Thursday, September 6, 2007

Beer Associations

Hi Everyone, Rachel here.

As I was laying in bed last night at 2am, unable to sleep, I was thinking about the concept of beer associations. It seemed very interesting to me at the time, but I am not sure if it was one of those moments of faux clarity, like when you have drunk too much. OK- focus Rachel. Here's my claim- people associate beer with experiences, events, etc. Therefore their attitude/ opinion of that beer, is (somewhat) dependent on these experiences. My logical reasoning is a little rusty, so please bear with me.

Here's some examples I can think of. Note- as you will see, they have nothing to do with the actual beer characteristics, although I definitely do appreciate those as well. Its the memories, emotions, that these beers invoke in me, that make them meaningful and special.

  • Coastal Fog- those crazy keg parties from college, namely senior year when everyone had developed somewhat sophisticated enough tastes, or thought it was passe to continue buying the kegs of natty light among the freshman with fake ids. These were the Jack Johnson days. These parties were somewhat nostalgic, but always fun, and this beer will always remind me of them. New Belgium's Fat Tire falls into this category as well- because all our college friends from Colorado always ranted and raved about this beer, and it was a true celebration when they began to distribute in No Cal.

  • Deschutes Black Butte Porter- this beer will always remind me of Sunriver, Oregon. Sunriver's one of my in-laws favorite vacation spots, which we have been going to for years. This beer reminds me of sitting at the porch, watching the golf course, or having dinner at the local restaurant. I am in vacation mode whenever I drink it. Deschutes was also my first official brewery tour.

  • Duvel- This beer reminds me of Thanksgiving. We had it this past year, in addition to Pat's own Saison, which was used to brine the turkeys. (Ah, beer as a food ingredient- we definitely have to save that for another discussion)

Hopefully you guys can get the picture of what I am talking about now. I feel that this is an important thing to consider in the creation of The Bruery. Our customer's experience of the beer is very important to us- and is taken into account in our bottle selection, tasting room, beer names, basically everything.

But enough about me, I want to know what YOUR beer associations are. Why don't you include your own in the comments section of this post. I know you're out there...come on, it won't hurt, I promise!!!


Patrick Rue said...

Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Black Butte Porter have the strongest associations for me, as they were the first craft beers I had tried. I tried these for the first time a few years before I met Rachel, and it's one of the things about Sun River / Bend, Oregon that I wanted to share with her when she went with my family and I on vacation there. Drinking those beers today reminds me of being among the pine trees, the Deschutes River, and good people.

I tried a sip of Sam Adams Triple Bock on a ski trip at Steamboat Springs, CO in the mid 90's and thought it was tasty, but my Dad and brother threw it out because it tasted like soy sauce. Drinking it brings me back to the time where I was powerless to stop someone from dumping a perfectly good beer down the drain.

Drinking Cuvee Du Tomme for the first time was a trip. I was new to the flavors of wild yeast and souring bacteria, so this one was different. I remembered I served it too cold, there wasn't much carbonation to it. Upon the first sip, there was no way I was going to be able to finish the bottle. Drinking it today-- well, I haven't tried it again since due to inavailability / not being at the brewery at the right time, but I'm sure my opinion would be very different after enjoying a lot of different wild beers.

During my bachelor's party, we had a beer tasting where each person was to bring a different beer, and we'd have a vote to see what beer was rated the best. I remember the look on people's faces when they tried Chimay Grand Reserve, like it was the best thing they've ever tasted. I also recall the faces of people when they had Arrogant Bastard. There was a lot of polite "Sure, this is good" followed by a pour in the kitchen sink. The Arrogant Bastard is what I had to brought to the table. Michelob Amber Bock is also a memory from the bachelor's party-- that's what my father in law brought with him. Most of the people at the party would have preferred that beer over all of the great beers that we tried that night. By the end of the night, the rest of that six pack hadn't been touched. That's the last time I had Amber Bock, so I can't say I relive my bachelor party every time I have it.

. said...

The best association I can recall is with Guinness. Having visited Ireland three times, I have my share of memories of stumbling over cobblestone alleys on my way back to the hostel, with a hint of dark roasted malt on my breath. But more accurately, it reminds me of a small town on the Atlantic coast, called Lahinch. My wife and I were allowed to stay after hours in a local pub and witnessed a true Irish singing session with the locals singing sea shanty songs, each taking a turn, with the few left in the pub joining in. The Guinness never tasted better.

Scott Koehm said...

My Guinness post was not meant to be anonymous. I had some settings wrong in my profile.

Anonymous said...

I remember the first beer I tried: Miller Lite in 1979 that I stashed away from the place I was renting after they had a party. In a word "UGGGGGGHHHH", it was disgusting and I did not have another beer till I found Henry Weinhards, bottling #48 in 1980 where I was 20 and was able to get 12-12 packs for $2.99 each.

More memorable are the beers I (we) drink now and my memories hazy but there's a lot of good time's I've had with great beers. One that comes to mind as my favorite is from 2005 when I hosted a Winter Warmer dinner with a vertical tasting of Alaskan Smoked Porter 2002 thru 2005 versions. I also cooked dishes all made with beer. It was a blast and I'll remember the good time I had with Pat and Rachel along with a few other BrewCommune members.


Ed H said...

Hmmm...I am probably going to give up my age with this little trip down memory lane.

Little Kings Cream Ale would be my earliest beery association as it is all I drank during late-night poker games and friendly gatherings during my pre-college days. I remember it as the best tasting beer I could find in a state dominated by "America's only Fire-Brewer Beer".

Anchor Steam was the first micro I ever tried as it was pretty much the only one readily available when I arrived in California in 1982. I remembered finding the taste overpowering, yet intriguing. Little did I know then how my association with Anchor would grow!

Redhook ESB was a diacetyl bomb in the early '90's, but it opened my eyes (and my palate) to the myriad of sensory joys encapsulated in better beer. The Redhook portfolio was outstanding at the time and introduced me to several new styles including; Porter (Blackhook), Hefeweizen (which blew Widmer away), Stout (Doubleback w/Starbucks coffee), and RyeHook.

Now, just where did I hide my hunter green leisure suit?

Jill and Rob said...

I read "beer associations" to mean a completely different thing (until I finished the article). I was thinking of something like an association of beer drinkers and brewers. What if you could do this on a nation-wide level? What if you could join a "beer association" at your local brewery and travel the country to other affiliated brewerires knowing you're going to get the same good quality and atmosphere that you get at your local place? That was my thought until I finished reading the article.
Rob Lloyd

Doug said...

Moosehead will alway remind me of hanging out in the back of the boat after a long day of skiing on our family camping trips. The crisp refreshing lager helped soothe aching muscles as the sun set over the mountain hills after the "ladies" headed back to camp for dinner.

T.R. said...

Well, Mikey's reminds me of when my brother and I would pitch a tent in the back yard (it was an acre so it felt like roughing it) and his buddy would would show up with a case, but that was early on.

So my real memorable one was my 21st B-day going out to the Rathskeller (Old World), drinking Franziskaner and Spaten lager for most of the night. It remains one of my favorites; standing the test of time.

Rational Realist said...

What a good post. I've drank so much beer over the years that it's hard to imagine that I had to scratch my head for an association. (Drinking Coors and Coors Light to excess in college and shortly thereafter is not much of an association.) My best association is having a Christmas beer as we put up the Christmas tree and decorate the house. No beer in particular, although a bomber of Stone's Double Bastard over a couple of hours is a nice memory. One other association or beer memory is stumbling upon an English micro brew pub in Paris, Frog and Princess. It was just my wife and I in 1996 about a year and a half before our first daughter was born. We had been in Paris for about a week and it was so nice to find a place that spoke English. I don't remember the quality of the beers, but one was named InSeine Ale. What sticks out is how good the Plowman's lunch was how pleasant the three or four pints made the rest of the afternoon.