Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's Just Beer

There, I've said it. I'd probably be turned out of some beer fans' homes for such utterances. I've certainly been given a thumping on some beer forums for saying such a thing. Beer is produced by the sweat, and tears, of hard working men and women, and the brewers' handiwork must be admired and appreciated. Beer is my favorite beverage and I can wax poetic about it. But face it, in the end, beer is just that, a beverage. When do we get carried away in our "respect" for beer?

Recently I saw an online discussion about this article, The Best Beer in the World. The article's author shares a story about a Westvleteren 12 tasting. The folks being treated to this beer were having a good time describing the flavors they noted in unusual terms; Wonder Bread, Tootsie Rolls, Sun-Maid raisins, Grape drink. The drinkers enjoyed the beer and I thought it was great they didn't get their heads full of self-rightousness and could still have fun even when faced with a legendary beer. However, the commenter in the online discussion was indignant, and thought the attendees had "no respect, nevermind reverence for the Westveletern".

C'mon folks, Westvleteren is made by holy men, but that doesn't make the beer a holy object. What's the point of enjoying a good beer with friends if you can't have fun doing it? Should we dress in our Sunday best before consuming it? (I've never had a Westy, but from what I read, the descriptors weren't that far off the mark.)

It's not uncommon to read an online discourse in which someone will state that pouring out a beer is disrespectful. I've seen more than one person claim that, even if they do not like a beer they opened, they will drink it anyway — "out of respect." I drink beer because I enjoy it. Why should I force something down my throat that I find unpleasant? Nothing disrespectful to the beer or the brewer is implied if I find I do not like a beer.

I often wonder if the folks who claim that they would never pour out a beer feel the same way about the food they eat. The farmers work hard to produce the food that graces our tables. Do the beer worshippers always eat a food that they find unpleasant out of respect for the farmer who grew it? I doubt it.

What do you think? Do you force yourself to drink beer you don't enjoy simply out of respect for the beer? Is pouring a beer down the drain showing disrespect towards the brewer?


  1. If the beer isn't horrible I'll usually drink it out of cheapness. I hate dumping something I paid for. It has nothing to do with respect.

  2. If the beer is bad, I won't finish it. Be it infected or just badly brewed.

    But there are beer styles I will taste more out of curiosity than for immediate pleasure, and I hope I still am able to develop my palate.

    At the end of the day, I have to agree with you - it's only beer.

  3. Good Lord! I pour beer down the drain all the time. Life is too short to drink gak. And I disrespect the brewer who foists gak upon me. And I stop buying his or her gak so they have less money to make more gak. I am anti-gak.

    A Good Beer Blog

  4. Boy am I glad you brought this up. I enjoy beer. I am amazed on how a brewer or brewers are able to get all different flavors with so little ingredients. I am always looking out for different things to try and definitely spend way too much money to ship beers from other countries or parts of this country simply because I want to give a beer a try. With that being said, I do find that some times people take their love of beer too far. As you put it, When do we get carried away in our "respect" for beer?
    My problem stems from the beer critics. You know the one. He/she may be sitting at a bar with you and order the newest offering from Brooklyn Brewing and then pulls out their notebook. They begin to look at it in the light, smell it and taste all the while making notes about the beer. You would think some how you stumbled in on a BJCP competition and a judging was happening right there. What ever happened to just trying the beer and decided if you liked it or not?
    Sure I write beer reviews myself but believe me it has to be something I have to be in the mindset to do. I've had plenty more great beers in the past two months than I have written a review.
    As for pouring beer out? Yeah, I do that too. If it's bad, it's bad. If I don't like it, I won't drink it and there is no sense for it to stay in my glass.
    Some times things are taken too far and some times we forget that ultimately, beer isn't made to raised to almost occult like status. Instead it's made to be enjoyed and shared.

  5. Someone telling someone else how they should enjoy their own experiences is the biggest kind of lame. I didn't exactly get tootsie roll flavors out of the Westy 12, but I can totally see how someone would, and that's cool.

    David, I'm not really looking for any more, but if I find a Westy 12 and you still haven't tried it, I'll hook you up.

    I got into a bit of an argument once on a beer forum (you're not alone) about drain pours. He claimed to have never EVER poured a beer (even though he clearly had) and claimed that it would be a sin to do so. But I'm not going to suffer through choking down a beer I hate when I could be using that time enjoying a different beer or not drinking at all. I don't think it's an insult to the brewer. If a brewer sees sales of a certain beer tanking, they should take the hint and make a change.

  6. Luckily I've not run into a beer yet that I've had to force myself to drink. There have been some that I knew I wasn't going to like but I finished them anyway. Sometimes it takes nearly the full bottle to figure out what the brewer was trying for. Case in point - Avery Fifteen. That was one wild but weird beer.

    Happy New Year btw - may 2009 be better than 2008.


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