Beer tasting isn't bullshit. Here's why in two parts.
Part I: Distinguishing Tastes
When I was a little girl, and I asked my father, "What does beer taste like?" he answered, "It tastes like horse piss." I could see the color of it and when I snuck a smell of the bottle, it seemed a fair assesment, though it didn't explain why my father drank it so much.
Years later I've followed in my father's footsteps and flounder when trying to describe the taste of beer. If I withhold my knowledge of animal urine, the range of adjectives I'm left with is very limited. Which is why I was delighted to read "Wine tasting is bullshit. Here's why."
"The human palate is arguably the weakest of the five traditional senses. This begs an important question regarding wine tasting: is it bullshit, or is it complete and utter bullshit?"
So called experts are ranking wines in fallacious ways, and ultimately advising everyone on what is "good" and what is not. The same must be true for beer! (I thought.) I awaited an expert to confirm this and almost immediately there was a(n attempt at a) confirmation from Erin Steen at Focus on Beer. In his in depth article he concluded:
"I don't reach any conclusions, I just talk a lot, and I also don't really care about answering that question. "
Thanks Eric! Buuuuut, I still care about answering the question. Is craft beer tasting exclusive? Do you need a super hero-like palate to truly enjoy and remark on craft beer or can anyone taste the rainbow?
The answers: NO. No, and yes!
CRAFT BEER IS EVERYMAN. It's all inclusive. You only need look at the top beer review sites, beeradvocate and rate beer to know this. Bryan Roth sums it up.
"Ultimately, the beer review is an attempt to open things up for people. It’s about demystifying the idea that craft beer is fancy and you have to know something about it to really expand your palate and try all sorts of brews. Even more important – you don’t have to know a damned thing about craft beer to enjoy it. - This is Why I'm Drunk"
Oliver Gray adds:
"Don’t be so caught up in what people expect from a review. If you want to write about the hop characteristics because that’s just your thing, go for it. If you want to write about a memory that this beer brought surging back to the front of your brain, by all means. If you’re like me, and you want to write a story based on the taste and appearance of the beer, don’t let anyone stop you. - Literature and Libation"
I can cull up a memory on a dime after one sip of a beer, but what if I also would like to discuss hop characteristics. How do I... how does that... what do hops taste like?
For hops AND memories, join me next week for Part II: Tasting what you taste when you taste a tasty beer.