The sad refrains of ten thousand “lost love” songs ringing in my ears could not match the sadness I feel when I hear uttered the kindred language of Mordor speaking that ever so vile and unsubstantiated phrase, “I really don’t like beer.” What the phrase has done to my life-span and psyche tongue cannot tell. However, there is a fortunate and unalterable truth to which I am privy that reassures the knee-jerk crumbling of my soul when I hear that phrase of such affected myopia: it is not true (well, the great majority of the time).
It happened again last night. A coworker of mine mentioned to a consultant working with us that I brewed beer. Her response sent me recoiling (on the inside) in horror. I cannot bear to repeat those words again, and certainly not a third time, due to the fear of accidentally summoning a Burtonesque Beetlejuice-like character. When I recovered from the sheer shock, I offered a potent rebuttal. My normal response is first to state, in no uncertain terms, that the person in question actually likes beer but just happens not to know it yet. The second tier of this robust response is to ask the following question: “What beers have you had?”
Almost without variation the answer to the question is neatly nestled in the barren lands of the big five (or however many they are lately; one can never tell how many there are these days…conglomeration is so confusing). Once prodded, their tongues are loosened and the mystery is typically unravelled. Sometimes I ask what sorts of flavors the person likes, talk some more, and beseech them by all that is true and holy to give it another go or two. Sometimes these persons just keep going and dig a little deeper to say that they once had a Newcastle or other beer and thought it was okay. Well, that is something one can work with.
Please do not misconstrue what I am saying. There are actually those people existing in the world whose unfortunate genetic predisposition punishes them with the predilection of casting an unfriendly eye toward this nectar of the gods. And that spell, my friend, is not easily cast aside. Yet, I have seen even that mystical hold broken by the logic of good beer. Why am I casting suspicion and doubt on my fellow citizens and countrymen (and countrywomen)? It is because they drink wine.
Before you see red (or white), allow me to explain. I think wine is terrific. I truly love a bold, dry, oak tannin filled red. There are times when an Asti is almost divine… but let’s not get carried away (after all it is not beer, which is why I said “almost”). Anyway, this is where my theory may seem less tenable but let us suppose that those who can drink ripe, tart, sometimes sour, sometime cloying sweet, even mildly “offense” wine could reasonably tolerate various styles of beer. Let us suppose that it really is not a matter of taste. Instead, let us assume it is simply a matter of exposure. This opens up a new world entirely.
I have seen, on several occasions, not the single batting of an eye over a $15 bottle of Reisling. Of course this is seen as reasonable and acceptable. Take that same person and ask them to spend $9 on a 750 ml bottle of beer that is of the same or greater strength and they will bat both eyes and help you to the nearest mental facility. What is wrong with this picture?
If you have not guessed already I am attempting to build a case that perception is key when it comes to this issue. For the record (and according to past iterations of this discussion we have posted), I think French Gastronomy has a massive and unrecognized link to wine’s pedigree while snubbing “little brother beer”. Beer has its work cut out for it because it is fundamentally viewed and associated as unrefined among many people. So why keep trying it?
But wine has the distinct advantage of “I’m going to like it, come hell or high water”. I know several people who have weaved wine narratives that goe along the lines of: 1. Did not start out liking it. 2. Found one or two they liked. 3. Came to appreciate other wines. 4. Started genuinely enjoying various styles. 5. Loves a good wine no matter what style.
Perhaps the point, if I can be viewed as having made a cogent argument or even a point at all, emerges. Why not give beer another chance? I know you do not like it, I know you can find one or two you might like, I know you will even come to appreciate some beers you might have not formally liked, perhaps you can start enjoying various styles, and maybe you will come to appreciate a good beer no matter the style. Please do not write off a whole category based on a few bad apples.