A Few (ok, many) Words From: John Hoyos
Not all beer drinkers are craft beer drinkers. Recently, I’ve realized that craft beer drinkers are not all beer drinkers. I’ll give you a minute to process that one and then I’ll explain. (Trust me, it took me just as long to figure out how to phrase it properly.)
Holidays are a time for seeing friends and loved ones. Gathering with the parents, step-parents and in-laws is par for the course and alcohol becomes a much needed unwrapped gift for the self. My family has advanced beyond the idea of giving each other gifts – mostly because we’re getting too old to pretend that we like what we’re opening. Now we’re just lucky enough to get everyone in the same building to have a meal together. Dinner on Christmas night this past year was at my mom’s house with my step-father, my youngest sister and her boyfriend. My mom didn’t ask me to make the mashed potatoes or bring desert. Like anyone else who works at Hunterdon (I’m sure), the expectation is that I bring the “enjoyable fermented beverages”.
Problem is that my mom and my sister are predominantly wine drinkers. My sister is less of a challenge – she’ll drink almost anything that suits her palate. My mom’s palate is much more selective and she’s recently regressed to only white wines. My step-father is a scotch guy – when my mom lets him drink. Dinner was roast beef, mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables. So I brought a variety of beers that I had in the cellar plus a sample of the Farnum Hill Dooryard Still Cider that Pete Martin, Drew Sewall and I helped create up at the orchard last October and voila. My sister and her boyfriend loved the Dupont La Biere de Beloiel and split the bottle over cheese, crackers, raw veggies and hummus. My mom had a can of Avery White Rascal – only after I poured it into a glass for her. My step-father had an Einbecker Schwarzbier. And in exchange for the half case of beer that was left over, I got to take some roast beef and mashed potatoes home. Everyone loved the beer and each remarked how well their particular beer went well with what they were having at the time. I started talking about the idea of having beer with a meal the way you would have wine, but they had already started talking about other things and my moment in the beer spotlight was gone. So be it.
My dad and step-mom experienced a bit of a beer revolution over the summer when they took a cruise to northern Europe. One of their stops was in Brugges. My dad got to try his first Belgian triple and was blown away. My step-mom discovered Saison Dupont for the first time and now both are going out and buying these beers on their own. Previously, I couldn’t get my dad to drink anything but an adequately made lager. These are people who were buying (and continue to buy) wine by the case. And they still are predominantly red wine drinkers. But craft beer has opened their eyes to another possibility for enjoying a refreshing fermented beverage.
The point I’m trying to make here is that you never know who’s going to like what. It’s not just about 21-34 year-old adults with disposable income. It’s not just about IPAs or Double IPAs. It’s not about Imperial Stouts or Barleywines that have been aged in barrels that once held red Zinfandel for 3 years (and may or may not have held rainwater for 10 years prior to that). It’s about a change in the way Americans drink. This incredible social change is coming from adults of all ages seeking out better flavor in the products they drink. Keep this change going by challenging your own palate and trying different products. Try pairing beers you’ve had with different foods. You never know what magic combination you’re going to come up with. And when you’re out in the field, encourage others to do the same. In ten years time, we could all be looking back and wondering why we ever wasted time drinking some of the swill that we did. Maybe then all beer drinkers will be craft beer drinkers.
John Hoyos

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