Wrong. Webster's dictionary defines wrong as "the state of being mistaken or incorrect." I can admit when I am wrong. I was wrong when I bet my younger sister that she could jump down an entire flight of stairs without breaking her ankle. I was wrong when I told my dad that there was no way the Denver Broncos were going to lose Super Bowl XXIV to the San Francisco 49ers. And, I was wrong when I wrote that wine was in a different league than beer.
Turns out, they are both in leagues of their own.
When beer lovers and advocates got wind of my previous viewpoint, they responded in a What you talking bout Willis manner. Stopping just short of taking all the worlds' beers and pouring them down the drain (insert evil laugh here), I had done something worse. I had equated all beers with the less than stellar examples that fill the mini-fridges of dorm rooms everywhere: the Coors Light, the Budweisers, the Keystone Lights, and, cue gag reflex, the Natural Lights.
After the outrage from my article came to my attention, I walked along the city streets of Denver a little cautiously. At any moment, I expected an Imperial Stout to throw itself toward me, cutting my forehead with the tip of its (heart)broken bottle. I feared that beer drinkers everywhere would look at me and just know I was the enemy. I even went so far to convince myself that an IPA flipped me off as I dined at a local tavern.
Before too long, I realized I had a choice: live in fear of beer or be willing to drink my words. I chose the latter.
I suggested a beer tasting and agreed to sample from a list of beers chosen by beer lovers of the world. The final list was comprised of Saison Dupont Vieille Provision, Orval Trappist Ale, Great Divide Titan IPA, Bell's Hopslam, Hoegaarden White, Great Divide Ridgeline Amber Ale, Goose Island Nut Brown Ale, and the New Belgium's La Folie.
The Hopslam and the Goose Island I was unable to locate; according to their respective websites, they are not distributed in Colorado. I did, however, locate the rest and I also threw in a Great Divide Saint Bridget's Porter. It came in a sampler with the other Great Divide beers I had purchased and it was begging to be opened. Really, who am I to say no to alcohol?
My conclusions were pretty simple: I didn't like every beer I tasted, but I can definitely see that they are highly diverse and, surprisingly, I actually found a few beers that I think I might even like better than, or as much as, wine (shhh..don't tell the grapes: they won't take it well).
And the Beer Goes On
To get into specifics, my conclusions were as follows:
The Saison Dupont Vieille Provision - A sip of this took me back to the days when I mowed the backyard, occasionally tasting grass as freshly cut specks flew into my mouth. This is a good thing. I like the taste of grass and sometimes as I mowed I found myself sticking out my tongue to catch grass blades just like a child sticks out their tongue to catch snow flakes. There is something very appealing about a beer that can capitalize on this taste and familiarity. In short, I found the Saison Dupont to be very good. It was filled with flavors of grass, herbs, and a hint of fruit and freshness. It wasn't bitter or overpowering; I thought the balance was excellent.
The Orval Trappist Ale - This beer was definitely unique, but, for me, it teetered on the brink of being too different. I preferred the aroma to the flavor, as the smell reminded me of a leather jacket. The taste I really couldn't pin down. It tasted so unusual that no adjectives seem to do it justice. Unusualness aside, I don't know that I would rush out to purchase this beer, but just a few sips were an enlightening experience to how different beers can taste.
The Great Divide Titan IPA - To be honest, this wasn't one of my favorites. Ever since I bought a pound of lemon drops as an eight year old child and ate them all in one sitting, I've had quite an aversion to anything with citrus. The Titan just had a little too much citrus for me and was a little too bitter. It was by no means bad, but it didn't stand out among the beers selected.
The Hoegaarden White - I have to admit, the name of this one threw me a bit; in several moments of beer dyslexia, I kept referring to it as a Garden Ho. The taste, however, I was pleasantly surprised by. While there was a bit of citrus (I hate you lemon drops), it wasn't overpowering. More than anything, I found it tasted a lot of wheat. It also smelled better than any beer I've ever tried, causing me to want to do away with perfume and just rub some Hoegaarden on my neck before my next date.
The Great Divide Ridgeline Amber Ale - The moment I tasted this beer, it instantly reminded me of Avalanche Amber Ale (go figure, right?). What was weird is that before this beer tasting, Avalanche Amber Ale was among my preferred choice in beer. However, broadening my horizons has caused the Amber Ales to drop down a few levels. Even with all the snow Colorado has had, for me, it is no longer Avalanche season.
The New Belgium's La Folie - I can appreciate the diversity of this beer; it definitely tasted unlike any beer I've ever drank. Yet, it was a little too on the sour side for my liking. There were moments when the sourness waned and I could taste the non-citrus fruits. In those moments, I really enjoyed its sweetness. But, when the bitterness returned, I turned bitter as well.
The Great Divide Saint Bridget's Porter - Before this beer tasting, I routinely stayed away from a dark beer like I would stay away from a dark alley, frightened that something unappealing was lurking in the corner. But, in this particular beer, I think I found my favorite. It tastes like chocolate, which, quite simply, makes it my new best friend.
Overall, the Saison Dupont, the Hoegaarden, and the Saint Bridget's Porter were my favorite, but the rest definitely helped change my mind about beer. It surely is as diverse as wine and brew masters deserve the same respect as winemakers. Wine may go well with desserts but beer, it's what's for dinner.
So to all the beer lovers, beer advocators, and beer drinkers I offer my apologies. I can understand your affinity for beer just as I hope you understand mine for wine. I can understand your appreciation of the different flavors and styles. I'm not saying I'm going to replace my wine cellar for a beer tap, but my days of staying away from porters and stouts are over.
I hope I can be forgiven and, shall our paths ever cross, I hope you will buy me a beer.
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