aka “Smells Like Beer, Tastes Like Beer.”
Super Sunday came and the guys from The Keg Tap assembled at Irv’s place. He and his wife Janelle were treating us to a plethora of tasty goodness, as they both love to cook and seem pretty darn good at it. The ribs alone were fall-off-the-bone delicious. But let’s not forget the obvious, we also had plenty of good beer on hand. After all, this is The Big Game, and it’s probably the single biggest day beer gets to celebrate outside of St. Patrick’s Day. Oh yeah, and half the crowd were Giants fans.
There were a few other friends who also came over. I had never met them, but they seemed to be decent cats. They certainly seemed to enjoy the same things we did – beer and football. The true test would be to see how they fared when we started popping open the bottles we had amassed, because these were not the types of beer you would normally find in your typical sports bar. To that point, I guess I should mention what was on the menu for us:
Allagash Curiex Oak-aged Ale – 11% ABV
Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout – 5.7% ABV
Avery The Reverend Quadrupel – 10% ABV
Cigar City Bolita Double Brown Ale – 9% ABV
Dogfish Head Burton Baton Oak-aged Imperial IPA – 10% ABV
Firestone Walker Porter Oak-aged Porter – 5.8% ABV
Gouden Carolus Triple Belgian Tripel – 9% ABV
North Coast Brother Theolonius Belgian-style Abbey Ale – 9.4% ABV
Otter Creek Russian Imperial Stout – 10.6% ABV
Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout – 6.1% ABV
Yard’s Olde Bartholomew Barley Wine – 10.3% ABV
The funny thing about this particular Sunday was that not only were we all primed to watch the big game, eat some great food provided by Irv and his wife and enjoy the festivities of the big day; but also to enjoy these new flavors and give our thoughts and opinions on them, as is customary anytime we drink together. But we had the outside element there as well – a fresh crop of uninitiated beer drinkers (in our little circle at least) who probably live on mass market flavored-water and have no clue about craft brewing. Time to lure them to dark side. Of beer, that is.
Being a seasoned drinker/beer aficionado, it’s easy to spot a first-timer. We poured the Gouden Carolus, which was light and refreshing. As I stuck my nose in the glass to try and soak in the aromas of the beer I was about to drink, I said “smells like banana and citrus” while thinking out loud. One of the as yet unenlightened guests retorted with “smells like beer.” Next came tasting time. I took a pull, swishing the beer around in my mouth, letting it coat my palate before escaping down my throat. “Tastes like banana” were the first words out of my mouth. This is something I got to hear repeated back to me throughout the course of the game, in mocking fashion. That’s ok, an uneducated palate can say what it wants, but still gets left out in the cold when dealing with experienced drinkers. One of the other guys there says “mine tastes like beer.” What a rookie.
Now that we’ve gotten through this round, let’s try a different flavor and see if they notice the difference. “Mine still tastes like beer” was the immediate response. You poor soul. Irv, Jason and I looked at each other with that understanding gaze of affirmation that we knew what we were imbibing, but these other chaps were sadly lacking in the flavor-detecting department. For instance, on another beer one of the guys is simply tasting “beer” while I am getting the aroma and flavor of chocolate, toffee, caramel and roasted nuts. Big difference right? What a rookie.
As the game winded down and we had the last-second Hail Mary thrown into the end zone, everyone in attendance was rife with tension. Once that ball hit the ground and the Giants had officially won the game, I felt a spray of liquid hit me. I looked over to see Irv with a bottle in his hands, as if he were already in the locker room celebrating the victory. But this was not champagne he had, but a bottle of Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout, much of which I and the couch were now wearing. It seems the bottle had found its way to the floor and was opened by Irv shortly thereafter, yet pointed in my general direction; hence the spray. All good, I thought to myself as I licked my arms clean. The Giants just won it all on a bang-bang play in the final seconds of the game and made the majority of the room ecstatic. A reason to celebrate, no doubt.
The morale of the story here kids, is that rather than simply being a sheep and going with the herd, give yourself the opportunity to try new things, explore new boundaries, savor new tastes. In other words, all beer is not equal. That’s the premise of this site, right? Our mission is to find all these different flavors and present them to you, so that you can explore your own likes and dislikes and be well-educated the next time you decide to spring for a pint or a six pack. So maybe the next time you’re with friends and you hear one of them say “What is this crap? This doesn’t taste like beer” you can simply chuckle and think to yourself – “what a rookie.”