The brewing thoughts of an amateur beer-lover (part I)

by Tia on May 22, 2011

Being a beer connoisseur has long gone mainstream. Just like I do with wine, I tend to be completely satisfied with just loving it, without having to know all that much about it. After all, I hail from generations of vintners, who tended our small vineyard perched up high on the hilly right bank of Danube river and never once talked about the body, legs or other attributes of their home made wine. Surely, I could have taken a similar utilitarian approach and pronounced all self-proclaimed beer connoisseurs semi-snobs, then continued to simply drink and enjoy beer happily ever after. But those of you who truly know me know how pettily competitive I can be. Why should someone else be able to detect the dark fruits aroma in a fine glass of stout and not me? What if, because of not knowing beer can have “soapy head”, I was missing out on some rich part of the experience?

So, equipped with pints of energetic resolve and a recyclable shopping bag, I headed out to Foodie’s Duxbury  for some Island Creek Oyster Stout, which I deemed fit to play the important role of first subject in my zymurgical studies. Aside from having wanted to try this beer ever since I read about it, I figured a stout would be powerful and complex enough to allow even a novice like me to notice a few  nuances in taste and flavor.   

OK, without much further ado, here go my observations. Lots of foam (yes, I know it’s called “head”). Undisputable roasted coffee aroma. Maybe even espresso. Or is it caramel? It does seem to smell a little bit like ocean, salt and shellfish. Almost like what Duxbury Bay smells like at low tide. I could probably call it crisp. It’s light. Yes, definitely much lighter than I anticipated. Very drinkable and I like it, even though I expected something way more robust. Beer tasting mission accomplished.    

Now, time to check what the producer says about it. Hmm, they call the flavor briny. I can agree with this. They also mention chocolate. Could this be what to me tasted and smelled like coffee and caramel? I sure hope there is enough bone-fide pluralism in the world of beer to accommodate both my and the producer’s take on the taste and flavor.

Ha! The reviews on Beer Advocate have quite a few mentions of burned coffee! Maybe I was on to something.

This was fun. I may have to continue the series.

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