“How do you know that you don’t like it if you don’t try it?” I used to hear this a lot as I was growing up when it came to food. I have always had problems with certain flavours and textures which made me feel ‘weird’, particularly when I went to other people’s houses for dinner. As I grew up I tried to overcome these fears and began to start tasting new things. Now the list of foods I will eat is longer than that of foods I won’t touch which feels like a personal feat for me. What I didn’t anticipate was how much of a psychological problem this was for me. This also stretches into my choices of beers.
When confronted with a large choice of beers on the bar I find at first it can be quite overwhelming. I feel a sense of panic as the bar tender looks at me waiting for my order. I find myself always choosing something I have had before, I know I like it and it means I won’t be a cause of delay at the bar. When looking at a shelf of beers in a shop I will always look for my favourite styles: sours, fruity, pales. The problem with this is that some styles of beers I wouldn’t usually choose may have qualities from the types I normally enjoy. One of the best examples of this is with IPAs.
When I first started drinking beers I tried quite a few IPAs and the recurring problem I kept finding was that they all tasted to me like a bar of soap. This then gave me a fear of anything labelled as hoppy and so I avoided IPA beers as a result. My opinion changed as I was recently encouraged to try Hypnotist by Magic Rock and I was pleasantly surprised by how fruity and juicy it was, not even remotely soapy! Since then I have been more open to IPA styles and have even chosen them for myself over my usual favourites.
This fear has also stopped me from drinking traditional real ales. I have always been a craft beer sort of person and so have never really found any cask beers that I’ve really enjoyed. On a trip to Cardiff my boyfriend said I needed to try a Brains SA. Admittedly a trip to Cardiff would not be complete without trying their famous beer but I had my reservations. “Can I have just a half?” I said, not knowing what to expect. “No, you have to have a pint, it’s the only way to have this beer” he replies. Next thing I know I am looking at a pint of the amber coloured ale and I’m committed. After the first sip I was hit with the sweet malty caramel flavours associated with this beer. I found myself really enjoying it and before I knew it the pint was gone. Since then I have been more open to having a go at some traditional cask ales.
So it looks like my list of beer styles I will drink is longer than those I won’t!