Friday, October 20, 2006

Have you any beer here?

Ever tried to order a glass of wine in a shot-and-a-beer joint? Ever gotten that blank stare before the bartender opened the refrigerator and blew the dust off a big old jug of generic white wine?

I've often thought that life would be easier if I could just learn to like beer.

It has a rich history, it's an art to brew, and there are so many styles and brands out their waiting to be sampled. All good reasons to like it.

So, along comes my friends' Oktoberfest party last weekend. Hmmm, I thought, this might be my chance.

My husband and I popped over to the local Binny's and checked out the selection. In a totally girly move, I bought the fruity beer with the fairy on the label: the black currant Unibroue Ephemere. My husband, long ago a convert, opted for a selection of Weiss beers.

We were at least an hour into the party before I eased the cork out of the bottle (see, it has a cork - a good sign - sort of like a sparkling wine - sorta) and poured a few inches into a cup. I took a sip. Not too strong. (Is it hops or barley that gives beer its strong flavor?) I took another sip. And a few more. A half-hour later I poured another inch. Yeah, I was nursing this drink, but I was drinking it. Beer. Me.

Then I sampled someone else's Leinenkugel Berry Weiss. Again not awful. Poured an inch of that into my cup. At about this point, though, my girlfriend (who had pulled out her Halloween costume a few weeks early and was dressed as a beer girl/St. Pauli girl) started to laugh at me.

"You keep making that face."

"What face?" I took another sip and concentrated on keeping my expression even.

"That face."

Around us, a group of guys were rating the different Weiss beers as they tried them. I took a sip from another friend's glass. Much stronger.

"Stop it," my girlfriend laughed. "There's that face again."

I took another sip just to prove I was trying.

That sip was near the end of my beer-tasting adventure that night. Not horrible. But my thirst had fled.

I can't say that I left that party with an appreciation for beer, but I did leave with a hilarious pair of beer goggles in my possession. My husband won them in the beer trivia contest. And me, the non-beer drinker, I managed to place third. Of course, being the only person to come close to the correct answer on the bonus question helped.
What's your host's favorite type of beer?

Correct answer: "The next one"
My answer: "Any"
And the banoffee pie I mentioned last week? It went over well. Our host served it with a pumpkin ale. (Beer tasting note: Others seemed to like it, but it earned a big beer-grimace face from me.)

As for my quest to appreciate beer, I think it will be like learning to like vegetables. Just keep trying. After all, if I could learn to like spinach in my 30s, beer should be easy.

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