Guest blog! My friend’s first beer. Ever.
I was a little surprised when I got this text from my old bandmate Roi: “I want to try beer.” Roi will give you a little background below, but he had never tried beer before, and was looking to me for advice. Needless to say, I was honored to serve as an initial guide to the beverage I love.
The most exciting thing about this as a beer lover is that I have never encountered anyone with such a unique palate. I’ve introduced people to their first non-American-macrobrew before, but never their first actual beer. Also, Roi is a chef. (A very good Vegan chef, whose cooking I miss very much.) So not only does he have a clean and open mind, but I know he’s able to taste and appreciate subtle and complex flavors, probably even better than me. But would this apply to beer as well?
Hopefully I can get Roi to write me something else later in his tasting journey.
My name is Roi Elam, I am 33 years old, and up until Monday March 29th 2010 I had never tried beer.
There are many reasons for this. Mostly it was my upbringing in the Southern Baptist Church and the belief that any kind of alcohol was not acceptable. I don’t blame my parents for that, but it’s something I have held on to forever. My second reason was all the “bro” concertgoers I have encountered in my many years of being a professional musician who were drunk, sexist, and obnoxious. These people did not paint a picture of who I wanted to be. I had never claimed to be “Straight Edge”. This is a wonderful concept, but other than being Vegan I really didn’t feel the need to put a label on myself.
About a week ago, I was reading my good friend Brian Miller’s Beer Student blog and it all came together for me. It’s not about getting plastered for the sake of getting plastered. Beer is actually something that can taste good and be an exciting experience for a newcomer like myself. I mean, for God’s sake, I drink Kombucha on a regular basis, which is tea made from a fermented mushroom! After giving this all a little thought I sent a text over to Brain and we discussed a good place for me to start. For anyone that knows me, when I make a decision to do something, it all happens rather quickly. As an example: after 6 years of growing beautiful dreadlocks, I decided to cut them off. The decision came one day and the next they were gone. The same thing happened here.
So far I have had two beers and I liked them both.
My first ever was a Blue Moon. After our text discussion, Brian and I felt this was a good place to start. [Cheap, readily available, easy on the palate.] I went to the local grocery store and bought a 22oz bottle with the thought that I would rather only dump out one if I hated it as opposed to buying a 6 pack and wasting a larger amount. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect as far a flavor, feel, or even consistency. With my first sip I was quite surprised…I actually liked it! Blue Moon is a wheat beer and that is what it tasted like. I would describe it like drinking a sweet bread flavored soda. I didn’t end up finishing the whole bottle. 22 ounces is a little too much for the first sitting considering I never drink that much of anything at once – not even coffee.
My second beer was a Rouge Dry Hopped St. Rouge Red Ale. I currently live in Oregon and believe in supporting local business as much as possible, so Rouge was a no-brainer. I was smarter this time and went to the local natural foods store that sells the 12 oz bottles individually – always thinking. I would have to say I liked this better than the Blue Moon. It was smooth and I finished it off rather easily. It had a bitter taste to it, but at the same time it was very pleasing. I tried it with my lunch – a Vegan TVP loaf sandwich – and it went along very well. I definitely will have another one of these in the near future.
Where do I go next? Who knows? I will just try things and see if I like them. In my fridge now is a Fish Tale Organic Amber Ale that I will try tomorrow. I figure one a day, or every other day, is a good pace.
It turns out that all of my preconceived notions about drinking beer were very naïve and quite honestly, childish. I am still not on a quest to get drunk; that will never be an intention of mine, and I don’t believe it ever will be. I am just realizing that it’s time to branch out and try new things, try to live a little more and not continue to put walls up for no apparent reason. It may seem silly to some, but for me, it’s a big step in a new direction.