By Marguerite Washut, BBBC Taproom/Events Coordinator
Last month, Bale Breaker hosted a tasting series called “Hoppy YumYum 101” to help further educate beer snobs and amateurs alike. Our QC expert, Jackie Beard, led the four-part series with impressive knowledge and a helpful flow chart to breakdown each phase of the brewing process topped off with a tasting flight. Needless to say, lots of information and beer were consumed. (Side note: I wish learning was always this fun)
To my genuine surprise, I, Marguerite Washut, tried a stout and (here’s the kicker) I LIKED IT.
So, let me back up here. Once upon a time, I went on a date with a guy in the wine industry. Over dinner, I was trying to find something, anything, to talk about. So, what did I do? I naturally threw myself under the bus and told him I knew nothing about wine but the one thing I did know was that I hated Chardonnay. Then, I asked him what his biggest pet-peeve was being in the wine industry. He twirled his wine glass as winos do, and said, “I absolutely can’t stand when people turn their nose to certain types of wine. Like when women say they detest Chardonnay."
Awkward. I quickly picked up my Greyhound and took a healthy gulp, looking for the nearest exit.
He clarified, “For instance, Chardonnays have a stereotype of being super sweet and buttery. But not one type of wine is the same. Chardonnays can also be dry and crisp! You just have to give it a try.”
Fair. He made a good point and his point has stuck with me to this day, even though we didn’t. ;)
I kept reminding myself of this experience during the tasting series; it’s important to keep an open mind and at least give every beer a try. One class was about “Barrels & Fruit” and how each play a part in the overall tasting palate. There were two types of stouts in the lineup, which I was dreading to taste. Why? Because for some reason I think of stouts being heavy and malty and bloaty and thick. Yuck. However, much to my chagrin, that old date’s voice was ringing in the back of my head and told me to just try it. And guess what? He was right. Sort of. I liked one of the two stouts. Progress, right?
The favorable stout was brewed from BBBC’s Imagination Station and it was pleasantly light, fruity, and refreshing. Completely opposite of my pre-conceived notion of what it was going to taste like! The other one was exactly how I thought it was going to taste. The difference? The one I liked was more fruit-forward and the one I didn’t like was aged in whiskey barrels, giving it a fuller body and an ass kicking to the throat.
The point is, it’s all about how the beer is made! Don’t look at the style and immediately turn up your nose. Ask questions about aroma, flavor and taste. Find out what flavors you like and distinguish those you don’t. Does it smell good to you? Why or why not? Take small sips and keep the beer in your mouth for a few seconds before gulping it down. The first two sips (just like the first two dates) are the most sensitive, so always trust your gut. Don’t like “hoppy” beer? Well, I didn’t either until I tried Bottomcutter. Fun fact: Bottomcutter is actually the hoppiest beer out BBBC’s core lineup.
At the end of the day, the brewing process is another form of dating; you’ve gotta try all the flavors before you commit. And not to beat a dead horse here, but really, you can’t judge a book by its cover, and you can’t judge a beer by its style. You’ll have so much more fun in a taproom if you challenge your palate, whether you leave with a date or not. ;)
Girl Meets Hops: A monthly column about an amateur's quest to find out what's behind the buzz.
Posted March 28, 2019