Monday, April 11, 2011

How to Spot A Decent Brewskie by Dominic Foffani

There are certain topics that are hard to master. Indeed, things that are not normally taught in school. So who to ask when totally clueless about, in this case, beer? Dom, of course!

Spotting a Decent Brewskie.

Possibly the greatest challenge of a frequent beer drinker (like myself) is to tell you what a great beer is. It’s true that we all have phases – TED’s to Budweiser, Hahn SuperDry to VB on tap – that we immediately shout at you to have (so we can split a case at parties). A common question would be “Should I have an ale, or a lager?” and the fundamental answer is “you should have a beer!” because the only difference between all ales and all lagers is the fermentation process and does not generally account for the overall drinkability of either one. Beer is such a subjective beverage and the concept of ‘a great beer’ overall comes down to a great many things;

1. How pissed you are at the time – to paraphrase Danny Bhoy, we are so pedantic about what we drink at the start of the night – “I’ll have white wine – but not a chardonnay, no I will not drink a chardonnay”, but by the end of the night we scrape together whatever the hell we can find, becoming our own cocktail bartender – “...anyone up for some Gin and Chocolate milk?” obviously, our state of sobriety (or lack of) influences what we prefer to drink, the specific type of beer you have been sitting on for a few rounds might change pretty quickly – “alright fellas, beer, beer, beer, beer...” “actually mate, I’ll have a Gin and Chocolate milk”

2. The Pour – the presentation of a beer, especially one that is poured in front of you, is paramount to your experience. I regret to inform establishments that holding the glass on an angle and ‘overpouring’ is utterly unattractive – that is, pouring in the glass relentlessly until there is an acceptable Head (frothy white foam) with beer flowing over the top of the glass and into the tray (also making your glass wet and slippery – not that it affects the beer itself too much). There are two very acceptable methods of pouring: The Half Pour – when the glass is held at an angle and is poured into until the head is three-quarters up the glass, left to sit as to reduce the head, then topped up with a nicely raised head; and The Long Pour – glass held at an angle and poured into while tender moves the glass up and down until a nicely raised head. by most standards, an optimum head is 10 - 15mm. (but by no means should you get out your ruler and measure it)

3. The Size – people handle different drinking climates in different ways and these all affect the overall beverage. If you are a slow drinker regardless of the weather, your beer will turn hot before you get down to the bottom half (which makes for a horrible experience), so instead of the typical schooner (425ml), why not try something a tad smaller? a Middy (285ml), Seven (200ml) or Pony (140ml), perhaps? The only way to know what size you should drink is by responsibly experimenting – obviously your beer will get hotter faster in a warmer climate. There is no use in paying for a beer that is a chore to drink. Waste of money, waste of time and more importantly, a waste of beer!

4. The Temperature – no-one in their right mind enjoys a luke warm beer on a hot summers day (taking into account that the UK haven’t had a hot summer day since the heat wave of 1620). When you get a hold of your beer, you should be able to feel the frost of the golden liquid shoot up your hand (or hands, if you’re a legend). When you take your first sip you should feel that 7 second rush to your stomach with a cool sensation, followed by an audibly appreciative ‘AHH!’

5. The Colour – understandably, the colour of the beer in front of you has to be attractive to you. Be it a deep golden brown, or a bright pale. (though if the beer is a deep green and it’s not St. Patties Day – best to stay away)

6. The Taste – again, this is entirely subjective. The taste of a beer can (very) loosely be gauged by the colour of it. The darker the colour, the more bitter the beer is. As well as colour, the taste also takes into account the texture of the beer in your palette and the aroma (though, don’t go around sniffing your beer like a wine connoisseur and a Penfolds Grange Magnum 1979)

7. Drinkability and Enjoyability – when drinking beer, one must experience the entirety of the glass (to be able to fully appreciate the glory of beer), which I tend to break into 3 parts: The Pick-Up Line, The Dance and The Good Night Kiss. The Pick-Up Line - The initial sip of a beer is the first impression that determines how enthusiastic you are about the rest of the beer in front of you. It has to be fresh, punctual and elegant with a certain panache. The Dance – when The Pick-Up Line is swirling around in your head and conscious action must be made. Should we nurse this beauty (waltz), or slam it down fast (fist pump like a champ). Two left feet will not be tolerated. The Good Night Kiss – if you go too hard with the dance, there usually isn’t a Good Night Kiss waiting for you, so then you must decide either to leave the establishment or try another pick up line! But if you’ve done well, the rest of the beer will leave your mouth wanting more, so you usually get the beer’s number (brand) and have another encounter (or find out she’s a psychopath and get your friends to fake your death)

8. The Disclaimer - Enjoy Responsibly (yes, I had to say it). Basically, Beer Fans, try as many pick up lines you can, observe how it’s poured and see if there is a difference between your favourite brew in a bottle, can or on tap (there is!)

Have fun,
Dominic Foffani ☺

1 comment:

  1. I do recall the excellent draft conversation very well :) Yay, now Dom's wisdom is out there on the world beer and literary stage, hoorah!