I don’t really like beer.
There. I’ve admitted the awful truth to myself and to the world at large, or least to the IFA audience. No big deal, really. After all, we all have preferences in terms of the food and drink we enjoy, and, as the cliché goes, it takes all kinds. If you forced Ezra to choose two cuisines to eat for the rest of his life, he’d likely pick Sichuan and Italian, per this post. I’d go with French and Indian, with a rider clause for one Tex-Mex meal every five years. Surely Ben Adler would take his beloved New York pizza and bagels to his grave, while Kate and Kriston would choose some variation of the slow-smoked meat that we tend to call “barbecue.”
And, were you to force me to choose one category of alcoholic beverage — beer, wine, or spirits — to enjoy for the rest of my life, I’d choose wine in a heartbeat. Runner-up would be spirits, because as I’ve noted before, I believe in the curative properties of a well-made cocktail. Beer would run a distant third. Extremely distant. As in, I could never drink another beer in my life and I think I would remain a relatively happy soul, all else remaining equal.
The problem is that I don’t really know why I don’t like beer. I’ve consumed a lot of it over the years, certainly. I’ve sampled everything from a keg of High Life Light to the wide variety of microbrews that Oregon has to offer. I’ve toured at least three breweries (or, in the case of the Heineken factory in Amsterdam, a highly-entertaining “brewseum”). I know how beer is made, and I have a vague understanding of the major types of beer, in the same way that most people know that there are different kinds of grapes used in wine. And I do appreciate how it can grease the skids for enjoyable social interactions among large groups in a way that a martini or a glass of Cabernet just can’t.
I’ve just never been able to taste beer the way I like to taste wine; that is to say, explain exactly what flavors and textures I really like and why. And while I’m fully prepared to admit that wine snobs are the worst of the worst, I believe the beer snob population is growing in both size and attitude. I went to the Portland International Beer Festival this past weekend with a group of fairly beer-snobbish friends, and they lobbed the same criticisms at me that I’ve heard from others in the past: “You like IPAs? What’s wrong with you?” “Fruity beer is not real beer.” “Why the hell are you drinking mead?” To which I could only reply, “Uh…because it tastes good?” It’s not that I think beer is gross; I don’t. I just can’t get excited about it. And I’m tired of pretending.
So knowing that a lot of my co-bloggers, as well as many of you, are big beer fans, I’m wondering: is it worth it to become a beer person? Or is it wiser to cut my losses, focus on where I have a slight competitive advantage knowledge-wise (wine), and simply treat beer as one of those things that you drink when everyone around you is too? If you’ve ever had a transcendent moment with beer, I’d like to know about it.