if you just take this over generalized stance that people who like sweet drinks can't possibly enjoy a complex brew, and that people who drink swill can't possibly be turned, then you're just feeding the problem.

Show those swill drinkers some love and attention, and maybe some day when you're brewing commercially they will start drinking your stuff and spreading the word.

Hunington Sachs said...

. . . cloning Twinkies! Exactly. Awesome post.

Micah. said...

Completely agree with the blog entry! Love the sentiment, as much as I hate to be a snob.

Keep you palate clear, and always at the ready!