Thursday, November 16, 2006

For the Love of Beer

When I found Ratebeer, I was introduced to a community of people, who, like me, love beer and learning about it. It has led to nearly five years of unmitigated exploration for new beers, and resulting discoveries of some fantastic beers that I never would have found otherwise. But what it also did, or rather, what I did after joining, is leave behind many favorites, simply because I lack the liver and caloric capacity to try so many new beers and keep enjoying the old ones. Since I've joined Ratebeer, with very few exceptions, my beer drinking has been focused on beers I can rate. And consequently, I'm closing in on 5000 ratings, and am one of the top raters at Ratebeer. But now, I'm ready to rate less and return to some of my favorites more, especially now that I have such an enormous list of favorites.

Last night, Tom, Gary, and I were supposed to go to a "Wet Hop" beer tasting, but it unfortunately was canceled (a wet hop beer uses moist hops straight off the vines, whereas most beers use hops that are first dried, and sometimes even reduced to pellet form). So instead, we went to the Brickskeller, and I got to serve as the beer "sommelier" for a flight of hoppy beers.* We started off with a couple of pints of Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale, a long-time favorite of mine. Harvest Ale is the most readily available wet hop beer, and in fact, one of the only wet hop beers that makes it off the West Coast (outside of special tastings). It's one of my favorite seasonal beers, and it isn't bottled, so there's only a month or so that I can get it. Next up was another hoppy beer, Victory Hop Wallop, which has a bitterness that blows away the Harvest Ale. We finished with Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA (Simcoe is a hop varietal), which has enough hoppiness to overcome the light coating of resin that had formed on our hop-addled tongues. These are all beers I love (I've given each of these beers a rating of at least 4), and it was great to enjoy them rather than pick out beers I wouldn't like as much, or to analyze them for rating purposes.

I still plan on rating beers, because wonderful beers are being introduced all the time, and because I'll travel to places where I can try beers I've never had. It's just that rather than rate 9 out of every 10 beers I drink, I expect it'll be closer to 3 out of every 10. At this point, it seems like a better balance.

* -- Some of you may be asking what I was doing going out while poor Kathy had to stay home with the baby. Kathy wasn't left alone -- her folks are in town. FWIW, I've encouraged her to leave me with Emelia right after a feeding, so she can get out some, but so far she's declined.