2 Jan 2012

A sign of the times?

Weizenbock is one of my favourite kinds of beer, specially in this season. It's just perfect to drink in a grey and cold afternoon. A good Weizenbock is like sitting in an armchair next to the fireplace after coming in from a winter walk in the forest.

Der Weisse Bock from Leidmann Private Landbrauerei, besides being a great model of what I say above, it's a great example of what I said a few days ago in this post: no, not that "Trappist/Abbey is not a style" thing, that couldn't be any clearer, but this "..if you really want to understand a beer, you must drink it. And I mean drink it, not "taste", sharing a 0.33l bottle with four friends, but to sit down and drink a full portion of that beer".

If someone had asked me what I thought of Der Weisse Bock when I was still drinking the first part of the glass, I would have said it was boring. There was nothing wrong with it, everything was where it should be, but it seemed like one of those beers made after the brewer was told "Helmut, we MUST have a Weizenbok this year!" and the brewer said "Bugger! OK, what the fuck...". However, already halfway down the glass the beer had opened up, as it if was feeling more comfortable in my company and started to show its true self, and what a beauty it was! I ended up smacking my lips with every sip, enjoying every single drop, and regretted not having another bottle.

Then I remembered other experienced in which the opposite happened, a beer seemed nice at first, but by the end it had become boring or had even completely fallen apart, Staropramen Nefiltrované is a good example of that, it starts OK, but before finishing it your are asking yourself "What the fuck did they want to do with this?".

I often read blogs where the authors attend festivals or go to one of those pubs with massive beer lists and tell us how they liked the many different beers they had in 0.1l or 0.15l samples. I've done that as well, it's natural, you are there and you want to taste as much as possible. But now I'm wondering how many of those beers described as "wonderful", "superb", etc. would have received the same praise if we had drunk a full portion of them, and how many of those "boring", "forgettable" ones would have ended up being "wonderful", "superb", etc.

"Tasting" is very useful to get a very good idea of what a beer is like and great to determine if there is nothing wrong with it, but not always is enough to know whether we have liked a beer or not.

On the other hand, can this habit (trend, craze?) of tasting as many beers as possible in the shortest possible time while minimising the risk of ending up more plastered than a young football player after getting his first big paycheck be one of the reasons of the apparent success of the hop bombs and extreme beers in general?

High IBU are loud, bombastic, like action films full of explosions and special effects. Malt driven beers, however, are more like thrillers where you must pay attention to the details. I'm not saying here that ones are better than the others, I can enjoy a good CGI packed blockbuster as much as a brainy whodunit, each in a different way and in a different moment.

Or could it also be that, in some way, hop bombs and extreme beers in general are a reflection of these times of instant gratification, when it's not expected (or wanted) that people will have much of an attention span?

What do I know, I'd better go get a pint.

Na Zdraví!

2 comments:

  1. I think (at least here in VA/USA) "extreme" beers are part of a series of "lifestyle" choices; usually by men in their 30-40's. For the under 30 crowd;I think it just seems trendy to drink "Imperial Double Abbey Tripled Hopped Smackdown Beer." As I have aged (40) I enjoy subtle beers and styles much more; however, I seem to be the minority among the beer trend people. I think that is why I enjoy Velky Al; Ron P's and your Blog. Naz Dravi!~ GeauxT

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  2. I agree with the part about mass-tasting. I've always wondered how it is possible to rate 30-50 beers each day on the average and not get eventually confused (not to mention the financial side...). There are some people on RB who do that. I take it that they are professionals and can instantly detect all flaws in those brews but I don't really believe they can with an honest heart say how much they liked each of those beers. Rating on such a level becomes a mechanic task I believe.

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