Hello, Beer

March 4, 2011

Think of someone you love.

It can be a parent, or a sibling, or a significant other, but think about them. I bet you can picture their faces, their eyes. The little imperfections that make them “them.” You can probably hear that funny way they laugh, or their high-pitched sneeze. The way they only move their right hand when they tell stories. That college newspaper shirt they like to wear to bed.

Now, think of something you love. It could be a sport, or a hobby, or an activity, or a place. Tennis. Photography. Hiking. An art museum. When you think about this thing, what do you see? Personally, I love baseball. I can recall past games I’ve played in or watched, the smell of the peanuts and hot dogs at the park, the anticipation of a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. All of these things, and millions more, come easily and readily to mind.

I bring this up because the problem is this – I love beer, but I don’t really know beer.

Sure, I’m familiar with beer. I know the breweries and their geeky brews, and I know the various styles and why they’re that way. I’ve even begun homebrewing lately, which has helped me understand how beer is made and how that process imparts its own personality upon the beer.

But that’s still not enough.

I smoked off and on for the better part of twelve years, from when I was 18 to my 30th birthday. While I never smoked more than half a pack a day during that span, I feel that smoking negatively impacted my sense of smell and, subsequently, my palate.

I can make out the obvious things. I get big citrusy, flowery, or grassy hops in IPAs. I sniff out roasted notes in porters or stouts, or banana esters in hefeweizens. These are the big-picture ideas that jump from the glass to my nose to my brain to, possibly and rarely, my fingertips.

However, the devil is in the details, and it’s these details – the warts in the wort, you could say – where I am the most clueless.

I cannot fathom how to pick out malt profiles, or yeasty combinations. Subtle spices? Tough to pin down. While I usually just drink whatever is in the fridge with whatever I happened to make for dinner that night, the nuanced art of pairing beer – the most diverse, versatile beverage on the planet – with foods is something I’m more than eager to learn.

Which is why, this Monday and the next, I’ll be attending Sam Merritt’s Civilization of Beer Cicerone certification program. BeerGoggins and I were invited to join after appearing with Sam on Beer Sessions Radio a few weeks ago, and we couldn’t be more excited to learn lots of new and wonderful things.

Hello, beer. My name is Adam. Let’s get to know one another.

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One Response to Hello, Beer

  1. March 9, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Hey great post Adam. It’s a great pleasure having you and Clare in class. Your passion and respect for people and beer is a great inspiration. Cheers and best!!

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