This week I had one of those ah ha moments. One of those moments when all of a sudden I got it. I've had a couple before this one: first there was Orval, then it was lambic. Now it’s tripels, a style I've previously never understood. To me they were just strong blondes; not something I'd drink to quench a thirst, not something I'd drink when I want something bigger, tasting vaguely metallic, strangely spicy and oddly hoppy. They were just not something I ever chose to drink, ever ordered or ever bought.
It was two separate revelations: Westmalle Tripel then Chimay White. Beers I've ignored until now, overlooked. I had them at an excellent Trappist evening at the White Horse. We tried a beer from each Trappist brewery then sat down to dinner paired with each of the Chimay beers. A trio of rabbit with the Red, salmon and asparagus with the White and Chimay cheese with the Blue. It was the White which stood out. What I got with the White, and with the Westmalle before it, wasn't what I expected: bold and hoppy, lively, clean, delicious. The previous conviction of it being boring and ‘just strong’ was gone. Each mouthful was different, each was interesting, each was exciting. I loved the big hops (it was the hops that did it), their aroma, their bite, the fruitiness of them, the peppery kick. I loved the fullness of body, the richness of flavour. And above all else I saw how they belong next to a plate on the dinner table. I finally got it.
There are inevitably styles which aren't quite your thing. Some don't like smoked beers, some don't enjoy gueuze and lambic, some don't like fruit, some prefer dark to light, some prefer strong to weak. Maybe they are styles which you actively dislike, maybe they are just styles which you never choose to drink. My particular 'meh' styles are Belgian blondes, strong Belgian blondes, Flemish reds, bocks and rauchbier. I just don't particularly enjoy them, in general (although a Taras Boulba is enough to turn anyone on to a feisty blonde). Until last night, tripels also fell into this category.
But the question is this: what styles do you either not like or rarely drink because they don't really do it for you? What don’t you get? What style could disappear from the beeriverse without you even noticing?
I think, and this applies to all styles, that it takes a eureka moment for everything new. The first DIPA, the first imperial stout, the time you realise sour beer is okay, the time you switch from lager to bitter, the moment you discover that Orval is meant to taste like that. This isn’t limited to esoteric styles, this works with everything, it’s just that some styles take a bit more work than others.