In his New Beer’s Resolution post, Reluctant Scooper writes about how place, time and company impact upon beer enjoyment. This is massively important and it’s pretty central to my latest Hop Press post. You see, attaching a numerical value to a selection of criteria based on a sensory experience is not easy, yet at the same time all you need to do is decide how much you like something and then score it accordingly (if you aren’t ‘rating’ then the same idea applies and there is still some kind of subconscious process in which you decide how much you like what you are drinking: How drinkable is it? What does it taste like? How refreshing is it? Shall I get another or choose something different?).
I care about what is outside of the glass: the mood of the drinker, the kind of day they’ve had, what the weather is like, the kind of thirst they have, who they are with and where they are. All of this is important. Drink a bottle of ice cold lager in your garage on a rainy February afternoon and it’s probably going to taste crap. Open the same beer on a hot tropical beach in the middle of summer and it’ll taste wonderful. Likewise, a barley wine shared with friends after a long, enjoyable dinner will be better than a lonely bottle drunk while watching TV in the evening when you are full of a nasty cold (that’ll clear the system!). Sharing experiences also attaches extra texture to the memories we have of something. You’ll remember the barley wine with friends because of the fun you had. You might not even like the beer that much as a taste experience, but as life wraps around the glass it becomes more enjoyable.
I’ve written about the taste of memories before. There’s a similar idea behind that post.