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Acquiring a Taste For Beer

Many young people find beer a confusing substance. The media bombards them with images, confirming beer’s ‘cool’ status, the must-have brew of the well-to-do. In reality, of course, any bum can afford a beer, given a excellent day’s pan handling, but the commercials would have you believe that the only people popping a top are funky, smart, skinny and sassy. So much for reality TV. Dozens of online forums receive posts from teenagers nearly desperate, it seems, to learn what the fuss is all about. “Why do people delight in beer?” questions curiouscat. “It tastes bitter, why do people like to drink? Are they just showing off? Or do they truly delight in it?” You’d reckon the answer would be to suck it and see, but apparently basking in other people’s experiences is more in fashion than having our own these days. Do we live vicariously through the hapless antics of TV stars and movie actors? Why not go and try a bunch of excellent beer and make up your own mind? Curious he may be, but this cat’s nine lives are all going to be pretty dull at this rate.

Meanwhile, a convert to the cause has seen the light and needs help bringing others into the fold. “What is a excellent beer to try for people who don’t like beer?” SDUTE wonders. “I have several friends who despise beer. What is a excellent kind to start them out with?” The temptation is to suggest he finds some pals with better taste, but the answer is that there’s a bunch of beers out there that the majority of people will never even see, much less try. Among all those thousands of microbrews, organic and imported beers will be the killer bottle, the one excellent beer that nobody with decent taste buds could object to. People must learn to ignore what’s under their noses and hunt down the specialist stuff.

Habit is not easily broken, though. Most people’s first and sometimes only contact with ‘beer’ will be the huge brand names, bland, chemical concoctions designed to be cheap and not very cheerful. Remember growing up with vanilla ice-cream? It was ultra-yellow, fluffy, cheap, tasteless mush, and we accepted this as excellent. And then one day, some kind soul fed us our first Haagen-Dazs. BLAM! There goes history, ruined in a single bite. Our years of wandering in the ‘dessert’ are over! THIS is ice-cream? So what was that other stuff?

Excellent beer is just like that. You can call it blissful, but ignorance is no defence when you face your first really fantastic beer. Imagine your soul as a cold, damp, soggy sponge, filled with dozens or hundreds of litres of cheap, huge-brand beer. Suddenly, the excellent beer hits your taste buds. Your soul is transformed into a beery Advent calendar. All the small numbered doors open and glorious sunlight spills out, blinding you, burning away that stuff you used to know as ‘beer’. You have crossed the line and it’s nearly impossible to go back.

Market forces being what they are, the marketeers are starting to see the potential in small mark beers. This will result in their exploitation and eventually they will become too successful, and therefore lose touch with their roots. One day, people may write about those long-lost uber-beers, the fallen Kings, the beers that once were proud to say that they were the daddy, part of the game, or probably the best in the world. All fallen by the wayside, crushed beneath the wheels of excellent beer juggernauts, delivering kegs and cases to every corner shop in the world. And underground movements will lust for those lost beers, demand their revival as small, limited-run brewings, send them around the world and start the cycle all over again.

So the next time you wonder what the fuss is all about with beer, remember this: there probably IS no fuss for 90 per cent of the population. Most people you meet, for now, will reckon that cold fizzy dog pee, served in millions of bars and restaurants everywhere, is ‘beer’. Now you know better. Be among the smart, informed minority, and be smug, because one day people will be coming to you for advice on finding a excellent brewski.

Ashley Cotter-Cairns is Secretary-General of united-nations-of-beer.com/index.html” target=”_new The United Nations of Beer. Become a recognised beer celebrity by volunteering as a united-nations-of-beer.com/index.html” target=”_new UNOB Beer Delegate for your country!

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