It’s time to put the “beer” in “beermaiden.”
It didn’t even occur to me until right this second that I probably should have written this post for Brewfest, but that’s because very little occurs to me around Brewfest time that isn’t NEDE MOAR RAM RACING.
There is a thing going on right now in my awesome guild full of awesome people where they troll me absolutely mercilessly about beer, and specifically my love thereof. It’s to the point where new applicants come in and they answer their “Tell us about yourself” question with some mention about Bud Light Lime or whatever and there’s a race to see who can make the “in b4 Aro’s crying emoface” post first. A secret: I kind of love it. I love also that my guild note was at some point changed to read “Beermaiden,” and I would like to buy a beer for whichever officer was responsible because it made my shriveled black heart grow three whole sizes.
This merciless trolling comes in basically only one flavor, which is LOL KICKIN’ BACK A COORS YAY BEER LOLOLOL. Seriously just tell the Grey Poupon guy that you’ve got some French’s in the back and certainly that’ll do, right? A hint: THE FLAVOR METAPHOR WILL BE IMPORTANT LATER.
Then there are the Teachable Moments that a know-it-all jackwagon such as your humble hostess lives for, which is the primary impetus for what I am sure will be a thousand-word screed on fermented beverages: “I don’t like the taste of beer.”
Dear European friends: you totally don’t have to read the rest of this post, because you probably already know where I am going with this. This is for my American and Canadian friends who do not know the wonders of a brewery that has never in its life worked with an aluminum can.
I blame the marketing machines behind American lager companies for this, because apparently it is some incredible esoteric enigma of mysterious mystery that there is no such thing as “the taste of beer.” It would mean exactly the same thing to say that you don’t like the taste of food. “Nonsense,” I hear you non-beernerds thinking. “I know exactly what beer tastes like, and it’s gross!” Now come unto me, my fellow North American children, while I avail ye of the truth: a corporation in the business of making money does not want you to know that competitors exist, and the big American lager breweries make so much money that it is in their best interests that their marketing departments make you believe that there is only one kind of beer, and the only differences between different kinds of beer are whether their commercials contain bikini models, giant horses, yodeling frogs, or all of the above.
Here is the thing: the beer that you don’t like the taste of? That’s not all beer. It’s not even representative of most beer. Budweiser, Bud Light, Coors, Miller, all those that you know and hate — that is one specific style of beer: North American-style pale lager. A lager is a cold-stored, slow-fermented beer characterized by dry, hoppy bitterness; the North American varieties tend to add corn or rice (sometimes both) to lighten it up (because that encourages consumers to drink more). Using corn and rice, traditionally very cheap in the US, instead of more expensive grains like barley, also increases their profit margins.
Shitty American beer: it’s just business.
This is not to say that “all beer made in the US is garbage,” because it’s not true; it’s not true because not all beer made in the US (or Canada) is a mass-produced North American pale lager. It’s not even true that all beer produced by the big US breweries is garbage, because Blue Moon, a witbier that almost singlehandedly revived the style and one of which I am personally quite fond, is brewed by MillerCoors and is quite respectable. Some of my favorite beers come from US breweries: Lazy Magnolia, Magic Hat, Stone, Ghost River, and Dogfish Head all have a great deal of deliciousness to offer, even though Dogfish Head and I are currently not speaking due to their decision to stop shipping to my state, those selfish assholes.
Beer is the world’s drink, brewed in every continent (except perhaps Antarctica, because holy god would that be a cold fermentation; I wouldn’t put it past some scientist to have a homebrew closet, though) out of its own local ingredients with its own unique styles, and to rule it all out or (more heartbreakingly because this is my blog and it is all about me) deride its enjoyment because you associate the noun “beer” with that Budweiser garbage is denying yourself what could be a truly awesome experience.
So, for those of you who think you don’t like the taste of beer, here’s a
little lot about Beer Styles. Look how many there are. The beer that you know and hate is just one interior section of one of those numbers. See what you’re missing out on? ISN’T IT AMAZING? It’s amazing.
Since we’ve established that you don’t care for pale lagers (though on a particularly hot day I’d still suggest you give a German or Bavarian version a try, like the original Pilsner Urquell or Spaten), the secret to finding a beer you’ll love is employing the same tactics you’d use to find any other kind of food you’d love: try everything. Figure out what characteristics you enjoy and keep narrowing it down until you come up with the perfect beer.
My go-to brew for someone who doesn’t like beer is Lindemans Framboise, a raspberry lambic. If you don’t like raspberries (god what a sad and lonely life you must lead if this is so), Lindemans also provides apple, peach, pear, and cherry versions; the Framboise is probably the only one you’ll find on tap, though, if you’re in a fancypants bar that has more than just American lagers on tap. It’s served in a champagne flute because one of its key characteristics is its effervescence; this is one seriously carbonated drink, and it’s best to drink it before it goes flat. It tastes like bottled joy, and I keep a bottle in my beerfridge for those terrible days when I want to stab people in the face over the internet. It’s totally worth it.
If you are unwilling to order a bright pink beer in a public place, YOU COWARD, then there are still other styles that may suit you! If you like clean, crisp tastes, like white wine, try an ale; Magic Hat’s #9 is my very favorite, but there are tons of other delicious varieties, from the heavy-duty hops of IPAs (to me, a good IPA tastes like fresh-mown grass smells; they’re like springtime in a glass) to the nose-punchy high alcohol content of a Belgian abbey ale, like Chimay. Brown ales are usually maltier and more subtle in their hops than their paler brethren, and my favorite is Lazy Magnolia’s Southern Pecan, which is just what it says on the tin. There are red ales (try Ghost River Copperhead Red) and blonde ales and cream ales and fruit ales, and every one is brewed differently, with different ingredients.
Stouts and porters have more malt and frequently fewer hops; my BFF, a beer-hater for life, was converted once she was introduced to Dogfish Head’s World Wide Stout. You can find chocolate and vanilla flavors in stouts, like Young’s Double Chocolate Stout (which makes an awesome ice cream float); oatmeal stouts, with their addition of oats to the grain mash, are incredibly smooth and sweet; try Schlafly’s Coffee Stout, from St. Louis.
Beervangelism is my hobby; very little makes me happier than managing to provide someone with a list of possibilities like some savant sommelier (beermelier?) and having them come back and tell me how awesome it was. If you can tell me what you like to eat, I can tell you what you’d like to drink, and you will never have to tell someone that you don’t like the taste of beer ever again. ♥