Monday, August 14, 2006

The Beer Chronicles

Since everyone up here seems to drink a lot, I figured I'd better get started. I've recently been doing some beer sampling to find out if there are any beers I actually like. (Up to now I've mostly agreed with my grandmother, who just said "pour it back in the horse it came out of.") But plenty of people seem to like them, and I figured I'd really just tried a few, mostly pretty cheap brands, so what the heck; maybe I'd find something I like.

The first thing I found out may be a partial explanation to why everyone drinks so much in Pennsylvania: you cannot buy any alcohol in a grocery store. My first thought was to just find a recommendation and try out one or two things picked up at the local supermarket, but the state in it's infinite wisdom thinks it's better if you have to have specialty stores which sell nothing but huge cases of hooch. Of course, I was a little hesitant to pick up a full case of anything I wasn't sure if I'd like or not, so I opted to take advantage of a local "happy hour" organized by friends and start sampling at a bar. The other plus to this is that there were plenty of people willing to give me advice.

My starter beer was a Yuengling lager. Interestingly, Yuengling is a Pennsylvania beer, and it's also the oldest brewery in the US. So I gave this a shot. Yup, tastes like beer. Which is to say, while it's not a horrible experience, I have no urge to try it a second time.

Next week, I wanted to branch out and try something quite different, so I picked something called Blue Moon which people told me was more of a "fruity" beer. I like fruity things. I like sweet fruity desert wines. I like fruity mixed drinks. I'm fruity. I noticed that to emphasize the point about the fruitiness, the beer was even served with a slice of orange on the glass. I was at a loss as to whether that was purely decorative or if I should squeeze the orange and dump it in, and my companions were no more sure. I tried both ways. I couldn't tell any difference. In fact, I couldn't tell any difference between this and the previous beer, so this is also going into my "not a winner" column.

During dinner at an Irish pub style restaurant before my next bar date, I got a suggestion to try a cider called Strongbow, as it might be more my style. I have to grant, this was not bad. It still doesn't make it on my "Ooh, I want that" list, but it's on my "I may drink that again" list. It may help that it has a high alcohol content, and after two I was nicely toasted.

My final experiment was in the "humorous beverage" category. I call it that because when one friend suggested I could try a Guinness stout, everyone else laughed. But I was game; I was looking to try the full range of tastes. After all, it was Hobbes who said "Tigers don't know if they like ice cream until they've tried every flavor." (Were you thinking of the right Hobbes when you first read that? If not, I'd like to gently remind you of just who you're reading right now.)

So next happy hour, I ordered the Guinness. I could at least recognize a difference between this and every other beer I'd tried, but it wasn't a huge difference. My summary of the basic problem with this and all the others: They all taste like beer.

I feel safe in wrapping up my experiments now, and writing my conclusions: Having sampled some variety of beers, I have come to the conclusion that I don't really care for it. Cider however is passable as something which tastes almost, but not quite, entirely unlike beer. I'm sticking with Coke.

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