"I DON'T like beer."
You wouldn't believe how many times I have heard that. There are some people who just won't drink beer. At bars and restaurants, at tutored tastings, at casual backyard barbecues, I'll offer a stranger a bottle and you'd think I was spreading the plague.
Here - I promise, it won't kill you.
"No, I hate beer."
Dude, if you don't wanna drink, fine. You've got some personal or moral issues with alcohol, that's cool. I'm not going to force it down your throat.
"Nope - I drink."
But you don't drink beer - why not?
"I don't like the way it tastes."
You're joking. That's like saying you don't like music because of the way it sounds.
"It's not the same thing: I like lots of music, but I don't like classical."
Exactly! Some beer tastes like classical, some is heavy metal and some tastes like Thelonious Monk improvising with a funky yeast strain.
"Yeah, but it's all beer. And to me, all beer tastes the same."
How can you possibly know that unless you've tasted every beer?
"Well, I never jumped off the Ben Franklin Bridge, either, but I'm sure I wouldn't like it."
Now you sound like my second-grade teacher. On second thought, that's not true, because my second-grade teacher is the one who told me: If you don't try it, you'll never know what you're missing.
"What's there to miss? Beer's beer."
Whoa. Surely, you've noticed bars with a dozen tap handles or fridges with tons of different labels.
"Of course . . . "
And you're aware that there are now more than 2,000 breweries in America, more than any period in the past century?
"If you say so."
Not to mention imported beer.
"What's your point?"
So, these hundreds upon hundreds of breweries around the world are producing thousands of different brands, with different ingredients and techniques. Their beer is golden or dark brown or red or white. They're sparkling or murky or foamy or flat. Some are cheap; some are expensive. The labels say "ale" or "stout" or "bock" or a hundred other descriptions.
Yet, despite that, you've somehow constructed a worldview in which every single one of them tastes exactly the same?
"You know what I mean: I don't like that 'beer' taste."
Wait a sec . . . lemme guess: You're a wine drinker.
"I enjoy a nice glass with dinner, sure."
And your favorite is, what, Merlot?
"Hell no - nobody drinks that anymore. I'm into big Zinfandels these days. They're full-bodied and in your face."
You like bold? Try an imperial stout like Weyerbacher Old Heathen or Goose Island Bourbon County - both are full-bodied with a fruity flavor.
"Sometimes I'm in a white-wine mood - Chardonnay."
Dogfish Head Burton Baton. It's woody with a touch of vanilla.
Rodenbach Grand Cru. It's tart, fruity with a smooth touch of sweetness. Heck, they even call it the Burgundy of Belgium.
New Holland Monkey King Saison - it's light and refreshing, perfect for warmer weather.
"You've got a beer for every wine, don't ya?"
Yo, it's even better than that - there's a beer for every taste. If you think about it, it's wine that tastes like wine. But beer can taste like almost anything: cherries, chocolate, mangoes, caramel. The other day I had a beer that tasted like bacon.
"Mmmm . . . bacon."
That's what I'm talking about!
"Well, I still don't like beer."
Like I said, I'm not going to force it down your throat. But you can't blame a brother for trying.
Joe about town
I'll be at several events in coming weeks. Stop by and let me prove that all beer doesn't taste the same.
April 5 - Happy Hour Yoga, at Yoga on the Ridge (493 Domino Lane, Roxborough), with a one-hour session led by Mrs. Sixpack followed by a post-workout spring-beer sampling. Tix $25.
April 10 - A beer-and-food pairing presented by Sam Adams at Chickie's & Pete's (11000 Roosevelt Blvd., Northeast Philly), with plenty of food and specialties from Boston Beer. Tix $25.
April 12 - Victory Brewing sampling at Bell Beverage (2809 S. Front St., South Philly), with some new varieties from the Downingtown brewery, including Swing Session Saison. Free.
"Joe Sixpack" is by Don Russell, director of Philly Beer Week. For more on the beer scene, sign up for his weekly email update at joesixpack.net. Email: email@example.com.