“Good people drink good beer.”—Hunter S. Thompson
The above is a quote that adorns the packaging of the brew from the Flying Dog Brewery—one of my favorites in the States—and a statement I hope is true in my case.
Like many people who value their own opinions enough to plaster them all over the internet, I fancy myself a bit of a connoisseur—be it comics, movies, literature or TV, I generally like to think I have a discerning taste and approach my passion for my hobbies that way. This approach includes my passion for beers.
In that vein I’ll be beginning an ongoing series of reviews on each and every beer in which I partake. For now, I’ll be calling it Jim’s Beer Codex—filing it under the “Reviews of Brews” category—and it will be an effort to catalog an official list and analysis of each fermented, hop-filled beverage that I imbibe.
But before I begin, I think I should explain my history as a beer drinker to enlighten and inform my readers, especially as I am in no way a professional taster of beer or spirits with any real expertise. I’m just a man who likes his beer and has his own feelings on what makes it flavorful and helps it to enrich a night into an experience.
Growing up, beer wasn’t a big part of the Gibbons household. My parents drank occasionally, but I didn’t grow up around too many adults with open containers. In fact, it wasn’t till I was 20 that I really even had much desire to drink. I had my first beer at age 16 around a campfire (I’ll elaborate later on at Nothing More American) and reveled with camp friends into my first drunk at age 17. Both experiences were great, though the second led to quite a bit of feeling less than that, but both were isolated. Other than that, I think the only fondness I had for the idea of ale was reading about how much joy it brought ol’ Bilbo Baggins and his dwarven compatriots in The Hobbit. It wasn’t until right before I left to study abroad in England, as I was just about to turn 21, that I began to (A) want to drink beer for the sake of enjoyment and (B) to develop some sort of taste for it, instead of just piping it down like many underage Americans.
England proved to be a marvelous experience for my beer palate as the ales and lagers of the Motherland offered more flavor than the Rolling Rock I’d been pounding back in the weeks before, and it offered numerous occasions of pure debauchery and good times to be had—and with such great flavor, as well!
My mind, and taste buds, now open to all the world of beer had to offer, I set forth on a great beer adventure upon returning to the States. Aided greatly by Columbia, MO’s Arena Liquor (right across from my apartment complex, and proprietors of the largest beer selection in CoMo), each trip for beer usually ended with me taking home four different six-packs, primarily American microbrews, for my sampling pleasure—and yes, to fuel a few domestic nights of intemperance.
Over the next two years I spent far too much money on beer, but had managed to cut a swathe through the domestic line-up of beers—with some foreign fare mixed in—large enough to really feel as though I had some knowledge of what made good beer, what good beers I preferred and why.
It should be noted that a homebrew kit—featuring a book on the history and production of beer—gifted to me by my parents on my 22nd birthday and my limited experience brewing also backs up any and all opinions henceforth to be delivered on this blog about beer.
That all said, here’s the kind of beer drinker I am:
I’m primarily an ale man, but being of Midwestern stock I do love a good wheat beer, often above most other fare. You can call it a pansy move, but I call it patriotic and love my wheats in the American fashion with a slice of citrus—preferably lemon. Darker beers like stouts and porters are always good, but I tend to prefer savoring them in small quantities, usually to begin or end a night. Anything headier or stronger than the run of the mill is always welcome, but often relegated to one or two drinks as well. Lastly, I’ll try any beer, and especially love sampling seasonals—even if they fall into taste categories I normally don’t care for—because, gosh darn it, I love beer!
I just bought four six-packs last weekend that are in dire need of some reviewing, so I’ll be getting those up soon—stay tuned!