There’s something about living in the Pacific Northwest that draws one to the craft beer scene. It could be the comfort we find inside our local tap house on a rainy night, or perhaps it’s the plentiful hop farms. Maybe there really is something in the water that goes into brewing the numerous local microbrews. Needless to say, a born and raised Oregonian, like myself, knows there’s something special about sipping a pint from your favorite brewery.
Although I have only been enjoying beer for a few short years, I have grown to love and appreciate the craft. I started in college with stealing tastes of friend’s homebrews to finally, with plenty of trial and error, home brewing myself. When I worked in the tasting room at Oakshire Brewing here in Eugene, I learned as much from the brewers as I did from the regulars who gladly shared their own homebrew recipes with our small staff.
Before working in the beer-industry, I knew I enjoyed the delicious combination of hops and malts, but I didn’t realize how much I loved TALKING about it. And when you work in a tasting room, you end up talking about beer – a lot. What’s more, I’ve come to love tasting, sharing and analyzing what I’ve learned with others.
Beer tasting is similar to wine; it’s an experience. The act of enjoying a well-crafted beer involves all the senses. First look at the appearance and color. How carbonated is it? Does it look cloudy or clear? Next swirl the beer as you would wine and enjoy the aroma. Beer aromas can be incredibly complex and thoroughly pleasing. Finally, the part you’ve been waiting for, tasting the beer. Notice the mouth-feel. Is it watery or full-bodied? Compare the balance of sweetness and bitterness. Unlike wine, swallow the beer, as the aftertaste is just as important. When the beer warms or ages, you’ll notice different aromas and flavors come through. Tasting beer isn’t about chugging the most steins (although I’ve had my fair share of Oktoberfest nights), or finding the beer with the highest ABV (alcohol content) or IBUs (International Bittering Units aka general “hoppiness”). It’s about developing your own personal tastes and learning what to look for in a beer. And, if a girl like me can fall this in love with beer, I think you can, too.
I’m here to convince you that there’s a craft in craft beer, that every style deserves recognition, and that if you think you don’t like beer you just probably haven’t tried the right style. It doesn’t matter if you’re already a microbrew evangelist or just dipping in for the first time, I think we’ll enjoy each other’s company. I’m always looking for the next new brew, and hope to share what I find with you. From American lagers to Scottish ales- you name it, and I’ll drink it! Welcome to my weekly beer column, Hopped Up Eugene!
Hopped Up Eugene will be published weekly, on Wednesdays, in conjunction with the popular, Wine Down Eugene.