Wednesday, April 4, 2012

When it comes to beer, context matters

Some people assume I'm a beer snob. That's not true. Not only do I not judge people based on what they drink, as beer snobs are wont to do, I'm as capable of enjoying a cheap, easy-drinking beer as I am a huge barrel-aged imperial stout ... it just depends on the context.

My beer tastes ebb and flow with the seasons. Though I usually demand good beer and will gladly go without rather than drink something I don't want, in many ways my enjoyment of a beer depends on context. The weather, the meal, the situation, whether or not I'm throwing horseshoes, etc. These things make a difference.

No question that I think a finely crafted beer is almost always the right choice -- I've been happily supporting American craft beers for about 18 years now -- but to be honest, despite my love for top-shelf beer sometimes a cheap light lager is the exact perfect beer for an occasion. Some beers really are meant for a given season or a given situation. While many people enjoy a particular beer anytime anywhere, insisting the One Beer I Like is right anytime, me personally, all that "context" stuff has a big impact. I believe in the right beer for the right circumstances.

It's why one evening I may sip on an 11% barrel aged imperial stout and know there could be no other beer but that one that evening, and on another I might be tossing a frisbee on a beach while downing shitty Mexican lager with lime and be totally happy with my choice. And there is no shame in that.

Context is everything. Reverse those two beers in those two situations, drink that big stout on a hot beach or sip that Corona over a fine cigar, and neither would sit right with me.

I wouldn't claim that easy-drinking light lager is a Good Beer, mind you, because it's not, but I would claim that for me it is a satisfying beer in the right situation. And no, I also wouldn't claim that every beer is good if only you can find the right situation. Some beers just plain suck. (Piels, I'm looking at you.) I'm just saying that context matters.

And beer is nice.

So pour me a beer.

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