Beer, one of life’s simple pleasures…….

Posted on September 10, 2009


I work for a big corporate brewer* and lots of time and money has been invested in teaching me to appreciate beer. I’ve been lucky enough to learn under the very gentlemanly Rupert Ponsonby and Alex Barlow but not everyone gets this chance and I wonder how many women are put of trying beer because they think they don’t know enough about it.
I didn’t always like beer – I learnt over time (and happily have always had jobs that let me do that). I started when I worked for Bass Retail drinking Tennants Pilsner and then migrated onto pints of Carling Premier & Blackcurrant – I was obviously much younger and had less class. I like a pilsner best these days, Zatec is my favourite but Bitburger and Menebrea are close followers but I’m broad church and enjoy an ale or a porter just as much – it’s all about choice.
Tasting beer should be easy and it should be enjoyable and whilst I don’t want to trivialise beer tasting I don’t think it should be seen as a dark art – I really don’t believe in getting women to try the most bitter, chewy ales and then watching them struggle to drink it, then tell them why they are wrong!!
So you can find some great lessons on how to taste beer here and here  but the way I do it is this……….
1. Pick a beer that looks interesting – this is often the difficult bit. Supermarket beer aisles are, mainly, ugly and look like dirty warehouses and have very little information about different beers so you might have to work a bit harder to find something that looks worth a try. Try online sites like Beers of Europe or BEERMerchants , they are both very good and have heaps of choice. By interesting I go for the one that
catches my eye with the nicest label – I’m simple like that, and I want it to look nice in the kitchen.
2. Taste it – if it tastes nice this is called a ‘good beer’. When you find a good beer keep drinking it and maybe try it with some food.
3. If it doesn’t taste nice this is called a ‘bad beer’**. When you find a bad beer stop drinking it and repeat step 1.
The key thing is don’t be put off if you go straight to point 3 – you may do this a few times before you find a beer you really like and that’s the fun bit. There are over 3000 beer brands in the UK, you will find one you like and what a great time you can have getting there!!
*blatant corporate plug – I work for the BitterSweet Partnership which has been set up by Molson Coors to address the fact that the UK beer industry has traditionally ignored women and to get more women in the UK to enjoy beer! We’re working on everything from dispelling the same myths about calorie content, to addressing stereotypical and sexist advertising. This is my own blog though – not a corporate front and all views or my own but I am proud of what I do. There is a BitterSweet blog too though if you’re interested in what we say there.
**this does not mean the beer is bad, just bad for you. Enjoying beer is one of life’s simple pleasures and there’s nothing to be gained from forcing yourself to drink something you don’t like just because everyone else says it’s good.
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