down the drain.

In my attempts to indulge in all things beer-related, I am the member of several Facebook groups for beer geeks. On one such group this evening there have been a slew of photos that were, let’s say, out of the norm for the group. One was of a Cran-brrrrr-etta with the caption “Just cracked a PVW aged 2013 cran. Anyone else think this years sucks?” Another was of a red dixie cup with ice cubes next to a bottle of Bourbon County. Both of these were hilarious and greeting with some humor, but mostly people calling these folks “trolls.”

Not to be contrary, but posting satire or something with humorous intent is not being a “troll”; it is having fun and being silly. Being a “troll” would be joining the group simply to YELL IN ALL CAPS ABOUT HOW MICROBEER SUX AND UR ALL GAY 4 DRINKIN BEEEEEEER LOLOLOLOOLLOLO. Or trolling by arguing with every person about things you know nothing about, then comparing them to Hitler. Or be a lonely, rather homely fellow who lives under bridges and tortures gnomes. But back to my point.

Beer is fun and should promote a community of enjoyment. Otherwise we wouldn’t have beers like Doggie Style or Bad Santa or Arrogant Bastard or Enormous Richard.

While I take learning about beers very seriously, I don’t take talking about them seriously. What a fucking drag that would be. The world does not need another snobby expert spouting unpalatable information into the world. (See what I did there?) Michael Jackson knew that, which is why every book he wrote, every interview he did was relatable and educational. He was the Carl Sagan of beer: absolutely enraptured by everything wonderful he was experiencing, and beyond delighted to share that with the world. We need more Michael Jacksons. And we definitely don’t need more people who have no clue what they are talking about making judgement calls about other people’s choices.

Those first two Facebook posts are, however, not what I wanted to talk about (who would have guessed?). I wanted to talk about this one:

A photo of someone pouring a Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA down the sink with the caption “Nope. Not for me…”

Holy shitstorm! Amongst the various comments of “troll” (see above for my thoughts on that), there were comments telling the poster they should have contacted the board and someone would have “rescued” the beer, other people bemoaning the fact that they can’t get that beer, others bragging that they sell the beer in every gas station, and then my favorite ilk:

“ur a pussy if u can’t handle a REAL ipa. why do u even fuckin drink beer. go back to ur bud black label.”

TROLL! That THAT is a troll! Troll troll troll-fucking-troll. Ugh.

I can’t tell you how many beers – and beers that are highly regarded – I have dumped down the drain. Some because they were flat-out bad (off flavors, too old, etc), some because they were out of balance and not well made, and others because I just could not drink them (I’m looking at you three different iterations of Arrogant Bastard). There are just some beers that my palate does not agree with. Does that make me less of a beer drinker? Less of a beer geek? Less of a person? FUCK NO! It just means that I didn’t like that beer, and instead of suffering through it, I let it go. Does it suck to do that? Every. Single. Time. But there’s no point in being miserable.

I also take umbrage with the implication that not enjoying a seriously hefty imperial IPA would make you “pussy” or “less of a man.” I, being a woman, can out-drink the majority of men I meet. And I know that I have more beer knowledge than most people – men or women – on the planet. So why does not being able to enjoy a beer make you more feminine? Because we are more discerning and conscious about what we actually like? Because we aren’t willing to shove just any-old beverage down our gullets? Because we refuse to put up with crap? Yeah, I’m sure that’s what it means. I’ll go with that.

And here’s my biggest issue: who is anyone else to say what you should or shouldn’t like? While I work hard to educate people on beer and to get them to go outside of their comfort zone, I never expect them to go from a white wine drinker to loving Cascadian ales (black IPAs) in one swoop. That’s dumb. The palate needs to be educated. It’s the same reason that you can’t give a kid a bell pepper then expect them to love habaneros. I also accept when people give different beers a try and simply don’t like them. That’s fair. Everyone’s palate is different. All I ask is that you give it a try once. If it’s not your gig, then move on. But you never know what you may taste and absolutely love. It’s the same with food: just one bite may separate you from your favorite food. You never know unless you try.

We need to stop belittling or insulting people who don’t like the beers we do. It’s childish and ridiculous. Would you make fun of someone who ordered a meatball sub instead of a sausage sub because you prefer sausage? Of course not, that’s stupid. So is this.

I have so much respect for someone who picks up a beer style they have never tried before and give it a taste. It costs money and can be really unpleasant. And if you’re doing it at a brewery or in front of beer geeky folks, it can take some courage. And it shouldn’t. Trying something new, no matter your reaction to it, should be exciting and triumphant and delightful. And, besides, you can never enhance your palate if you never try new things.

I guess the moral of the story is to never be afraid to try something new or to dump it down the drain if you hate it. Even if you’re going to catch flack for doing so. And also, don’t be a troll. Either variety. Because gnomes have rights, too.

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reviews.

Part of what I do as a certified beer geek is travel to breweries and bars and restaurants and festivals and distilleries and liquor stores and under bridges (troll grog is to DIE for) in search for exemplary beer, food, and people (and of course trolls). Sometimes these forays are extremely successful. Othertimes they leave me sobbing into my beer-shaped pillow I carry with me at all times to soak up my tears (which I then use later to brew beer – it’s a vicious, if tasty, cycle).

One of the intentions of this blog is to record these little adventures and my thoughts about them. As such, I wanted to lay out some rules that I (the writer) intend to follow and for you (the reader) to somewhat understand the terrifying mystery mountain that is my brain.

1. I walk into every experience with the highest of possible expectations. Beer (and food) costs money and calories (I’m a girl, what can I say?) and I have no intention of wasting either on crap. Likewise, visiting breweries takes time and effort. Why would I go out looking for a bad time? I am not a snob who goes in someplace saying to myself (or outloud – I’ve heard it) “I’ve heard this place is horrible! Let’s see how bad they really are.” If I’ve heard a place is crummy, I may give it a bit of a wide berth and some time, but I always hope that I have received bad information – or that something has changed for the better. If a review starts of negative, it’s not because I want it to be bad, it’s because I was left with no other options.

2. My reviews will only be based off of what I, myself, or someone in my party have experienced. To make sure my reviews are well-rounded, I may bring in past experiences – but I will always let you know when it’s a flashback (unlike certain movies. Yeah, I’m looking at you, Memento). I will also make sure that if the opinion is not my own, I say it’s not my own. If the Bearded Brewer likes his piney hop, 7,000,000 IBU googtuple IPA, then I will make sure I say why he liked it. And why he is wrong. And if I’m drinking a beer in a tasting that I adore, and that particular sample sucks bollocks, I’ll be sure to delineate that, too. One thing I hate about beer contests is that they only go off one sample. And if that sample was not kept in great conditions, it can be total crap, even when the beer itself is actually really good. As with my post about Lugene, I don’t feel comfortable giving it a real review until I’ve had it on tap because of the overwhelming evidence that I got two bad bottles. Then again, there are some beers that you can just tell are wrong – not because of storage issues – but because something went off the rails in brewing or packaging. I will totally call that shit out.

3. I never intend my words to be mean, however, I do write with snark and sarcasm. Because I care. And because I amuse myself that way. But mostly because I care. If I don’t particularly like something, I’ll say it, but it’s because I so want it (the subject of the review) to be good and enjoyable. When someone asks me “where can I get a good beer in ______”, I want to have such a crazy-extensive list that I can’t narrow it down to a top 10, let alone a top 5. I want to be able to recommend 3-4 beers at every brewery, 20 different breweries at every fest, 67 different spices in every chalice of grog. I want an abundance of awesomeness, a glut of decadence, an overwhelming wave of delight. If you feel I’ve been unfair to any brewery/bar/restaurant/beer/bartender/town/troll/et cetera, please let me know. Give me reasons I should give them another look or why I got the wrong impression. If you have had a less-than-delightful experience someplace I review, please let them know about it. The only way for a business to improve is to know that there is something they need to improve upon.

4. My reviews may not be written while sober, but I will edit them while sober. This was advice given to me by a good friend who is a professor at Virginia Tech. She said that she always tells her students to never write their thesis paper inebriated, because nothing good ever comes out. I quibbled with this, pointing to several famous authors who are also famous drunks, and that the better rule would be to write drunk, edit sober. She agreed, except that she is dubious that her students ever edit anything. Fair point. So, I guess the better rule here is that I promise to edit my posts. Unless I post remotely from a brewery or fest or troll bridge, then all bets are off.

5. I totally dig suggestions. Please. Seriously. Is there a beer you want an opinion on? A brewery you’ve heard about that I may have visited? A beer fest that everyone raves about, but you’re not willing to shell out $60 a ticket without being sure (you know what I mean…) Send me a tweet or message me on Facebook or leave me a comment here. If I can get the beer or drive to the brewery or attend the fest or nosh at the restaurant or whatever, I will make it happen. This is also a great way for me to learn about new beers/breweries/bars/fests/troll holes. I do my best to keep up on the latest beer news here in Colorado via Facebook and Fermentedly Challenged and on national beer news by the usual sources (magazines, Facebook, Facebook, Facebook), but I get the best information word-of-mouth. Especially when it comes to new brewery openings – of which there will be ~6359 this year in Colorado – I need the help!

6. I’m silly. I just am. I like non sequiturs and absurdity and a little bit of dada in my everyday life. Sometimes I’ll talk about the world’s best crab cheese wontons (Wild Ginger in Littleton, by the way), and sometimes I’ll talk about how I carry around a snake named Harold in my purse to keep my company while I wait for my friends to show up at breweries. I’m weird and not afraid to let my Freak Flag fly. I don’t intend to curb this insanity in any way here.

7. I will do my best to give credit when it’s due. Whether it’s a particularly friendly beer slinger or a website I’m using content from, I will do my absolute best to give the appropriate credit. If I screw up or use a piece of your work inappropriately, please let me know and I’ll fix it right away. I never intend on abusing anyone’s property (physical, intellectual, or otherwise) and will make things right if I ever make a mistake. It’s the whole do onto others thing. Pretty good idea, that.

8. I write what I would like to read. If it’s boring me, it’s probably boring you. Some of the technical blarghity bluh is dry and just can’t be helped, but, like taking cocaine with ambien, I will do my best to counteract it. One of my favorite books of all time is Are You Dave Gorman? about a bar bet gone horribly, amazingly, perfectly wrong. It’s written by two different people and is a perfectly silly travelogue. I bought it my sophomore year of college while studying in London because the local bookstore had a 3-for-2 promotion on certain books. The cover was silly, so I picked it up. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read it and am very sad that I lent it to a college friend who moved to another state – with my book. I know that it’s selling for one cent on Amazon, but I’m lazy, what can I say? But the point of that terrible story about the book is that I want a blog like that book – funny, engaging, weird, and something you want to read again and again. I know that pining over several cans of dunkel to be Allie from Hyperbole and a Half or Jenny the Bloggess will get me nowhere. But maybe being inspired by their unmitigated brilliance will…

9. I will be honest. If I’ve been compensated for a review, I’ll let you know. If a link is going to net me a little passive income (COME ON passive income, mama needs a new pair of growler koozies!), I’ll make it obvious. If I have received special treatment in exchange for something here, I shan’t keep it a secret. I think not disclosing those details is dishonest and more than a little sketchy. I would be wary of anyone giving you advice if they aren’t willing to say why they are giving it. Most of the time, I’m giving it because I like the sound of my own typing, but y’know.

10. I like lists and ellipses and run on sentences and sentence fragments the Oxford comma and and… I know that my writing is often grammatically incorrect. It’s not because I don’t know the rules, it’s because I am choosing to break them. I prefer a conversational tone which neither the AP nor Chicago Style Guidelines seem to be in to. They can have my Oxford comma when they forcibly come and take it.

There you go. I guess that’s it. Tenish things that you can expect from me from here onward. We’ll see how well I can stick to this list (especially no. 4). Also – don’t you think no. 4 looks so much more elegant than #4? I feel so much more French when I type no. 4. No. 4. No. 4. Okay, it’s lost its magic.

The real point of this post is to prepare for my next post. The Bearded Brewer and I just got back from a long weekend to the Roaring Fork Valley and Western Slope to celebrate his birthday. We visited 12 breweries, a distillery, and a bunch of eateries. The post about our trip will be forthcoming as soon as I get my ass in gear and edit the photos. So, look for it sometime later in January. Of 2015.

Cheers!