Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Revisiting beers and changing tastes

Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial PorterBeer blogging is a fun pastime and hobby. It's been just over 6 months since I started getting into the exploration of craft beers. Looking back, my tastes in craft beers were very narrowly focused back then. I used to limit myself to Fat Tire, a local Honey Brown, and the occasional dark beer. There were some styles that I just didn't appreciate and hadn't acquired a taste for. IPAs were one of them. I wanted to understand why so many beer lovers liked IPAs.

Several friends on an online beer forum told me that you just have to keep trying IPAs before you come to love them. That's exactly what I did. But it wasn't until I had tried several dozen other beer styles that I started to notice what wide range of tastes there were out there. Bitterness was something I use to avoid in a beer, but now I've come to enjoy the taste and aroma of a good hoppy beer.

Back in October, I picked up a sampler pack of Flying Dog ales. This was one of the first sampler packs I had picked up at the store and was wanting to try several different styles. Some of them I admittedly had never tasted before. I tried each of the beers and surprisingly, I wasn't quite ready to enjoy some of these beers and felt I should revisit them again later on. Little did I know that you can't really judge a style of beer until you've tried many of the same style as well as dozens of other styles. My taste buds were simply not trained yet. It took me 6 months to realize my mistake.

A couple of months ago I picked up yet another Flying Dog beer, their Gonzo Imperial Porter and reviewed it. I tried it but was shocked by the intense hop sensation and aroma that came with it. The thought occurred to me to stick some of these beers in the cellar and let them age a bit more. Yesterday, two months later, I pulled out another Gonzo and chilled it down a bit and tried it again. Wow. Was this the same beer? This tasted a lot different than what I remembered. Gone was the overpowering aroma. The hop bite had mellowed a bit after just two months. This beer was actually a whole lot better.

So I wondered. What was the difference between the Gonzo I tried back in March versus the Gonzo I tried last night? Was it the temperature of the beer? Perhaps. Had the hops been neutralized a bit after two months? A possibility. Had my tastes changed? Maybe.

The bottle of Gonzo Imperial Porter had been sitting un-chilled in a dark corner of my basement at a constant 64 degrees. I may have previously tried this beer at room temperature during my 1st sampling. Porters and Stouts tend to bring out more flavor and aroma as it warms. The sample from last night had been put into the freezer and chilled for about 10 minutes. It hadn't gotten that cold yet when I opened it up. This time, the aroma had been subdued quite a bit, which for me made all the difference in the world. Quick chilling may have something to do with this.

My tastes could have also been altered during the last two months. This has probably been the most busiest two month of beer drinking that I've had since I started. I've made a break-thru and started enjoying IPAs during the last month or so. I've tried many more bitter and stronger IBU beers also in that time. So perhaps my tongue had gotten used to the more intense hops and flavors.

Perhaps those are the reasons for liking the Flying Dog Gonzo so much more last night than I had previously. I went back and updated the review on that beer and gave it a more respectable rating. This makes me want to go back and re-review several more of my beers now. Again, I question my current beer ranking system. The numbers don't really relate the entire experience when drinking a beer. So perhaps I should simply throw out the numbers and make things easier.

I've been trying to drink so many different beers as of late but have failed to go back and retry any beers in 6 months. Perhaps some of my old favorites will now seem a bit more bland. Who knows. Anyone else have changes of heart of beers that you've previously dismissed? If so, what was the difference in your mind that changed your opinion? I'd love to hear other opinions on this.

Related articles:
- Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter review.
- North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout review.
- North Coast Old Stock Ale 2008 review.

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