There is a tendency on the part of beer adventurers to turn up the nose at anything that isn’t new, big, unusual, or rare from breweries. Sure, an imperial saison spiced with goodies harvested by virgins on a 10-acre Belgian unicorn ranch and brewed with instructions found in Nordic caves sounds worth trying.
But doesn’t a really well-made pale ale from the local brew pub sound good too?
In the quest for rarity and taste adventures it is easy to forget about the beers that brought us to love craft-brewed beer in the first place. Wits, hefeweizens, pale ales, brown ales, the ubiquitous and poorly defined (yet often tasty) red and amber ales, stouts and sometimes the overlooked blonde ales and lagers all have their place.
To go a week without one of these, particularly from a quality local producer, is like giving up on a cherished burger and fries from your favorite joint simply because you’ve had them before. Even doctor’s orders couldn’t keep you away.
So why do we abandon good offerings of now “ordinary” styles of beer? It could be said that the Irish, the English, and the Germans, to name a few traditional brewing countries, aren’t terribly adventurous when it comes to beer. But the fact is that they are still making some of the best beer in the world and are proud to drink pint after pint, day after day.
While my personal quest for the inspired creations of brewers has taken me boldly where no drinker has gone before, I frequently leave a brewpub with a half-gallon growler jug of a traditional stout, pale ale, porter, or IPA that they have made well again and again for home consumption.
The same is true in the grocery aisle. Even with no glitteringly new offerings at hand, there is a satisfaction in taking home old friends such as Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Samuel Adams Boston Lager, Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse Dunkel, Chimay Red, or Alamo Golden Ale.
Sometimes the adventure is in the rediscovery or even noticing if the brewer made an ingredient change that you picked up on in a beer you’ve been drinking for a decade. Never settle for mediocre, but never forget the tried and true.
Tell Bottle & Tap about your favorite beers and why they keep you coming back by sending a message and your full name to the e-mail at the end of the column.
The 12th annual Learn to Homebrew Day is coming up November 5 with two San Antonio events. The Bexar Brewers will be outside Blue Star Brewing Co. with demonstrations. And the San Antonio Cerveceros will be at Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for tutoring and other hobby-related events.
Travis E. Poling is beer writer for the Current, conducts tutored tastings, beer knowledge training, and is author of Beer Across Texas: A Guide to Brews and Brewmasters of the Lone Star State. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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