Lately, we have become aware of an Achilles’ heel in our attempts to think and write about how beer tastes, as opposed to its history and the culture that surrounds it.
On the rare occasions we declare a beer to be downright bad, off or wrong, we find ourselves pressed to be more specific — to describe what we’re tasting in the technical terms brewers use amongst themselves.
We’re not Heriot-Watt graduates and have never even been on a short course. Anything we have learned has been from books. It’s hard to beat words as a means of conveying sensory experiences, but even they can’t compete with experience.
We know quite a lot of the terminology and apply it, but not with great confidence. We get corrected a lot. (Corrected? On the internet!?) Our lack of confidence means we have to bow to those corrections even when, as if often the case, we secretly think we’re right.
Perhaps we’ve resisted getting technical to an extent: knowing the language doesn’t always mean a lot, and we’ve more than once been cornered by bores who know all the jargon and yet seem happy to drink pints that have turned us green with nausea.
And, insofar as we enjoy reading other people’s beer reviews, it’s those with evocative prose rather than the ones that resemble feedback sheets from a home brewing competition.
Anyway, we’re doing something about it now: we’ve just splashed £90 on an ‘off flavours’ kit from Aroxa.
That’s £90 — enough for a case of very decent beer — for some pills that will make our beer taste nasty. The things we do in the name of blogging…