This month’s Session topic (a regular query posed by an anointed member of the beer blogging world) comes from John over at the Home Brew Manual: Brewers and Drinkers—or, do you need to brew beer in order to fully enjoy it?
OK, first I need to address the video above. In an effort to illustrate some loose point about non-musicians enjoying music, I Googled “Air Drummer,” and wound up with this clip. It’s from the 2008 film “Adventures of Power,” a movie about aspiring air drummers which (luckily?) slipped under my radar. So, yeah, this exists and I thought you deserved to know about it.
But more to the point: Do you need to brew beer in order to fully enjoy it? No, not necessarily. I had a slice of cherry pie last week—it was knee-buckling delicious—and I’ve not made any effort, past or present, to enter into the world of baking. The pursuit of enjoyment doesn’t come with a universal blueprint. Some find it through acts of pure hedonism, while others take a more intellectual route. I don’t need to understand the perfect method for kneading dough in order to enjoy the crisp crust of a pie. You don’t need to understand a triple decoction in order to enjoy a Pilsner Urquell. Your taste buds take care of that for you.
But, don’t discount the added enjoyment through intellectualism. Case in point: DRAFT’s tasting panel. Each week, I meet with our panel—a collection of very talented homebrewers and beer judges—for blind tastings. Drinking with these guys is a completely different experience than slinging back pints on Sunday during a football game. Sure, there’s the same level of enjoyment via taste buds when a good beer’s put in front of them, but it’s also followed by an “inside baseball” discussion about the beer: Like, whether a particular witbier was brewed with Indian or Mexican coriander, or the alpha acids of emerging hop varietals. It’s fascinating stuff, and I often wish some of my newer craft beer loving friends could sit in just to listen.
So, does that actually mean you need to intellectualize beer in order to fully enjoy it? Define “fully.” Here are two of my favorite beer tasting moments last year: Sampling and discussing Cigar City Cucumber Saison with our panel last summer; and drinking a hand-pumped IPA a month later inside a pub in Bristol, England with an old friend while catching up on life.
You should be the judge of your own enjoyment. If you’re looking to learn a little more about beer and expand your palate along the way, I know of a certain magazine that might be of some help.