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No, you don't have to try 1000 beers, but over time and with training you learn to identify traits that you associate with quality beers.

then you take the recommendations of others who have had similar training and that allows you to sift through beers to arrive at those that are of consistent high quality. For instance, the Champion Beer of Britain is a selection of county based tasting panels that feed through to regional recommendations. All then go to the final selection at the GBBF. Divided into Mild, bitters, strong bitters, golden beers and other. (dark beers are done at the Winter festival), each category has a winner which are then judged against each other for quality.

Of course personal preference comes into it a bit, but the fact is that very few people who really care about quality beer actually recommend poor quality beers. So even within our personal preferences, mine is for very hoppy beers, we will have similar criteria about what a good beer can be.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 11:25:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't disagree that a dog is a dog. But then when we come up against the cream of the crop, there is only personal taste to decide. And just how is it that the experts have taste buds uneffected by a cascade of different beers tasted one at a time. It is not a science, I know. But I would hate to learn that these tasters are just a bunch of alcoholics, to whom anything tastes great.

So you still haven't told me about the best light beer around. Is there any such thing, especially among foreign beers available in the US, not just in Boston?

by shergald on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 01:08:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How ? Training, not as rigorous as wine tasters to be sure, but it's a similar sort of thing. To suggest it's just a bunch of drunks getting together and privileging their opinions denigrates everything I've been trying to say.

What do you mean by light beer ? I don't recognise the term. Do you mean weak ? Relative to what ? Or do you mean any straw coloured beer ?

As for american beers, Cat's graph suggests there's 1300 different breweries in the US right now, most of them doing at least half decent craft beer and I am unfamiliar with almost all of it. I know that the US does very good beer and I know that they do better IPAs than most breweries in the UK. But I can't name you a brewery and a beer you'll find just down the road.

this is a journey you have to do using local resources, such as gotham imbiber, which also covers boston and any local craft beer drinkers group you can find.

I can tell you about British beer, I can't really advise on US.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 02:23:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's nothing wrong with being denigrated.

As you may have noticed, it has happened to me on occasion here, with the same lack of justification as your own. I grin and bear it.

And that the one point, Cat's that is, sort of: there's too many breweries, and certainly too many in the US. Why can't the brewers just make a few really good brews that no one can deny are not the best damn beers in the world? Well, because it looks like we're back to my original point: personal taste. I hope that you'll emphasize this point next time you write a diary about beer. The professional tasters are just no better than us. Maybe they're running a scam. Who knows.

by shergald on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 05:18:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
because it looks like we're back to my original point: personal taste. I hope that you'll emphasize this point next time you write a diary about beer.

Right.  Because it's up to Helen to emphasize something that's obvious to everyone already, but which you decide to make some issue out of.  Because obviously everyone here needs a disclaimer that specialized critiques are, y'know, criticisms based on the judges' tastes.  And criticisms are NEVER handy in subjective areas, which is why none of us EVER share anything about areas which we may have more experience in than others, like film, books, music, food, etc.  

Why did I not see this before?  From now on, I'm ONLY writing OBJECTIVE, PROVABLE fact!  First up:  "The Sky is Blue, People."  Or... wait, y'know sometimes it's gray... or... well shit, it can be all sorts of colors.  Or none!  And what about the color-blind among us?  And how do we even know we're all seeing the same thing just because we've all labelled it 'blue?"

No worries, I'll think of something... something that'll make you not have to waste two days making tedious comments.... I'm so sorry for all the distress this has caused you, correcting our shoddy communications.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 06:26:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Spoken like a true beer affictionado (sic). You have it down perfectly. Couldn't have said it better. Now tell helen.

by shergald on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 08:19:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Forget Helen -- I'm telling Ebert! I'm sure he'll just hang it up, once I enlighten him with your comments.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 08:53:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And PS: Given your rant, let me take this time to apologize to all of those Koors drinkers for my earlier remarks. Just because they support a right wing racist Republican family is no excuse to demean their beer, no matter how insipid and metallic its taste. Afterall, my theme on this diary has been that personal taste supercedes all else, given that everyone knows a dog when he tastes one.

However, even here, who is to say who the dogs really are or that Koors is among the dogs? It may just be a simple case of snobbery.

by shergald on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 08:47:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right, because comparing connoisseurs to political cheerleaders is exactly the same thing and totally proves your point -- glad that's cleared up!

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 09:01:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't worry about it Izzy.

As evidenced by this statement (among others);-

here's nothing wrong with being denigrated.

As you may have noticed, it has happened to me on occasion here, with the same lack of justification as your own. I grin and bear it.

I do not believe that shergald's baiting of me is anything to do with the content of this diary, but may be payback for perceived or actual slights by me in diaries of his. The sheer illogicality of his hymn to wilful ignorance is simply the hook on which he supposes to enrage me. I can't do Jerome's {gallic shrug} but I can effect a convincing west coast "whatever"

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 05:40:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Try a South-East English "Yeah, so...?"
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 09:43:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's evolved a little, it's not "Yea, and...?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 09:47:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Please Helen. I like you and would never care to defame your person. All I'm trying to do here is to engage debate with a point of view, and from the looks of it, an interesting diary about beer, got a little more spicy, intellectually speaking. If you read the comments, after the dogs are laid aside, it is all about personal tastes.

And don't think I don't have some misgivings about the Yankees either. I mean just the pinstripes alone, which bring up reminiscences of Wall Street, capitalism, and then for god's sake, Republicanism. However, once a Yankee fan, you're stuck for life. Sorry.

by shergald on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 01:36:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
PS: And speaking of commnercially available beer, where can we put Beck? It is at least reliable if not the greatest taste around. I think that my problem with the 1000 beers, is that most go by the wayside. Beck is not the greatest, but as I said, but it is at least a survivor among the German group.

And may I ask: why should Duval or any other beer that has achieved greatness change their formula, if it is their formula that made them great in the first place? Is it rather we who have changed?

by shergald on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 01:14:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Becks ? It's an okay pils. tends towards the bland but it's supposedly brewed according to the rheinheitsegebot purity law, so it should be better than most commercial mega kegged pilseners you'll find.

I don't know that much about german beers regrettably, I just don't have enough opportunities to drink it. I'm also not the biggest fan of pils beers anyway. Although I can recognise a good one, I prefer other german styles

As for why beers get changed, I refer you to my tirade about the destruction of bass in a previous diary;-

Bass Bitter (Union brewed)

Bass bitter is known throughout the world, its red Triangle symbol is the world's oldest trademark (London no 1) and has been an export success since the early 20th century. And one of the things that made it a success was the fact that it was brewed using what is known as the Union system that made it an unusually consistent and stable beer. However, accountants, never known for allowing a bankable success to get in the way of seeking to squeeze costs, decided that the maintenance of the Union system was hurting the bottom line and scrapped it. With a stroke of a pen a yeast line that had remained stable for over a century was cast aside and the quality of the beer nosedived.

It became too sweet and lacked the depth of flavour that had made it such a bankable choice. Once a pub that sold Bass well had been a mark of quality to actively seek out and appreciate, people swapped notes as to where the best pint could be had (Euston station was the the most frequently tipped). But with the loss of the beer, so went the reputation. Bass is now owned by Coors of the USA. They deserve nothing better.

It happens all the time, I have lost count of the number of good beers that have been sweetened, made less bitter, made slightly thinner, added sugar for alcohol. all in the name of greater profitability. Quality and capitalism are not compatible.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 02:30:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can't agree more about canned Guinness or the drafts, and certainly Bass Ale went down the tubes long ago. Haven't even heard of the others you reviewed.

Just too many to keep track of or even to get access to. It is worse than wine. At least least the wineries have to grow grapes, but the brewers just buy a few bags of grain and that's it.

by shergald on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 05:23:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And PS once again: I noticed that the Sox are playing in New York today, and they are going to get their asses kicked. Know what kind of beer is served at Yankee Stadium? What beer is the Sox beer and which is the Yankee beer? This is another variable in the race to the best beer. And why are American beers not considered at all in this discussion? Okay don't answer.

by shergald on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 01:21:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hello, the GBBF had 100 American craft beers on draught !! You're the one who wants to talk about belgian.

But in terms of volume, most american beer is rubbish from the big brewers. But you can find craft beers almost everywhere now, look around you.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 02:34:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who'se going to take a chance on a fancy name unknown beer. Those that I have tried a;ways had an off taste. In fact, my appreciation of many of those beers is that the taste 'off.' Take it from me, if the beer is red, just skip it.

by shergald on Sat Aug 7th, 2010 at 05:27:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Start by deciding on the styles you like (IPAs, brown ales, stouts, whatever).  Narrow it down to one you'd like to try a selection of.  Then go to the store and look at a few.  Read the labels.  A lot of the specialty beer stores will have descriptions these days, too, to give you a rough idea of what to expect.

Buy a few -- they usually let you grab six for a variety pack -- and see what you think.

Have a sense of adventure.  You'll find some dogs, but you'll also find some stuff that'll blow away garbage like Becks (which is just Budweiser for people who don't want to get caught drinking Budweiser).

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 08:46:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I hope your not inferring that I'm a closet Bud lover, are you? My whole point here is that once you get beyond the dogs, it is all a matter of personal taste. And that is just why it makes no sense to waste your time at beer conventions, except to get on a free drunk, or listening to beer affictionados. If you have an identical twin, that's different. THen listen.

And some beer drinkers drink out of political convictions, and if you can convince your taste buds that this tastes good, so be it.

by shergald on Sun Aug 8th, 2010 at 01:18:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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