July 28, 2009

Continually Evolving

Recently I was asked to provide tasting notes on various beers I've mentioned. Its a fair request but philosophically Baltimore Beer Guy is trending away from that for various reasons.

One, I'm no expert. Although I have opinions about beers, mine may not necessarily make all that much sense or sound vague to more developed palates. Speaking broadly no two people have the same impression on any beer. Speaking narrowly my impression doesn't matter all that much.

I think generally people have an idea what they're drinking, and expertise and understanding is gained not from reading others' sentiments but experiencing on one's own (plus there's the enjoyment factor). Now, there's nothing wrong with advance work and that is something I try to do in boning up on a new beer or a style I haven't tried yet.

In the absence of offering a bunch of tasting notes on here, I will say my general suggestion for those seeking more specifics about a particular beer or style is to use the popular tools out there like the reviews at Beer Advocate and Rate Beer. I definitely do this on my own, seeking out reviewers whose tastes seem to dovetail with mine. Additionally, I look for repetitive trends -- people saying the same thing about a particular beer as a guide for what to expect and reference when it comes time to try a particular brew.

Plus, there's that ever-expanding mental library of flavors and beers that comes from my heavy tasting over the years that is hard to put into words.

Again, experience comes in handy. It may not make sense until you've had a few examples (and then some) from a particular style how vast of a gap there is between say Avery's Maharaja as a Double IPA and Clipper City's newly released, sickly sweet Big DIPA. Others may quibble but I found these two to be divergent interpretations of the same darn style and it has to do with the malt and sweetness and approach to hop flavoring that isn't easily explained by a layperson like myself.

In the meantime I'm more than happy to offer thoughts if asked and will continue to offer opinions where I see fit, but yeah, not everything's necessarily going to get much in the way of tasting notes.


Brandon Miller - Milhouse44 said...

I agree that you can not put too much weight on other people’s palates. I am BJCP Judge and when I get together with other people that ‘know beer', everyone will have a different opinion on the same beer. As a terrible example I once heard: If I don’t like chocolate you probably won’t get much out of my review of a German Chocolate Cake.
Confusing beer drinkers further, in the present climate of beer a lot of beer style lines are being blurred by commercial interpretation. Make-Believe Imperial styles are still popping up everywhere.
Just keeping up on what’s going on and were to find good beers in town is enough. Just keep doing what you do, you can leave the tasting notes to The Ratebeer and Beeradvocate clowns.

stevejones said...

I agree. I don't find it particularly useful to read someone's views when their palate is obviously different to mine. I would rather you provide the basic specs of the beer if available (original gravity, a.b.v. and a general reference to color) and make up my own mind. Funny that you should mention CC's Big DIPA ... I tried it at Frisco ... it left me "puzzled"!?

Christian said...

i think it's OK to give some very general notes (sweet, hoppy, dry, etc.), as most people will probably agree on these fundamental things. but the ratings on Beer Advocate, for example, are a bit over the top. "a kiss of dried plum skin"? what the hell does that even mean?