I used to think I knew beer, until I moved to Seattle. It was quickly proved that I knew nothing. Tasting the Northwest craft brewing scene was like walking into that exclusive nightclub that you only ever heard about. A new world filled with fermented beverages that could only come from dusty tomes excavated from long dead civilizations. You drink from the cup and become a believer; yes, it is a religious experience.
Some of you may be thinking: “I don’t like beer.”
As my friend Chris likes to say. “Nay! You just haven’t tried the RIGHT beer.”
Over the last year, I have been introduced to home brewing through an extended family member. I only wish I had experienced it earlier. I used to think that brewing involved complicated chemistry skills, like alchemists of old who could turn lead into gold. Only a select few knew the secrets of unlocking inebriation from inert matter, and they held the status of demigods.
However, I found out that fermentation is actually a very easy process. Enough sugar and bacteria and you can ferment just about anything. Organic matter is just waiting to be turned into alcohol. Apples? Easy. Cabbage? No problem. Cats? It’s in the bag. But just because you CAN ferment something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. In fact, it does take a certain amount of skill to make alcohol taste good.
Or at least, the right equipment and ingredients. Take beer. You have your grains (which produces malt; sugar for your yeast to eat). You have your hops, which provide an amount of flavoring and act as a preservative. You have your water (clean water = clean brew). Finally, you have yeast (creates the alcohol; provides majority of flavor and texture). Put them together in the right way, and you get beer!
But it doesn’t stop there. Craft brewing is like tricking out your car; small personal touches that take the basic model and turn it into something amazing and unique. In the last year, I have tasted amazing heavenly brews that I never knew were possible. I have had a chocolate stout that tasted like a malted milkshake. I have had porter with the character and flavor of bourbon and caramel. I have had ale that tasted like lemonade and pilsners that were like refreshing iced green tea.
So if you think you don’t like beer, think again. Put down that Rolling Rock. Throw away that Coors Light. Jump onto the internet and check out breweries like Dogfish Head, Stone, Rogue, and New Belgium. You will not be disappointed!
If you want a list and ratings of beer that I have experienced over the last year jump over to Untappd, a fun social networking plugin that is a must for beer lovers (and aspiring beer lovers).