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Friday, 3 January 2014

The Session #83 - Against the Grain


This is my first time blogging as part of The Session (Beer Blogging Friday) - I sincerely hope no one minds me joining in.

The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic. Each month, a different beer blogger hosts the Session, this month it's the turn of Rebecca from The Bake and Brew and the question posed is this: How much is our taste or opinion of a craft beer affected by what friends and the craft beer community at large thinks? What beer do you love that no one else seems to get? Or what beer do you say “no thanks” to that everyone can’t get enough of?

I often find myself disappointed by beers that the beery Twittersphere seem to be going mad for.  Generally this isn't because they're not good, but because I tend to assume that if all these other people (many of whom I have a lot of admiration for) are raving about a beer then it must be better than good, great, amazing and in my mind the beer gets built up to be this pinnacle of wonderfulness.  Living in the sticks it's often difficult to get to try new beers and by the time I've planned a trip to Norwich or London, found somewhere with said beer on and (often) paid a hefty price for it, it's got to deliver.  Unfortunately, more often than not, I'm left thinking "All that? For this?"  Don't get me wrong, the beer is often good, but compared to what I've imagined it's fallen short.

The beers I enjoyed most in 2013 were ones that I'd never heard of.  The beers that I discovered on my own and formed my own opinions about, rather than having other peoples views already on my mind.  After a year of drinking lots of different, interesting beers, the ones that stand out are not the ones I went searching for, but the nice surprises along the way.  My first glass of Moor Brewery Nor'Hop - tried on the off chance at Tuckers Maltings Beer Festival when I hadn't heard of the beer or brewery and now one of my favourite beers; Magic Rock Salty Kiss at The Sheffield Tap, a venture into the unknown - salty?! - before everyone started talking about it and probably my most memorable beer of 2013; Spingo Middle by Blue Anchor, another new beer and brewery to me (and a beer I was wary about having had many micro brewery disappointments), and it was delicious.  

It's probably not that these beers are better, but just that they have nothing to live up to and can therefore shine in their own right.  Would I have enjoyed the Spingo as much if I'd gone looking for it?  Would I have tried it at all if other people had given it bad reviews?  Probably not.  Maybe it's the adventure and joy of discovery that's the best bit?


  1. Good to have you for your first Session! Look forward to your future contributions.

    You hit on a similar theme that I wrote about:

    Our subjective tastes and preferences are what makes our palates special - and our beer selections, too. Finding that unexpected beer that really changes our POV is great, everyone else be damned!

  2. Thanks Bryan. I really enjoyed my first Session experience and am looking forward to the next one. Perhaps our trains of thought will cross again?