Jay Cronley: Sipped or swilled, beer's still beer
BY JAY CRONLEY World Staff Columnist
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
11/13/12 at 4:38 AM
There are beer snobs and beer stooges.
I'm nearer the latter.
My experience with beer started with beer bellies and beer busts, keg parties down by the Canadian River outside Oklahoma City. Somebody's relative would leave a big, fat keg by the trickle of water weaving through the sand, no questions asked.
These riverside keg parties began with high expectations and ended with upside-down stomachs and sheriff's deputies with bright lights and notepads, collecting the names and numbers of parents.
Beer used to be almost generic. The seller at the ballpark called out, "Beer here!"
Beer drinking has given way to beer tasting.
Beer drinking is bottoms up.
Beer tasting is heads up.
Road trips: I always thought beer notes were played by Bob Seger.
That was then.
That was when the wine connoisseur had the study and consumption of complicated and sophisticated alcoholic drink to him and herself.
That a bozo could pop a wine cork and become instantly worldlier was enough to gall any beer drinker.
Beer has no Napa Valley, where the grapes grow plump and perfect, and the tour buses haul about tipsy seniors and students of the vine. For beer fans there's Golden, Colo., the big brewery in St. Louis; there are the hundreds of small breweries like Cigar City Brewing in Tampa that puts out Puppy's Breath porter; and there's Belgium, the garden spot of beer, a country the size of Maryland with about 200 breweries.
Taking notes: Until recently, I have known two kinds of beer, good and bad.
A beer note obviously has to do with a part of the whole, an aspect of the flavor, something like a spicy note.
Stuffing a slice of lime down the bottle neck does not make for a agreeable note of beer.
I recently sat among some beer tasters and heard about things that I never knew existed.
Taste the clove in this one, one of them said to me.
I tried, and tried again, unsure that I could bite into a clove and taste the clove.
Pull from the alcoholic content and the complex body a subtle hint of nut, fruit, even chocolate?
You have to focus, no simple trick among great beers.
It's probably true, there's nothing like a growler from a nitro-keg, and a cab.
Original Print Headline: Sipped or swilled, beer's still beer