is an award winning
member of the North
American Guild of Beer
Writers. His column
Adventures in Beerland
is now a regular feature of
|As the new beer year of 2020 is staring at us smack in the face through an unwashed shaker pint glass coated with
dried remnants of that last Russian Imperial Stout you shouldn’t have had on New Year’s Eve, it’s time to consider
some beer resolutions. Be warned we’re talking serious resolutions unlike last year's which I’m sure you were
reminded of when you watched the ball drop in Times Square since that’s exactly what you did with them.
The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000
years ago. They were also the first to hold recorded celebrations in honor of the New Year according to references
deciphered from third millennium BCE cuneiform texts. No surprise then to learn that they were also enthusiastic
beer drinkers. They may however have been a bit too enthusiastic since it has to be more than coincidence that the
people who started this tradition of making resolutions also started the practice of never keeping them.
Far be it for us folks at BeerNexus to break a tradition handed down by really serious drinkers so I took it upon myself
to survey some of my colleagues (at least those who are speaking to me) here at BeerNexus about their beer
resolutions for the new year. After extensive editing, punctuation corrections, condensing, and downright fabrications
I’ve come up with a list of their responses which I'm not taking credit for. So grab a beer and heartily resolve to follow
each and every one of them. Note – when you grab that beer make it one with a very high ABV since after a couple
you’ll more easily fool yourself into thinking you might actually follow through on them.
1. Resolve to look for the Independent Craft Brewer Seal when buying any beer.
For the record the seal is not a picture of a seal which would, if it were, seal the deal with any marine mammal that
loves the cold and likes to swim. The seal we’re talking about is a drawing of an upside-down beer bottle, which is
supposed to symbolize how the U.S. craft beer movement has turned beer on its head worldwide. If you turn your
bottle upside down when pouring you’ll obviously miss the point so only tilt slightly.
This seems to be one resolution that’s easy to keep The seal differentiates authentic independent craft beer
(hooray) from Big Beer acquired brands (boo). Buy beer with the seal if you want to see craft not only survive but
continue to grow. That of course begs the question what if your favorite beer doesn’t have the seal. Should you still
buy it? I’d say no but if you do be prepared to be called a Benedict you know who (and it’s not Cumberbunch).
2. Resolve to be respectful and appreciate all beer. That includes America’s favorite tasteless, watery, yellow liquids
as well as strange styles with incomprehensible ingredients.
Craft beer aficionados may not believe it but Budweiser is an excellent (yes, Budweiser and excellent are in the same
sentence) example of a style that is common around the planet - a pale, lightly hopped adjunct lager. For what it is, it
is quite good. And it consistently tastes the same which is more than many local craft breweries can say about their
beers made on an easily controlled small system. From that perspective you should no longer laugh, insult, or point
fingers (especially just one) at the Bud, Miller, or Coors drinker on the other side of the bar. If you accidentally knock
over his drink or send him to a tree when he asks where the bathroom is, well, that’s okay but only in extreme
circumstances such as he's on his third pint of swill.
While that part of the resolution isn't really hard to do even gentle and kind beer people may find it difficult to
acknowledge that beer made with things like beard hair, monkey do-do, coffee beans chewed by several hundred
people, or bull testicles (there are three per barrel, to be precise, in Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout) are worthy of
anything but disrespect. On this you are correct. They're all disgusting so let’s just stick with the Bud one.
3. Resolve not to buy a beer if the bottle/can doesn't have a date on it.
Sadly there are no laws that require breweries to date their products. There also are no laws against fat-free chips
made with Olestra, removing that mattress tag, one-ply toilet paper, or being a Kardashian. I just don't understand it.
Old, out of date beer is stale beer and stale beer is bad beer. Oh, please don’t write me about aging beers. I know
some beers cry out to be stashed away in a cool, dark, cellar but I can’t think of one IPA, pale ale, or lager that is in
that group. Three to five weeks from the date of production is optimum if you want the flavors to shine through no
matter what a distributor might lie to you about or a brewer's best by date..
Now don’t worry if you have a few IPAs in the back of your fridge that are more than a couple of months old. Science
has proven it will not, repeat not, turn to poison. It will only taste that way. Beer doesn’t expire in the same way as
milk which turns a stomach wrenching sour or bread that will transform into a horrid green mold sometimes called
penicillin. No, with beer the flavors will simply diminish and it will begin to taste like wet cardboard or wet cardboard
on a 6 year old Saltine cracker, or wet cardboard left out overnight in a cat litter box.
The purist may justifiably expand this resolution to include cans that always seem to have a smeared, unintelligible
date lightly (to the point of being invisible) stamped on their bottoms. Just a bad run you say. Not likely. These are
professional brewers and canners not a second grader with an ink pad and stamper from a Dollar Tree store. I’m
guessing they probably pay extra to get it intentionally done that way.
You may also add breweries that use a coded date. And we’re not talking about famous codes like the Caesar Shift,
Alberti’s Disk, Enigma machine, or Little Orphan Annie’s Coder Ring. These brewery creations would be
indecipherable to even the geniuses at Britain's famed Bletchley Park. A minor annoyance in this category are
breweries that use the Julian Calendar date. The Julian calendar, proposed by Julius Caesar in 708 AUC (46 BC),
took effect on 1 January 709 AUC (45 BC), by edict. I’d say any brewery that uses that calendar is either trying to
teach some history to the public or has something to hide. I think the latter is a safe guess.
4. Resolve to ask the bartender to serve your craft been in a glass without a Bud Light or Coors Light logo.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spilled beer over myself drinking from those kinds of glasses. It’s not easy trying
to cover up the logo with one hand and lifting it with the other while having your eyes closed so as not to see those
offending letters. Put even the best craft beer in one of those vessels and sorcery takes over– the good stuff begins
to taste like it’s a corn and rice adjunct laden concoction. Its mind over matter I guess. InBev must have a house
witch-doctor to cast the spell. Hey, if they can afford to give away millions of those glasses to bars throughout the
world then they surely can afford to have at least one spell caster.
The type of glass you drink your beer from is important. The right beer glass brings out the flavors, aromas, and
color of your drink. For example bocks, helles, maibocks, and witbiers are best in a pilsner glass while beer like
Belgian strong ales, barleywines, double/imperial IPAs are most suited for a tulip glass. Regardless of what glass you
use we strongly suggest using one. Without a container of some sort things will get quite messy.
5. Resolve not to drink the same beer twice if there is one you haven’t tried yet.
This may seem a bit counterproductive on first glance. After all, if you are drinking a fine beer why stop. Trying new
beers will expand your palate, introduce you to a variety of new taste sensations, allow you to revisit something you
may have dismissed in the past. It might even give you a greater appreciation for that favorite beer you always order.
Drinking beer is supposed to be fun. Doing the same thing over and over again will reach a point of diminishing
returns on the fun. Try new beers often and you’ll be surprised and pleased. Of course sometimes you won’t.
However that bit of not knowing if you'll like the beer or not can be entertaining too. Think of it this way, having
Cheerios every day for breakfast might get a bit boring. That’s why they make Honey Nut Cheerios, Banana Nut
Cheerios, Yogurt Burst Cheerios, Chocolate Cheerios, Multi-Grain Cheerios, and probably a dozen more. They are
all Cheerios but they’re all different. I wonder if they make a Cheerios Cheerios .
Honorable Mention Beer Resolutions.
I had a bunch of other items for this month’s article but I'm now near the limit of my allotted space. So rather than let
all of that thinking go to waste – you can only write a column like this once a year – I’ll just list them here in turbo form.
Resolve to –
1. Tip you bartender 10% more than usual for the entire new year. Full disclosure – since I bartend on weekends
that just might help me.
2. Complain about pint glasses that just aren't pints - lookalikes that hold much less liquid. If the manager is called
and he proves you are wrong do not mention me or BeerNexus.
3. Support your local brewery unless they are really terrible like the ones near me.
4. Drink more lagers and West Coast IPAs. Every January just about every ”beer expert” predicts that will be a tre
nd in the new year. If we helped out maybe they’d finally be right and we’d never have to read that again.
5. Cook with beer. Sometime actually put it in the food.
6. Not step on any little kids or babies who are taking up seats or wandering around a brewery's tasting room while
their parents ignore them. In those cases it is okay to step on the parents.
7. Not rely on Untappd, Rate Beer, or Beer Advocate to tell you what is a good beer and what is not. Some of those
ratings are bogus, planted, and/or done by inebriated drinkers who practice grade inflation. The only thing higher
than their ratings are themselves.
If you think those were bad you should see the ones I didn’t include. Hey, it’s a new year. If I started out with my best
column I’d have no were to go but down for the next eleven months.
Happy Brew Year to all!
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