This article over at A Good Beer Blog provides an opportunity to remind us what a taste experience is all about.
Is a cracker not a cracker because it has garlic and onion powder in it?
Is a chip not a chip because it’s sprayed with a BBQ powder?
Is a steak not a steak because it is marinated?
I mean if we are going to rail against using flavoring additives in food, which beer essentially is, I have to wonder if we all should apply this principle across all types of food? Where’s does one stand on crackers, pizza, and hummus?
Sure, things can be taken too far but does that mean one calls for the absolute end of ideas? The important thing is the trial and error that creates opportunities for learning. I don’t know if you haven’t noticed but sit back and look at what’s going on on a larger scale…even beyond craft beer. We are in an age of “one-off” thinking. I speak of this reality here and how it is manifesting itself in craft beer.
Keep in mind that if you prefer more traditional experiences, anytime you go into a “non-traditional” situation you are entering it with a mind full of assumptions and prejudgments. Assumptions and judgment are absolute mind killers. They make you think up stuff to support the said assumption even if what you are using as support for your judgment is not even present. Yes, you want to be “right” so you make up stuff even if it actually is a detriment to yourself. You start telling yourself this beer is going to be bad before you take that first sip. “Yep, it’s bad.”
Remember back in school when you shut down in a certain class because the teacher gave you a grade you did not think you deserved? The assumption became he or she is “a bad teacher” so you stopped trying. You figured, “Why try?” You ended up with a grade below what you knew you were capable of didn’t you? Be aware of your assumptions and judgments and how they sway you before you even enter a situation or try to catch them before they do real damage. It’s not easy.
Now, flavoring of beer has done wonders for helping macro drinkers ease their way into higher quality and more flavorful taste experiences with beer. I have to wonder how big of a market craft beer would be without the experimentation with flavoring additives?
I take comfort in the evidence that most do not mind flavoring additives in beer. Where I beertend just about every keg of beer, of every flavor, kicks within a week. Young and old, they are all pushing their taste preference boundaries. Just in our little community there are enough craft beer consumers that like flavored beer enough to kick a keg within a week. It seems craft brewers may be onto something.
Perhaps some would argue that coffee never belongs in an IPA. I happened to find Mikkeller’s Koppi extremely beer-like even with the coffee. It tastes like an IPA with a hint of coffee. For me, it was a great new taste experience. But that’s just me.
And that’s my point. My taste is my taste and yours is yours. No one person can apply his/her taste preferences with a wide brush stroke across an entire population. If you don’t like something, go ahead and say so. Just make it clear that you are speaking from a personal preference. Definitely don’t go to the place where you think your taste preferences matter over all else and call for everyone else to join you.
And don’t admonish those who are trying to innovate just because you don’t happen to like what they are doing. The truest form of innovation should be unbound by constraints. Innovation is not a “one and done” concept, it is an evolution of an idea toward some ultimate expression. And then you keep going to ensure it has reached its ultimate expression.
Do you really wish for beer to become complacent again? Remember what that was like?