As Beer for the Weekend is a relatively new blog this is my first article written for The Session, good to start with an interesting subject, so here is my take on ‘The Beer Moment’ and what it means to me.
Every person has their beer moment, now for each this is different, I do not mean just the first time that someone has a beer (although it may be) and I certainly do not mean the evening in the park with a bottle of cheap cider bought in a local off license as a teenager – I mean the moment that a person realises there is more to beer than just a means to being not-sober.
Now this moment is sometimes prompted by an event, a person or even a realisation. But for each individual I would guess it does have to have a trigger. For some it is easier than others. The die hard commercial lager or beer drinker who will go for a safe brand every time and goes drinking with only like minded people is going to probably have a harder time in reaching their beer moment, some may even never find it. Those that regularly go into their local pub and meet with or who socialises with others who have already gone through a beer moment will find it easier, but even these may never have one. And for those people I am sad.
It is an over simplification of what I would call a beer moment to suggest that it is the first taste of what some would call real ale, or the first time someone puts down their regular brew to try something else. The beer moment also involves something probably more profound – a realisation that what the person thought was true may not be. It would also be missing something of the point to say that each individual will have only one beer moment, that the journey ends at that point would suggest that the next stage is less of evolution and exploration and more becoming aware of what is true and always has been. So we can all still have more beer moments.
The first, I used to in my early beer drinking days prefer lager, I liked the simple and repeatable fizzyness – in fact I probably enjoyed the bland, it didn’t challenge me in any way and I knew that the beer I was going to spend my hard earned(?) student money on was something I could drink in safety. Like many a student the price often had more importance than the flavour
During the holidays I would go to my local and support my dad as he played darts – the team were all brown beer drinkers and I took the ribbing for ordering “loutish fizzy piss”.
One week our local had an ale (Summersault if I recall correctly) brewed with lager hops, this was just close enough to what I knew of as beer to ease me into trying it – from that point I was a real beer drinker, it opened me up to trying different beers and fairly soon I put the commercial lager behind me and moved on to drinking “proper brown beer”. This was my first transformation, the beer, the setting, maybe even the ribbing, set me up to have a moment where I moved beyond my safety zone and without it I don’t think that I would have the tastes which have come to be part of me as a person.
My next beer moment came a good few years later, I was invited to a beer festival by a friend. I liked real ale, but had never really thought about beer festivals and had not explored much beyond the bottle and pub. Again, it was an opening to what beer could offer – never had I even thought about how many beers there were, or all the different styles. The group I went with helped me to think about what I was drinking in a new way, they pointed out the styles, regions and tastes. Once again my beer horizons had been opened – and to something I didn’t even realise I was missing out on.
Now I am not saying that people who have not had a beer moment are missing anything, I am also not saying that to become a beer spotter or real ale enthusiast is to have a beer moment – more that sometimes you really don’t know what you are missing out on because it has never crossed your mind that there could be more to beer. And I am sure that I will have yet more beer moments in the future where once again, everything that I think I knew about beer will be challenged and changed forever.
So the smaller beer moment? Well actually it is this site, up until I started it I could run a convincing narrative on beer with friends, since I started actually reviewing beer I have come to appreciate the subtleties of some beers even more – when you start to try and describe beer to people it opens up a whole new level of engagement with your ale. I never expected the beer moment, but writing about beer and trying to explain to people just why I would dedicate so much time to a site about beer has once again challenged me and my views on beer, it makes me ask deeper questions about why I like a beer and beer in general and then forces me to try and word them in a way such that those without my beer passion can understand – maybe I may even trigger a beer moment in them.
I hope that in the future I keep having beer moments, that my views and opinions on beer are constantly under challenge and that my tastes are forced to develop with my new found perspective, I also hope that some of my writing will have the same affect on others, because a beer moment is special and develops something in each persons character who experiences one.
Cheers to Pete Brown for hosting this months Session and giving the subject of ‘The Beer Moment’