So, I’m working on a new book. It has no title yet, so I’m simply calling it The Beer Book. In it, I have a main character who works for a small, family-owned craft brewery and another who doesn’t know the first thing about, nor has she ever liked, beer.
Fun fact: I don’t know much about beer, nor have I ever liked beer.
Yeah, this should be fun.
Like any good author worth her salt, I realized that a boatload of research was going to be in order if I expect to pull this off. Dogs, I can write about. Wine? I know my stuff. Laundry? I got this. But beer? I’m lost. So, I Googled “craft beer for beginners” and found dozens of websites and blogs to help me understand not only the process of making beer, but how to taste it. Who knew that tasting beer was similar to tasting wine? That you look at color, smell, head, all kinds of things in addition to taste? I do now!
As I researched, I realized there is really only one good way to write this beer novice authentically: I would need to actually take her journey. So, I’ve begun, and I’m going to blog about it so you can come with me. (And let me add a side note here: my wife is a huge fan of beer. Huge. It’s her favorite thing in the world and she tries all different kinds. She is over the moon that I’m actually drinking beer, so bonus!)
One of the beer blogs I read suggested starting with light beer. Not light in calories, but light in color. Wheat beer, Hefeweisen, pilsner, and such. A lot of the lighter colored beers are also brewed with fruit, which helps a newbie like me ease in. Some lighter beers have less hops as well and more malt. Since hops is what makes beer bitter (blech) and malt is what makes it sweeter (yay), it made sense for me to start there.
In New York, we can buy our beer in the supermarket, and Wegmans has a huge cooler case of various craft beers for you to create your own 6-pack. So I did that. I picked four beers for me to try and then two for Bonnie because, come on, let’s not get carried away. I have never liked beer, so why risk wasting six beers when you can risk wasting four instead? I bought a Sam Adams cherry wheat, a Blue Moon (at the insistence of three of my friends), a winter Shandy, and a pilsner.
Want to hear something weird?
I actually liked three of the four. Liked them. Beer. (The pilsner was a no-go. Blech.)
I do know what part of my issue is. Bonnie, being a longtime beer connoisseur, has very developed tastes. That’s fancy code for saying she likes the really bitter, hoppy stuff. She is an India Pale Ale fan. It’s her favorite in the whole world. I hate it. Hate. It. It’s horrible stuff. And since I’ve been with her for twenty years, whenever I venture to try a sip of beer, it’s inevitably an IPA. And I make a face and want to wipe off my tongue like Tom Hanks in Big when he ate the caviar. Most of the blogs for beginners say to stay far away from IPAs at first, unless you want to blow your tongue out of your mouth. Sound advice, thank you. I’d like to keep my tongue. They say I can work up to IPAs and may eventually like them, but I’m not optimistic about that.
I have since tasted a few other beers. It’s almost December, so everybody has their winter seasonal beer out and that’s been helpful to me. Blue Moon has a Cinnamon Horchata Ale that I really liked. Their Gingerbread Spice wasn’t as good, but that’s okay. My overall favorite so far has been the Sam Adams Cherry Wheat, with the Blue Moon Cinnamon Horchata Ale a close second. The Winter Shandy (which was brewed with lemon peel and pomegranate) came in third.
I’ve only just begun on this interesting path, and I will try to blog about it as I go so you can tag along with me. Stay tuned for installment number two, which I’ll try to put up within the next two weeks. In the meantime, use the comment section to tell me about your own beer experiences, and feel free to give suggestions to this novice. And, go!