The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic.
This month, John at Home Brew Manual asks ‘How does brewing affect your enjoyment of drinking beer?’
Session #71: Brewers and Drinkers
Brewers and Drinkers is about your relationship with beer and how it’s made. Do you brew? If so why? If not, why not? How does that affect your enjoyment of drinking beer?
An interesting topic, and here are my thoughts:
‘Scuse Me While I Kiss
this bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout
I started to play guitar around the time I first listened to Jimi Hendrix. I learnt the chords to a couple of songs and particularly liked Purple Haze or watching a video of him setting fire to his guitar and smashing it up at Monterey. But the more I learnt about the guitar, the more I realised I didn’t know, and the more awesome Hendrix sounded. I quickly came to appreciate that playing the chords wasn’t the same as playing like Hendrix, that anyone could smash up a guitar, but few people could really play it like Hendrix. I started to pick up on subtleties of a guitar solo that drifted from a blues scale into Mixolydian mode, or of a passage where he played rhythm guitar while his thumb played the baseline. I listened less to Purple Haze, instead searching for bootlegs or unreleased tracks that might have a brief moment of improvisation I hadn’t heard before. Twenty years later, I think I appreciate his music more than ever, but I couldn’t say I enjoyed it more, just that I hear it in a different way.
What has this got to do with brewers and drinkers? Well in a way, it’s been like my experience with beer. It was easy at first – at sixteen, lager tops was a good enough drink for me. But the more I’ve learned about beer, the more I’ve come to realise just how much I don’t know and the more awesome particular beers have become. Growing hops and brewing a beer have given me an appreciation of beer I didn’t have before – and that’s just from a kit! It’s not just understanding the process and the effort that goes into making beer, but appreciating the subtleties. I love the whack of a good hop monster, or a heavily smoked rauchbier, but I think I’m even more impressed when I come across a beer that has a delicacy of touch. Anyone can make beer, but I feel further away than ever from making water, yeast, barley and hops into something as complex but seemingly simple as a beer like Timothy Taylor Landlord or as subtley smoked and restrained as Moor Horyzon.
Does it follow that I enjoy beer more? That’s a tricky one. Did my younger self, drinking Stella with friends in a loud bar, enjoy beer any less than my present self, sipping an imperial stout from the comfort of an armchair, simply because back then I had less understanding of brewing? I doubt it but I certainly drink less Stella and more impy stouts than I did then. Do you need to brew to appreciate beer? Hell, no! I’ve certainly increased my appreciation of the different flavours that can be found in beer, and how they’re achieved, but then I spend more time analysing it and deliberating over what beer to have – it was much simpler once! My appreciation of beer and of music has definitely changed, but saying that, I’d still be happy to have a pint of Stella and watch a video of Hendrix smashing his guitar.
I might just do that now, it has been a long time… Cheers!