An Education in Beer

Dave Summers, November 10, 2016

I need to start with a confession: I haven’t had a beer for about a month. We’re going low carb and I’ve decided to take a short break from my beer adventures.

It’s given me time to reflect on my recent experiences, though.

Over the course of the last year, I’ve become a “beer guy." I discovered Untappd and BeerGraphs and started getting singles from the local grocery store, slowly increasing my consumption of beers and figuring out what I liked and what I hated.

I remember drinking my fair share of beer in college, particularly Newcastle Brown Ale. In my 20s, I remember getting interested in IPAs, as they were slowly starting to take off. And for the last five or six years, I’ve started discovering more and more beers, though without paying much attention to the overall quality of what I was drinking.

But it wasn’t until about a year and a half ago that I decided to take the next step and get serious about trying a wide variety of beers and documenting the experience. And what a fun ride it’s been.

I’m lucky to live in an area (Northeast Ohio) that’s home to quite a few breweries, so there’s never a lack of new beer to try. And new breweries keep opening up, so there are always new experiences awaiting.

All said, I think I’ve done a solid job of tasting new and old beers throughout the course of the last year. This includes stops at a few local breweries and some New England love from a vacation in Rhode Island. I’ve been trying to expand my reach to include more European beers, as you never know when you might find a diamond in the rough.

I’ve discovered that I while I like IPAs, I love saisons and witbiers. The flavor you get from these types of beers just fascinates me to no end. I want to keep trying more to see how my palate evolves further.

I did want to throw out some superlatives which help to shed some light on my introduction to serious beer drinking.

Favorite beers
Troegs Nugget Nectar.
Alpine Nelson.
Brew Kettle White Rajah.
These are all ones I’ve given five stars on Untappd. These are mostly hop-forward masterpieces, but each is well balanced and incredibly drinkable.

Least favorite beers
Southern Tier Pumking.
Just hated the flavor. Think I’ll be avoiding pumpkin ales from now on.
Newport Storm India Point Ale.
Think I got a bad batch, as this tasted overly metallic.
Lucky Girl Pineapple IPA.
Another complete mess.

Desert island beers
Fat Head’s Sunshine Daydream.
Beautiful flavor from a session ale, probably the best I’ve had of that style.
Brooklyn Sorachi Ace.
It might not be the best saison but it’s consistently excellent and one I’d want to drink over and over.
Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout.
I love the sweetness the lactose provides, something I could enjoy after dinner regularly.

Best brewery experience
JAFB Brewery in Wooster, OH.
I love trying as many beers as I can at breweries, because you never know what you’ll find. Every single beer here was solid, and a few, including the Columbian Coffee Stout, were fantastic. I don’t think they bottle yet, and they’re kind of out in the country, but well worth a trip.

Beer I want to try
Almanac Truthful Statement.
My grandfather perfected a recipe for old fashioneds which we get when we get married. So I’d love to see what that’s like in beer form. I’ve had a cider version from Angry Orchard which was pretty inspiring.

In the end, I’d like to try every beer once, from Habanero Sculpin (I didn’t hate it!) to Bud Light (no comment). The endless variety of beer won’t ever allow me to grow tired of having one more.

Dave is from Cuyahoga Falls, OH and runs Cuyahoga Language Services when not drinking. He can be found on Untappd here.