Sunday, January 04, 2009

New Beer's Resolutions

Making New Year's resolutions - at least the kind where you use the turn of the calendar as an artificial kick-start to better yourself - is one of the stupidest things a person can do. One year I vowed on New Year's Eve to lose weight. Then I spent the next day gorging while watching bowl games. I vowed after that never to make another resolution.

But if you turn the idea on its head, take your favorite habit that doctors wouldn't consider life-affirming and then decide that the new year is a chance to plunge deeper into your obsession, well, maybe that's not so bad. And so, I've tried to think of the things I've wanted to do with beer drinking but haven't always had the drive to accomplish. And there are quite a few of them.

What follows is my resolutions for beer tasting this year. While they may be my personal resolutions, I think that most of them are something that we as a community of beer geeks can also resolve to - goals that would not only improve our lives but would help the craft-brewing industry in this, its time of need.

1) I vow to try more new and experimental beers this year.
As the good people at my favorite liquor store know, I already walk in and say: "What do you have that's new?" But I may try one thing and then forget about the rest. No more.
The truth is, I could probably drink Odell IPA 365 days a year and be happy. But then you miss the next great thing that may be coming and never expand your horizons. So, I vow to dive into breweries of which I've never heard. I vow to go to the mix-a-six-pack cooler more often. And I vow to write and talk more about the true finds out there, to promote those beers which friends may not know yet.

2) I vow to drink seasonal beers in their seasons.
Everyone loves the good Christmas beer or the well-crafted pumpkin brew that hits shelves right before Halloween. But I'll sometimes blow through summer, Oktoberfest and even barleywine season (and, yes, barleywine is now an official season) without veering from my normal intake. No more.
Sure, maybe the light, fruity specialty summer brews put out by masters who make beers with a lot more cajones aren't my favorite style. But these same people who I would trust enough to glug whatever experimental liquid they would give me make these seasonals for a reason. They believe they're the right beers for the right time. And so, rather than turn my nose up at the next Skinny Dip that comes out, I'm going to try them. And maybe I'll like some of them more.

3) I vow to keep an open mind - but a short leash - on breweries I've written off.
There's no need to insert names in here. You know who you hate and which of their beers reminds you of chilled urine in a can. And there's no reason to drink those beers.
But some of those breweries, whether they be the mega breweries or the craft guys that really haven't hit their stride yet, are at least trying new things. Bolder tastes. More experiments. And sometimes they get it right. Only, if you don't try, you wouldn't know it. I'll try those new efforts this year. If I like them, bam, that's one more beer for the repertoire. And if their new products are awful too, well, let's just say you'll be able to read about it on this site.

4) I vow to homebrew.
For too long, I've avoided this effort, fearing that if I make something that resembles the aforementioned canned urine, I'll never be able to be critical of another beer again. But that's just cowardly. And, as a homebrewer in the Fearless Tasting Crew reminds me, you learn a lot more about what makes a beer good or bad by doing it yourself.
So, I'll try it this year. And if anyone has good starter recipes, I'll gladly take them.

5) Finally - and this one's just for me - I vow to write more.
Those of you who are good enough to read my scribblings know that I've lapsed for months at a time between postings in the past. No more.
This year, I vow to write several times a week. I vow to comment on a lot of your sites. And once I figure out how this new-fangled computer technology works, I vow to link to other sites so that we can achieve this great beer community that we all want to have. Because if a beer falls wonderfully across your taste buds and there's no one around to hear about it, has that beer really made an impact at all?

Happy New Beers, everyone.

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