This month is being hosted by Pete Brown and here is the topic at hand….
“My approach to beer writing is by no means the only approach, but I write to try to encourage other people to share the simple joy of beer as much as I do, to switch on people who drink beer but don’t particularly care about it that much, to suggest to them that there’s so much more they might enjoy. No one says you have to do it this way, and no one ever made me the spokesperson for beer. It’s just how I decided to write, in the same way others decided to write in an opinionated way about what they love, and what they hate.
So in that spirit, my choice of topic – with 62 topics already covered – is this: simply, the Beer Moment.
What is it?
Well, what is it to you? What does that phrase evoke for you?
That’s the most important thing here. Switch off and float downstream, what comes to mind? Don’t analyse it – what are the feelings, the emotions?
I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot recently, because I’ve been talking about it to various people who are working hard to try to improve the image of beer in the UK. Because whether we articulate it or not, whether we drink vile, sunstruck Corona or barrel aged imperial stout brewed with weasel shit, it’s about the moment far more than the liquid itself. The only people who disagree with me on this are people I wouldn’t want to share a beer with.
The moment – for me – is relaxation, reward, release, relief and refreshment. It’s a moment to savour, a moment of mateship, potential, fulfilment, anticipation, satisfaction, and sheer bliss.
It’s different from the moment you drink wine or spirits – it’s more egalitarian, more sociable. It’s not just about the flavour, nor the alcohol. It’s about the centuries of tradition and ritual, the counterpoint to an increasingly stressful life, and the commonality, the fact that it means the same thing to so many.
At least – I think it does. What does it mean to you?”
There are so many individual moments related to specific beers or brewery tours or craft beer events where it seems like time stops and all of the thoughts pinging around my brain, all of the stresses and world events are shut down and focused on the here and now. Probably akin to meditation if I had the patience to practice that art form.
That pinpoint of time, to me, is not limited to craft beer. It is embedded into life. Some last longer and either “embiggen” the soul as the Simpsons would say or make my heart grow three sizes in the words of Dr. Seuss.
Unfortunately, the watched kettle does not boil (to keep using allusions) and to expect or try to manufacture these “moments” decreases the chances of experiencing one. Barring sunrise at the Grand Canyon or being courtside for a Portland Trailblazer NBA championship which are flat out automatically awe inspiring and thus “moments”.
But back to the point before I wander too far off. Filed under great beer moments in the old memory cabinet is a sub-folder that I treasure the most. Those magical beer surprises. Be it stumbling upon an old train station in Leipzig and having my first Gose or sitting on a bus near Greg Koch as he texted Sam Calagione. But the one surprise that I sometimes look too hard for is when a beer hits that sweet spot and all of the flavors and aromas just explode and all I want to do is buy a case of the stuff that minute.
The most recent example of that is Wookey Jack from Firestone-Walker. I am not a big Black IPA fan. Nor do I have a horse in the naming race that is attached to the style. But I had seen it recommended and Firestone-Walker is no brewing slouch so I popped the cap and was greeted with a big vegetal, grassy, grapefruit rind aroma. My first thought was that it was just too much. But I bravely soldiered on. And for about five sips, that burst of aroma calmed and the rye spice and citra hop lept to the forefront and I was stopped in my tracks. The cat, the TV and the nightly chores all faded to white noise and I was in the eye of the moment.
The last tastes did not reach those sublime heights as the maltiness chimed in and pushed the lemon and spice to the side but for 1/2 a bottle that beer was golden.
There will be more moments like this in the future and I will remember each fondly for that fraction of peace that was given.