Beer Slobbery chronicles one man’s journey to 1,000 beers by way of Duckworth’s new HopMan Beer Club. Devon Heffer is fairly new to the craft beer scene, so he’ll undoubtedly be discovering some new beers on his journey. Find all of his past posts here.
Good news everybody!
This Duckworth’s Hopman Beer Club journey is starting to pay dividends. I’ve gotten a t-shirt out of the deal. That’s right! Guess who’s not a loser now!
The truth is the real reward is getting to try all these unique brews. And while I wouldn’t say my palate is “sophisticated,” it isn’t wearing an untucked wife-beater to the opera anymore. I had a Bud Light the other day and all I could taste was sugar. Beforehand all I could taste was Bud Light. That’s a win.
For anyone looking to drink along with me on this trip, or if you just want to really learn to appreciate your beer, I offer one piece of advice I haven’t yet heard from anybody. Chug.
Back in the 80’s flavor experts added a new taste to the roster. Umami would take its place among the sweet, sour, bitter and salty elite. Well I think chuggability is just as important to the beer drinking experience.
I know a lot of beer snobs and brewers out there have just snorted fine lambics all over their keyboards. Sorry folks.
Look. Enjoy the subtle array of shades and textures as it slips into your glass.
Smell. Get your nose right up in there and take a whiff of something ancient and worthwhile.
Taste. Close your eyes and really concentrate on the vast complexities a well-crafted brew offers from the instant it hits your lips to when you slide it down. The brewer worked very hard on this particular moment. Give them their due. But when you’re done appreciating:
Reason #1: We’ve trained ourselves to drink it that way. Most of our early experiences with beer come in the form of fast drinking on the sly to get as silly as possible as fast as possible. Sure it’s irresponsible, but you know what they say about old habits. They wear lampshades on their heads and mistake hallway closets for toilets.
Reason #2: Historically a lot of beer was actually designed to chug. These days we’re talking very smooth, low complexity pilsners and lagers (although I’ve had some pretty chuggable porters and stouts too). But back when the ground water was swimming with cholera people drank so-called “small beers” because the alcohol killed all the nasty pathogens. So quite literally whenever you were thirsty, you would reach for a beer. And when you’re thirsty, you chug. A little chugging certainly would’ve helped on the Oregon Trail.
Reason #3: It adds a new layer to the experience. Sight, smell and taste are all important, but how does it feel? Is the mouthfeel too fizzy to really get on top of? Is it too hoppy-harsh to swallow very fast? Does it hit your gut satisfyingly like a cold fist? Does the resulting belch allow you to relive the flavors you missed in your haste? Does everyone stop what they’re doing and stare at you? Does one lone hero start a slow applause? Does the entire room pick it up like you just crashed your bobsled? Are you carried out of the bar triumphantly on their shoulders? Are you deposited in a back alley? Do you wake up the next morning missing a tooth?
You would’ve missed all that if you didn’t chug.
Let’s drink some beer.
New Belgium Fat Tire (Fort Collins, CO) Amber Ale, ABV 5.2%: Regardless of how you feel about New Belgium’s influx into the Asheville region, it’s easy to see why this beer is a classic. I’m starting to realize what beer drinkers mean when they say “well balanced”. No one aspect overpowers the other. Not too hoppy. Not too malty. Not too heavy. Not too light. Fat Tire is all things to all people. It pours a light copper with quite a bit of carbonation. I get a slight pop of malt on the first swig, but it goes down quickly and unremarkably. Sort of a toasty finish.
Duckworth’s Grade: B My Grade: B
NoDa Hop, Drop ‘n Roll (Charlotte, NC) American IPA, ABV 7.2%: This is NoDa’s signature brew and it’s well worth the time. It’s a clear orange and it smells like a botanical garden. It tastes of citrus and love, but the hops are really the backbone here. It’s strong, but it doesn’t strip the enamel off your teeth. The carbonation lends it a medium body and it goes down clean.
Duckworth’s Grade: (ungraded) My Grade: B+
NoDa Weizen Up (Charlotte, NC) Hefeweizen, ABV 4.9%: It’s a beautiful-looking beer, like most Hefeweizens I’ve tried. It pours a gorgeous hazy gold. It’s light bready. It’s very tingly, owing mostly to the heavy carbonation. It’s hard to drink it too fast (hence, a low chuggability). I’m tasting banana on the back end. Delicious.
Duckworth’s Grade: (ungraded) My Grade: B+
Boon Kreik (Belgium) Lambic/Fruit Beer, ABV 5.0%: This stuff is Purplesaurus Rex. Everything about it is purple. It pours purple. The head is purple. It tastes purple. I’m pretty sure my tongue will be purple when I look at it in the mirror. It’s all berries and sugar and after about 2 swallows it starts to taste like cough syrup. Yet, it’s not without its charm. This is like something you give to Kim Kardashian on her 21st birthday. Don’t be surprised when you don’t get laid though.
Duckworth’s Grade: B My Grade: C