The Goat Rodeo

Life, Beers & Brewing in a secluded (and slightly off kilter) nook in Northern California

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Beer Mentality

If I hurry I can post this by end of January (thus keeping my new New Year's resolution to blog at least once a month) - that is if I hurry. But I am not really one for rushing things. Maybe it is having grown up in Hawaii, or maybe it is living in NorCal for so long (or maybe not), but even when I lived in a city of five million I tried to take a more laid back view of things and to have a more relaxed approach.

I was reading a piece about rare beers the other day. You know the ones - those beers that people make only a small batch of - once a year, or maybe they only made two barrels of it - ever, or it’s the one that the monks only bottle on the third Thursday of each month, or possibly it was made with the fruit from a single tree, but that tree is gone because it got struck by lightning - "so, like we can never make that beer again.” You know - those beers.

Now I like a top of the line product as much as the next person, and I am all for experimental and one off beers, but if you only make eleven bottles or some such nonsense – what the point. It is a bit like dining on Ortolan* or tiger’s penis. Why would I want to spend money or stand in line to partake in something I would normally eschew at all costs ? Rarity does not equate to quality or even make something interesting.

And (yeah, I know you should never start a sentence with a conjunction, much less a whole paragraph) although I love Pliny the Younger (as well as Pliny the Elder), for the most part I have to concurred with this guys main point. Which is basically don't believe the hype**. Any beer you have to queue for more than 5 minutes for - it ain't worth it. It’s just another beer.

I know that it may be upsetting for some people to hear a brewer (someone who – literally – spends his days thinking of ways to make better beers) say that - but to be honest, for me it is less about the beer and more about the surroundings and the people I am with. And I think that is my point here. For me, drinking (and especially drinking beer) is very much about context. It is the main reason I rarely drink alone. I would rather have a PBR in some dive with my friends, than have a $1000.00 bottle of the world’s strongest beer (poured from the carcass of English road kill - really ?!?!) or a glass of '89 Haut-Brion - by myself. To my way of thinking it is the community that beer brings about that is special, the joy of shared experiences. It’s why I love a beer hall, a BBQ or a good bar.

These rare beers (and they may be great beers) – they are not about sharing, they are not about communal enjoyment – they are about what one person got a chance to have and other people did not, they are about exclusivity. These are not traits I hold in high esteem in the real world and they are not what I am looking for in my beer world. So of course I would prefer it be great beer that we were all drinking together – but if it’s not great beer – well, that is ok by me – as long as I am having beers with friends.


** Musical interlude (although I am more of an NWA kinda guy) -

***like the strongest beer in the world would taste good anyway ?!? The last several times I had the “strongest beer in the world” (and it was not nearly as strong as the road kill beer) it tasted more like a maple syrup aged in oak than it did like a beer – yeeeh. If I want to have something that strong I usually have a shot of George Dickel or (on more expensive outings) of Pappy Van Winkle. If I have a beer, I want it to have some drinkability – with some carbonation and a bit of hops. sorry, I digress from the main.


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