The other day I was perusing Twitter, as I do(a lot), and I came across this tweet from the Beer Scribe (@beerscribe) :
It hit me that I do this unintentionally almost daily and I wanted to explore why. I see so many people who never leave their comfort zone of IPAs, sours or whatever it is they love. They eschew any other style as boring or not for them while what Jordan St. John (@saints_gambit) described as hop creep begins to take hold.
Clearly after a month of discount lagers, your taste buds would be more susceptible to intense hop flavours, but what If the opposite is true as well? What if drinking nothing but IPAs, sours or any other style exclusively led to some sort of flavour diminishment or fatigue?
As a general rule, most people don't keep going to the well once they have decided they don't like a particular style and that's a damn shame if you ask me. To get stuck in a rut of one or two beer styles seems to me to defeat the true reason we all got into craft beer in the first place, the hatred of homogenous pint after pint. Whether it was an IPA, saison or bitter, I had to learn to appreciate the nuances, flavour profiles and textures that come with each one. Variations on the styles led me down a path of real exploration as the only limit seemed to be the creativity of the brewers who express their art in liquid form. Not everything I've had has been perfect or sometimes even workable, but onward we go in search of the next beer to enjoy.
It is very easy, however, to get caught up in what you love. I think this happens more with people who subscribe to brand loyalty, even if they won't admit it, when it comes to macro lagers. It used to be you were a Blue or Canadian drinker and that still exists today, albeit in a more diverse way but still with the same downward spiralling results. As a beer drinker, you owe loyalty to nothing but a well made product and an enjoyable experience. Getting caught up in a particular brewery or style of beer makes the whole thing a little reminiscent of our not so distant past and that's a place I for one have no desire to return to.
Now this is not to say that just because a beer comes from craft brewery that it is automatically the best thing in the world. Indeed, we all have had some beers that completely miss the mark in every way and it's important to be honest about what you are tasting if you choose to share your thoughts with the wider beer world. To not tell the truth because you don't want to rock the boat or you're afraid of some kind of blowback is no reason to pad out a beer that isn't on point. There is no need to be an asshole about not liking something, but it gets tiresome reading that every single beer some people try is awesome, it's just not possible. Want to be taken seriously? Tell the truth. Always and in a way that is productive and open to discussion.
To return to the initial point of where this was headed, I will refer simply to my own approach to how I drink and share my beer. I look to be as diverse in style as I am in brewery. I want to know about as many different variations on classic and new flavours and I want to experience as many different brewers ideas on those that I can get my hands on. Having visited 135 Ontario Craft breweries in person and having tried a beer from at least 500 different brewers worldwide, my pursuit is wide ranging and never ending. I love big hoppy IPAs, dank and juicy as well as the malty west coast hop bombs. I am a fan of saisons and farmhouse ales, so many directions to go with those that I am surprised almost monthly by what I find. Sours are still relatively new to me and I embrace the opportunity to explore them further. This is to say nothing of the other 20 plus recognized styles and their many, many sub-styles we have access to at any given moment. The only limitation remains the imagination of those who brew and those who drink.
To find yourself in a never ending loop of one style can only be broken by a conscious effort to diversify what's in your fridge. There's nothing wrong with having a whole whack of your favourite style but try to include something different whenever you are going to enjoy more than one. I usually have the newest beer or the style I am working to understand the most first and then will happily go to whatever suites my fancy next. Sometimes it's Ransack the Universe or Canuck Pale Ale but I always look to find a new beer or brewer to spice up my life.
Break out of your hop lock, saison straightaway or porter porthole, make the next beer you try something different and let the world into your glass.