Now if you told me I'd begin last year trying beers akin to hazy hop soup and flavoured like Monster Munch, I'd have cried "hotchpotch, I'm a stout girl, I like my beers full of roasted malts, sweet chocolate, bitter coffee and gooey dates, and besides who wants a beer that tastes like onion anyway ... weirdos". But 2017 saw many changes, and was all about trying new things.
I began my beery journey around 5 years ago when I met my partner. When he'd ask me to order for him I would taste the beers, always picking the one I disliked most (trying to hide my repulsed face from the bar staff), if it tasted like I was eating a dewy meadow I knew he'd love it. The more beers I tried at bars, trying to pick things for my partner, the more my palate developed. Beginning with overtly sweet stouts and porters, finally finding beers that I could drink alongside him when we visited the pub was something to relish, it opened up new venues and places for us to venture.
I was content with the darker styles for several years. Yet when we find solace in the safety of what we know we can also become stuck in a rut. Last year was all change, moving from the city to the country and from working in jewellery to beer. My change in career has opened me up to trying beers that I had long discounted, but this time it was with a more refined palate.
I'd felt like a voyeur on forums, not knowing enough to comment without fear of ridicule (I might enjoy pastry beers from time to time, please don't smash me). If like me you have been on the periphery of the beer world, I'd suggest you stop dilly-dallying and jump in. After years of wondering what all the fuss was about and feeling like I couldn't appreciate or understand, well I tried my first lambic beers. I enjoyed and even began to seek out the most sour of beers, the sort that pucker your lips and make you feel like you have been rubbing Haribo Tangfastic sugar into your gums.
If my 2017 was to be defined by mind opening and palate enriching beers it would be the below.
Modern Times: Mega Blazing World - this air-freighted beauty made me appreciate the nuance and majesty of a hop laden beer.
Crooked Stave: Nightmare On Brett Raspberry - tart, sharp, jammy sweet and bone dry. It's so good and delicious, if I see a bottle I must have it for the cellar (yes this year I have bought so much beer I now have a cellar/cupboard), because of this I shall die a pauper and everyone will have a jolly old time drinking it at my funeral.
Jackie Os: Oil of Aphrodite Coffee Bourbon Barrel Aged - the unctuous body is laden with sumptuously dark flavours, the nuttiness from real walnuts and a hefty kick of booze, it's a serious upgrade from Omnipollo's Noa, but hey I'll confess I still have a fondness for Noa too.
Owa Brewery:Yuzu Lambic -sharp and clean, I dream of drinking this alongside sashimi. In fact I might spend the whole of January doing so as part of a new clean eating phase.
I think the beer world can forget how exclusive a club it can appear at times, and that we need to invite people to try things, it's OK not to like it all. Those of you who began as Thornbridge and Dark Star drinkers 10 years ago are now replaced with a new more can and keg orientated generation, led by Beavertown, Magic Rock and Cloudwater. My advice for those who wish to expand their horizons and leave the dwellings of their beer comfort zones in 2018 would be to just try it. Heck everything you try you might not like it first time round, but keep trying new things, it may well grow on you. Talk to people, a lot of these beery folk are friendlier than you think, go to tastings, do awful things like put a splash of prosecco and a dash of cherry wine in your stout. What does it really matter … at the end of the day it's just beer, and as long as you enjoy it with friends or make new ones that's alright with me. So, make 2018 the year that you try new beer, from new breweries with new friends!
Cheers to adventures in beer and beer fuelled adventures.