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Friday, August 15, 2014

How to be a beer connoisseur

For many decades years months seconds I have been a successful and respected beer connoisseur amongst other beer connoisseurs. And I know many of you will be crying, how do you do it? Please tell us your secrets! Well, no, of course you aren't. But I'm going to tell you anyway.

Being a beer connoisseur is not actually about drinking or brewing or anything like that. It's all about the lingo.

Basics
Don't say 'tastes of honey'. Say 'has honey notes'. Never say 'a taste of flowers'. Say 'floral'. Never say 'sweet'. Try instead 'malty', 'lovely hop aroma', 'great wort caramelisation', 'wonderful mouthfeel'. In fact, you should practice slipping that last phrase into unrelated conversations at work: it is a useful, all-purpose phrase, and will be worth it to see how people react. Slip in needlessly technical terms to your everyday conversation to make it seem at once completely incomprehensible and highly knowledgeable. Not: 'Wow, that's bitter!', but 'Dude! The IBU in this is amazing!'

Intermediate
It is especially useful in conversation to refer to parts of the brewing process that are controversial, poorly understood, or that excite frequent debate amongst brewers. This is not especially hard, as brewers will debate about any and every part of the process, and then when there is nothing left there, to argue about the weather. Try a simple phrase: 'Hotbreak'. This will excite other brewers, and cause them to wave their arms about and argue for the next hour over what the hotbreak really is, and still get it wrong. You will win kudos for having excited such a conversation.

A helpful table
Match any of the words on the left with any of the words on the right whenever discussion about the grains used in the brew come up. Say you can detect a hint of this or a touch of that. Perhaps avoid being too definitive in situations where the actual brewer of the brew is in the room.

Bairds
Bestmalz
Briess
Dingemann's
Joe White
Simpson's
German
Maris Otter
Pilsener
Dark Crystal
Amber
Chocolate
Roast Barley
Black Malt

More advanced 
It's all about the synonyms. Why say 'sweet' when you can say 'residual malt sugars'? Who needs 'alcoholic' when you can discuss 'ABV'? Brewers are shy and timid creatures really, and one word may be enough to gain their attention and respect if suitably technical. Swirl the glass around in your hand, sniff and grunt: 'Hmm. Hint of autolysis.' Or: 'interesting - redolent of phenols'. Or: 'spot of diacetyl'. They will be in awe of your abilities. After a few drinks, the word you use won't even matter: frown, adopt a serious town, and say: 'Ah, there's a bit of dialysis in here'. Everyone else will nod. You will end the evening either sounding like a knowledgeable critic or an intelligent enthusiast. Either way, it's all good.

And finally
Reject any and all comparisons to wine drinkers. Get the hell out of here! You're not a bloody snob or anything!

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