Once upon a time, beer provided me with my first alcoholic beverage experience and, in my youth, I might have been a bit more concerned with the effects of my drink than I was with the whole flavour experience.Fortunately, long gone are the days of keg parties and crushing cases of crappy mass produced lagers but I’m still quite happy to proclaim my continued appreciation for beer… I am Canadian, after all!
I don’t quite remember when my tastes started gearing more towards the richer, fuller flavours of of craft brewed beer. And I forget whether this shift in preference preceded or followed after discovering a love for whisky, although they seemed to have developed hand-in-hand.
I will always enjoy beer as an assuming and unpretentious beverage, as easy to enjoy directly from the bottle at a backyard BBQ as it is from a fancy Bavarian stein. (Much easier, actually!) But, what I’ve come to realize is that many of the characteristics I appreciate in whiskies are also there to be appreciated in beer. I thought it would be fun to sing the praises of my second favourite drink using the category headings normally saved for my whisky reviews:
To the Eye
Beer can look absolutely gorgeous in a glass. From the inviting rocky white crown adorning a sparkling, golden Saaz Republic Pils from Big Rock Brewery to the juxtaposition of a thick, creamy tan head topping an oily Alberta Crude Oatmeal Stout from Wildrose Brewery, few drinks can be as seductive looking as a quality brew.
In the Nose
Subtle compared to most whiskies, beer is still capable of offering an aromatic experience. Consider the banana, clove and coriander breezes above a Mill St. Wit from Mill Street Brewing Co. or the roasted-malt and fresh cut grass whiff that greets you in a glass of Twice As Mad Tom IPA from Muskoka Brewery. If you can’t enjoy sniffing your beer, your drinking the wrong stuff!
On the Tongue
Are you kidding me? Ok, if you stick to the mainstream, mass-produced beers that dominate the television ads, I guess I can see why you think beer lacks all-important flavour. But might I suggest a full on hop-assault in a Full Nelson IPA from Nelson Brewing Company or, perhaps, the sweet, malty excellence to be found in a rum-cask finished Innis and Gunn Scottish ale? Honestly, with so much variety in hops, malts, adjunct grains, yeast strains, abv and water sources, beer is capable of incredible variety in style and flavour profiles.
I’m a whisky guy, no question about it. But beer’s still good too! I think anyone who claims otherwise must be allergic or lying! There are too many options and choices to make a blanket-statement claim like that. And fellow drammers need to consider that whisky, especially scotch, is basically distilled beer… think about it!
Few beverages can be as refreshing during a hot day at the lake and still serve as the perfect a compliment to a good steak dinner. If you don’t “like” beer, don’t be afraid to keep trying them – there are so many breweries, there will be one out there for you somewhere. And if you can’t find a distillery who makes what you like, it’s not all that tough to make your own