For the past year I’ve been on a massive hop bender. I have literally just wanted to drink as many hops as possible, stuffed as aggressively as possible into any beer I could find. It virtually got to the point where I had to refuse anything under 100 IBUs because it wasn’t bitter enough. But things are changing now and I’m starting to crave sours.
I notice it most when I’m out drinking and I’ll get to a point where I just need something sharp and different to kick my tastebuds back into shape. Sour beers can be remarkably good at drawing a line under what’s gone before and getting you ready for the next beer. They are also damn tasty. My love for them is in their woody-oaky, near-savoury quality, in the sprightly lift, the puckering finish, and in a certain mystery which they hold. I also find them Romantic, harking back to an old age of brewing when most beer would’ve been fermented with these wild yeasts.
Side-stepping on from this, in a round-a-bout way, I think there’s a natural progression to beer drinking, which I’ve noticed recently. I think it goes like this: lager, ale, dark ale, strong ale, imperial stout, big IPAs, sours, session beer and lager. It’s a scale from early drinking upwards, moving through levels of appreciation and thirst and almost finishing full circle. This is certainly how my taste has developed and I know that others, particularly in the UK where beer is based around the pub, have followed a similar track. There’s always that first beer which moves you on, the first pint of cask ale, then the dark beer that’s fruity and full bodied, then you risk a stronger beer, maybe a bottle of something Belgian, then you see the imperial stouts, then you discover hops and then sours… and so on. Each level is a progression from the next until a fuller appreciation of the simple things is reached.
Has anyone else noticed this? What has your progression been? Where are you now?
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