This month's Session is hosted by Rebecca Patrick of The Bake and Brew and she'd like to know when we find ourselves going against the grain of the greater beer world.
In 1993 I was an eleven year old boy psyched out of my mind to go see Jurassic Park. All I needed to see was a shot of a T-Rex to get amped up, but after what seemed like every kid I knew coming out of theaters loving the movie I couldn't wait to finally watch it myself. And what was my reaction after seeing it for the first time? I can still remember taking a break from swimming one day that summer and saying to my friend "Eh, it was good, but not as good as everyone says it was". No matter how good that movie was or wasn't it didn't stand a chance of living up to the expectations I put upon it after hearing everyone go bananas the first two weeks of its release. It was only after distancing myself from the hysteria that was 65 million years in the making that I was able to watch Jurassic Park and enjoy it for what it is. Eventually, it became one of the favorite movies of my childhood but I always wondered if I wouldn't have been so let down after my first viewing if I went in without any preconceived notions as to what the movie would be.
That experience has shaped the way I've viewed other's opinions ever since. Yes, their opinions are just as valid as mine and some are more trustworthy than others, but I'm very careful about how closely I listen before I've had the chance to experience something for myself. Now that I'm 31 and beer is one of my biggest interests I try to never forget eleven year old Doug's Dino disappointment. I avoid almost all beer rating sites or anything that involves the giving of opinions galore. For the most part, I don't care what people think are the best or worst beers. When I listen to beer reviews, I rarely stick around for the final rating. Just give me the adjectives and that's enough to help me determine whether or not I want to try something. Is a beer citrusy, piney, malty, fruity, sticky, oily, pungent, sulfury? Adjectives I can work with and use to help determine if a beer is something I want to keep on my radar. Someone telling me a beer is an A- or a 92 out of 100 means nothing to me. I don't know what an A- or 92 tastes like. On the flip side, I know what pine tastes like in a beer and I know whether or not I'm a fan of beers with pine in the flavor profile. And I try to remember that when I'm writing things myself. I want to describe what I'm experiencing not determine what someone else should be experiencing when they sit down with a beer or restaurant for the first time. I'm not sure how successful I am at that, but I try nonetheless.
So, to answer Rebecca's question when do I find myself going against the grain? Happily, I can say I'm not sure. I try keep an appreciable distance from the grain to be sure that my opinions and views are my own and influenced as little as possible by the opinions of others. I love hearing others describe things and help give me an idea as to what I can expect with a beer, but far too often I find people telling me what I should think and that's something I'm just not interested in.
And now that we have that behind us let's get to what you came here for! Stone's Enjoy By line of beers can suck it! Just kidding, they aren't bad. They simply suffer from the Jurassic Park Effect.