Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A New Beer Tasting Club

A funny thing happened at work the other day. I work in an office where most of the folks are fairly laid back, and there is a definite enjoyment of beer. Most of the time the beer appreciation involves drinking “Taiwan Gold Medal” or in Shunde China drinking Tsingtao while on business trips. There is also an old soda bottle machine in the office that dispenses bottles of beer for $.75, and the number one seller is Heineken.

However, one of my friends who enjoys a wide variety of beers began trying several Belgium style beers. It could be that a good beer bar opened up a few blocks away from our office. They have Grimbergen Dubbel, Goose Island Matilda, La Fin Du Monde, among others. And they rotate stock the tap often. He was telling me of the quest to buy some Grimbergen from Sam’s Wines and Spirits. He had made a special order and gotten a great deal. When he went to pickup the special orders, he grabbed a few more beers.

We were discussing what he liked and didn’t like from recent purchases. We then decided to bring a few of our favorite beers to the office and try them. Another friend overheard and wanted to participate as well. We laid down the three rules: Meet at 5:01 by my desk, bring a 750ml or equivalent of beer, and bring a clean glass. From Monday to Wednesday morning the group had grown to about 6 folks. Each participant brought in their contribution and lined it up along the window sill to chill for the evening. By 5:01 we had a great list of beers and a dozen tasters. The beers fell all in a Belgian style and there were no repeats: Delirium Tremens, Delirium Nocturnum, Delirium Noel, Rochefort 8, Trader Joes 2008 Vintage Ale, La Fin Du Monde, and Avery’s Salvation.

It was casual and we had no tasting guidelines other than talk about the smells and flavors we perceived, and what characteristic each of us preferred. The beer flowed quickly, with only some spring water, cashews, and pretzels to separate the beers. We had lined up the beers from what we thought was the maltiest to the spiciest/hoppiest. By the time we had opened the last beer, the Noel, there was a lot of numb tongue. Also, the Noel was surprisingly not the spiciest beer of the batch, so it was a bit lost. I did take a 15 minute break and drank my last glass to get a better appreciation.

The tasting was a nice way to talk beer with a group of folks I work with everyday. The choices and opinions were nice to share, and after we convinced a few of the folks it wasn’t a taste competition, it was very open and inviting.

A tasting is a good way to try several new beers, for the price of one. Keep the food and water handy, keep the opinions about how the beer tastes, and keep everything casual. It is a great way to allow some folks who are new to beer to try beers they would never buy themselves, and they may come back the next time. We unofficially chose Belgian styles, which kept the decision on what to bring a little easier. Holiday and Winter beers may be a good style to try at a tasting. Our next tasting will be in January 2009, think STOUT.

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