Variety is the spice of life right? That’s what I’ve heard and that’s what I’ve been told, but that’s not what I’ve always been doing. We all have our go-to beverage right? For some it’s the standby rum and coke, for others it’s the house white, for many it’s Miller Lite, and there’s nothing wrong with this, in fact it makes things easy when in a hurry. I do it all the time, in fact I did it earlier this week. I walk into my establishment of choice, look for something familiar on the tap list, and grab it. Well, not this year, and not from now on because I’m on the quest for 500.
When it comes to craft beer, there seems to be endless variety. Tons of breweries, styles, and ingredients and countless combinations thereof. However, it is human nature to go with what you know. I love wheat beers and stouts, so I’m much more likely to check those out when I come to your establishment. I couldn’t care less if your double IPA has won a million awards, it’s not a style I like so I’m not getting one. Sure, I may sip it if someone else gets one, but I’m not committing to a beer I probably won’t like. Not any more, because I’m on the quest for 500.
I’m sure you’re wondering, what is this ‘quest for 500.’ Well, it’s the quest to have the bragging rights to say that I have had 500 unique beers (and a silly virtual badge, more on that later). No, this isn’t a giant drinking binge, in fact it’s quite the opposite. This is about exploring my own palate, preferences and testing my limits when it comes to stepping out of my comfort zone. According to the beer tracking/rating app that I use, Untappd, since December 9th 2010 (when I started keeping track of my beers) I have already had 434 unique beers. This includes, of course, different batches of the same beer, such as 2010 Infinium and 2011 Infinium. This also takes into account brew fests I have attended, where one is usually only given a small 5 oz sample. It even includes many ‘rare’ beers such as the first batch of Ta Henket. Overall, it’s not too shabby. When I tried 10 different Hefeweizen’s it gave me the Hefenista badge. When I sampled three different summer beers, I got the Summer Fun badge. This year, when I check in to my 500th beer, I will get the Legendary badge.
Why, you’re asking, do I want to have 500 unique beers? Doesn’t this make me an alcoholic? Au contraire! What people of the craft beer community want you to understand is that craft beer consumption is very comparable to wine consumption.Different beers can be sampled, discussed and rated just like different vintages of wines. In fact, I’ve found hangouts on Google+ that do just that. Everyone gets a bottle of something new and different for them, discusses the color of the beer, accuracy to style, flavors expressed on their palate and whether or not they liked it. Not very different than those who make notes on different wines they’ve tried.
The site is based entirely on the honor system, so I’m sure you’re saying, “Why don’t you just cheat, they’re not real badges anyways.” Well, if you’re thinking that, I’m pretty sure you’re missing my whole point here. I’m trying to branch out. I’m hoping to walk in somewhere and instead of saying, “Oh boy look there’s Dreamweaver Wheat [which I love] that I’ve checked in to a billion times. Let’s go with that – it’s safe,” I will be saying, “Hey, there’s a whole bunch of new stuff on tap here. Have I tried any of this yet?” I have lots of great friends who already do this on a daily basis, and they’ve inspired me to follow suit.
Once I hit 500, who’s to say I can’t get that Extraordinary badge at 1,000 or even the Elite badge at 2,500? That seems a bit ambitious, but I’m excited to begin trying new beers and hopefully gather many more badges along the way.
What are you trying new this year?
Special thanks to www.SaraBozich.com for letting us cross-post!