The paradox of experience

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by draheim, Jan 28, 2013.

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  1. draheim

    draheim Poo-Bah (2,400) Sep 18, 2010 Washington
    Beer Trader

    I was trying to capture the current (typical Seattle in January) weather more than the traffic; it just so happens that my office window overlooks I-5 near where this WSDOT camera is. And believe me, our traffic is usually a lot worse; just not always at 1:30 in the afternoon. (I deleted that post since you responded, seemed too much of a non sequitur.)
  2. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,459) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    OP is right but I think it's uncontroversial & common that people try a wide range of something, learn to appreciate the better & best examples, and then of course judge other examples less favorably because they are so acquainted with the best.

    J.S. Mill wrote about this distinction between higher & lower level pleasures, and when people are sufficiently acquainted with the higher ones they will prefer those (or should, at least).

    There is one interesting negative consequence of improved beer distribution in this country and the present topic at hand - when you have THE BEST that's out there for your favorite styles on the shelves, and you're adequately familiar with the range of a given style, then it can be much harder to find yourself buying anything other than some of those best examples of a style. It's going to be hard to get me to drink much other than Bell's, Ballast Point, Firestone Walker, Green Flash, Odell, Stone, & AleSmith where I live because all of those are really at the top of the IPA style that I love so much.
  3. Sneers

    Sneers Initiate (0) Dec 27, 2009 Pennsylvania

    One thing I find a little curious about this hypothetical experienced drinker is this negative bias s/he seems to have. Why does it only seem to be the case that flaws or shortcomings ruin so-called average beers? Couldn't our expert just as readily find a new layer of depth, flavor, or beauty in one of said beers? Surely, if with a trained palate comes new ways of deriding a beer, it also comes with new ways of praising it. Likewise, our film critic might not consider some pedestrian film a favorite, but is also probably very good at finding various ways in which the film succeeds.

    In other words, I think your paradox only arises when viewing things so "vertically." Maybe some critics (of beer, film, or otherwise) do think this way, but I certainly don't think it has to be the case. In fact, I would hope that these experienced critics, not only as critics, but as lovers of the thing they critique, are able to approach things more humbly, or "horizontally," if you will.
  4. herrburgess

    herrburgess Savant (999) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    Breaking out the Kierkegaard? This is getting deep....
  5. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,686) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    My name is Jack and I am a beer snob.

    To springboard off of yemenmocha’s verbiage of: “It's going to be hard to get me to drink much other than Bell's, Ballast Point, Firestone Walker, Green Flash, Odell, Stone, & AleSmith where I live because all of those are really at the top of the IPA style that I love so much.”

    I frequently look at Sierra Nevada Torpedo while walking through my local beer store. I look at it and think: what not buy it this time. It is a good beer and reasonably priced. What I have purchased in the past few months was Fat Heads Head Hunter, Lagunitas Sucks, Troegs Nugget Nectar. I just can’t bring myself to purchase Torpedo.:oops:

  6. ghostly

    ghostly Initiate (0) Mar 7, 2011 New York

    When you mentioned film critics, it reminded me of my old film buff days. I got to a point where I would be amazed at the mediocrities that were nominated for awards (as I'm sure they are at GABF, for example) and it was disillusive and slightly depressing, but it never dampened my love for movies; I just gravitated toward films that were more elegantly crafted (in any style). It's been similar with beer. An extreme beer and a simple one are on equal footing with me, but elegance is what still really impresses me, whether it's within style guidelines or without. "Elegance" is probably the wrong term because it sounds too precious for a drink of the people, but it's as close as I can get right now.
  7. leedorham

    leedorham Defender (696) Apr 27, 2006 Washington

    You actually embedded the webcam. Look at tongorad's reply again. It updated.
    draheim likes this.
  8. draheim

    draheim Poo-Bah (2,400) Sep 18, 2010 Washington
    Beer Trader

    This could be a new daily BA feature: What beer are you drinking now, and how's the traffic?
    leedorham likes this.
  9. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,686) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    “but as lovers of the thing they critique, are able to approach things more humbly, or "horizontally," if you will.”

    As you can discern from my prior post I personally have been failing in this regard. It is certainly something I think about (like buying Sierra Nevada Torpedo for example) but I have recently been unable to achieve in this regard.

    I suppose I should re-double my efforts to be “horizontal”!?!

  10. Ernest_Hooper

    Ernest_Hooper Initiate (0) Apr 23, 2012 Michigan

    My humorous answer is this: Solve your problem by taking an entire month to stay off of beer websites, top 100 lists, and opinions on beer in general. Supplement this by drinking a can of Bud Light every time that you feel like having a beer. Think about this as a forced imprisonment, an isolation camp from which you should walk out with a fully new outlook on beer and tasting.

    Let me get back to you shortly on the serious answer.
  11. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,459) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    If the ones I mentioned were significantly more $ like in other beverage categories, then I too would buy the Torpedo a lot more often. Right now we're spoiled because so many good beers are distributed in so many states. It's just too easy to be indulgent with the best and find it irresistable to pass on products that aren't necessarily bad, but they're just not anywhere near as good as others.
    RockAZ likes this.
  12. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (1,753) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    I got what you were going for with the weather, but just thought I'd just interject a different take on it. And I'm sorry for derailing your thread a bit, but...this is totally incredible how it is doing that!
  13. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (1,753) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    You are probably thinking too short term- maybe the mood will strike in the next five years and only Torpedo will do.
    I had a very similar experience recently with Krusovice Dark Lager, and thankfully it was available (and it delivered!); it's not the best Schwartzbier around, but I just had to have 'it', if you know what I mean.
  14. draheim

    draheim Poo-Bah (2,400) Sep 18, 2010 Washington
    Beer Trader

    Yep, and it wasn't my intention. I just posted the .jpg file and figured it would be a static capture. You guys can check the Seattle traffic for weeks to come, as long as this thread doesn't get too much more off track and it suffers the fate of other such threads. :) Hope not.

    Looking out the window now, the southbound lanes are starting to get pretty congested. Cheers!
  15. templar316

    templar316 Initiate (0) Apr 6, 2007 Pennsylvania

    This is a cool thread and it certainly something I've spent some time thinking about. I've been drinking craft beer since the late 90's (can't wait for Deschutes to get to PA, it's been almost a decade since my last Black Butte). There are certainly some examples of beers I liked alot when I first started that I "outgrew": Guiness, Saranac Black and Tan, Yuengling. However, at the same time there are beers that you you come back too; I have a much greater appreciation of Sam Adams then when I first started and the other day I had my first Sierra Nevada Pale in years (it was the only choice at a sporting event) and I felt that I should revist all their beers (in PA I have to buy by the case so this is no small comitment!). I rarely meet a craft beer I don't find something enjoyable about (A for effort!), in fact I gave up reviewing a few years back cause I felt like I loved everything. I have noticed (and worried about) an upward creep in my taste level. But now I typically start with some basic ales and moving to some wow stuff to end the night. This year I've been experimenting with farmhouse ales and bierra de garde as well. So I say enjoy the journey!
    frazbri likes this.
  16. RockAZ

    RockAZ Disciple (371) Jan 6, 2009 Arizona
    Beer Trader

    What a thoughtful topic and some good responses to it. Really, I could do with one or two beers and drink them exclusively at heart, but the last couple of years the range of brewery distributions to my area has increased 100's of percent from an already enviable level, and I do travel a bit from coast to coast so I have not let up on the "ticker" chase for some time now.

    Don't get me wrong, I am delighted to be surrounded by friends, liquor stores and bars that daily call to me "Something new just arrived today that will change your whole perspective on (style of beer)." It is both overwhelmingly joyous and a curse. As my experience broadens from my first beer festival in Boulder in 1981, plus the madcap pace of microbrews the last 15 years, I realize I need to visit these old brands I "outgrew" occaisionally and find a lot of joy still left in that brewery's efforts. Last night I went to a chain place with a lot of TV screens and they had BMC yadda yadda plus SN Torpedo on draft, and I thought to myself - "This tap list sucks!", and grabbed for a lonely Stone IPA bottle I saw almost hidden in their fridge thinking I was slumming it. Stone.IPA. Settle for Stone beer? 10 years ago I would have screamed to have that option at a bar! Not quite a sobering experience, but you know what I mean.
  17. Ranbot

    Ranbot Devotee (421) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    When I first got into craft beer I was difficult to please and picky. Every beer had to be something special. I don't feel that way any more though. I have come back with much greater appreciation of what many may consider more pedestrian of craft beers. I now understand that a beer can be excellent without being a 8+ ABV and made with some crazy ingredient(s). That's not to say that I don't try one of the bigger, inventive brews from time to time, but I don't feel like I must have them all the time, and I certainly don't go out of my way for them any more.
  18. Sneers

    Sneers Initiate (0) Dec 27, 2009 Pennsylvania

    I've not read Kierkegaard, but I'll take it as a compliment that it sounds like I have.
  19. Immortale25

    Immortale25 Poo-Bah (3,004) May 13, 2011 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    It's all about fun. If you're no longer having fun drinking the beer and just scrutinizing it, it becomes a waste of time unless you're a certified beer judge/critic. Just like with watching movies, if you're finding yourself not enjoying it as much because you're nitpicking every little detail, maybe you should take a step back and not take things so damn seriously.
    dennis3951 likes this.
  20. jtg5678

    jtg5678 Aspirant (208) Nov 27, 2012 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    I started my weekend with Keystone Ice (I was offered and can still get through the crap) and ended it with a Pipeworks Coffee Break Abduction.

    I'm certainly not suggesting drinking keystone - it's awful - but my point is to change things up, vary the styles you buy, and you will keep your palate honest. At least that's in my experience.
  21. Immortale25

    Immortale25 Poo-Bah (3,004) May 13, 2011 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    So funny. Back in my less enlightened days, we would drink Keystone Ice and be like "Man! That 5.9% creeps up on you after you drink four or five!" Ah, memories.
  22. jtg5678

    jtg5678 Aspirant (208) Nov 27, 2012 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    When I was under 21 in college I drank A LOT of it. But as soon as I turned 21 and could buy my own beer, I quickly ditched it. It definitely can creep up though!
    Immortale25 likes this.
  23. FosterJM

    FosterJM Poo-Bah (2,602) Nov 16, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    1700+ reviews and I keep climbing the mountain. I only have 1 5/5. I hope to find more. The sum of the experience for me is better than just getting to the end.

    draheim likes this.
  24. bleakies

    bleakies Disciple (372) Apr 11, 2011 Massachusetts

    Sometimes I drink beer for Comfort and sometimes I drink beer for Wow, and thus far I haven't found the latter experience to work toward the former's detriment.

    And as an aside: Hail the embarrassment of riches brewers are providing us these days, without which this thread would not exist.
  25. bigflatsbeerman

    bigflatsbeerman Disciple (349) Nov 2, 2005 New York

    Congratulations on posting something that resulted in a firestorm of responses.

    Before I was into craft beer I would accept anything as beer as good. I am much more picky now. The one thing I am avoiding is having to write a review of every beer I try. To me that means it's no longer fun. You can'r get into it this far and act like I used to. My tastes have refined and I will seek out beers I think I will enjoy.
  26. Andygirl

    Andygirl Initiate (0) Jan 3, 2013 Michigan

    This how I am!
  27. thecraftculture

    thecraftculture Initiate (0) Nov 28, 2012 Florida
    Beer Trader


  28. 5thOhio

    5thOhio Devotee (497) May 13, 2007 South Carolina

    " seems that the deeper and broader your experience level, the more critical and difficult to please you naturally become."

    Nope. Never happens to me with beer. I love the stuff and can always run into something that makes me say, "Man! That's good."

    Sucks to be you, I guess.
  29. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,223) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    There are some beers that I would drink i.e. Rolling Rock that now I know is full of DMS, but back then was a little different.

    More recently I liked German imports, but now I recognize that they are almost always stale in bottles. Sometimes good in kegs.

    Some beers have lost their appeal as I have become more averse to phenolics - German Wheats and many Belgian beers.

    Then there are the Craft beers that have defects that are really beyond the pale - there were some beers from a MI brewery at a gathering that were all full of solvent smells. I am beyond drinking poorly made "Craft = Quality" beers. Those would have been instant headaches.
  30. JamesShoemaker

    JamesShoemaker Initiate (0) Sep 21, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    Interesting question. I was thinking about this very thing on a recent trip to the Twin Cities. My friend bought me several dozen local beers from Wisconsin (a few New Glarus and CW, but nothing major in terms of BA score) and I refrained from looking them up on BA. Some were good, some were not great, but it was a lot of fun just letting my palate do the work. There are so many great beers out there that are either ignored or rated only by a few people who don't like the style - thus the lower score.

    Letting people who are less finicky than you offer you beer is a great way to expand your horizons.
  31. JamesShoemaker

    JamesShoemaker Initiate (0) Sep 21, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    ...assuming it's not BMC.
  32. Tballz420

    Tballz420 Meyvn (1,176) Mar 4, 2003 Minnesota

    I've had a lot of beers, so the ones that catch my attention now are the ones that are trying new things. I don't find that I am less able to enjoy other craft beers though.
  33. Dope

    Dope Poo-Bah (2,257) Oct 5, 2010 Massachusetts

    Excellent post.

    For me, personally, I'm nearing 1000 reviews. When I look back on my reviews, my first few hundred were overwhelmingly positive. Almost all of them are +rDev (I'd say 75%+). As time moved on my scores starting approaching the norm. Nowadays, I'd say around 2/3 of my reviews are -rDev. Slowly, over time, as I experienced more and more beers, I found myself comparing them to the greats and falling short. "Hmm this BA stout isn't as complex as a KBS, or as bourbon-heavy as BCBS. I give it a 4.0" Beers that are good examples of the style I find myself especially harsh on. Yay, it's a good tripel...4.0. Now if it has chile peppers, vanilla beans and black tar heroin in it with 21% ABV, I find myself rating it higher because it's unique, strong flavored, complex, etc..

    I guess that's just the way things go, and the reason why the biggest BA stouts and DIPAs are almost universally at the top of the rankings.

    Maybe I'll give up beer for a month and try to "reset" my standards at some point.

    draheim likes this.
  34. Dope

    Dope Poo-Bah (2,257) Oct 5, 2010 Massachusetts

    Good point, I'm definitely at #1, but trying to move to #2. It's a slow process...

  35. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,686) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    “There are some beers that I would drink i.e. Rolling Rock that now I know is full of DMS, but back then was a little different.”

    Jeff, that is too funny. Rolling Rock was my beer of choice prior to jumping into the craft beer pool. When I drank it I didn’t know that if was a ‘faulty’ beer with all of that DMS. For me it was a tasty beer simply because it was different. When I started homebrewing I had a ‘deal’ with my father where he would drink Rolling Rock out of returnable bottles and he would save the bottle for me. I still have a lot of Rolling Rock returnable bottles that I use for bottling my homebrews.

    Have you had a Rolling Rock recently? I was at a party either last summer (or two summers ago) and somebody brought Rolling Rock to the party. I decided to drink one for ‘old times’. That beer was a disappointment. I am unsure whether it is because I have ‘moved on’ or whether the AB brewing of this beer is sub-par.

  36. patto1ro

    patto1ro Defender (606) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    Totally disagree. Appreciating beers for what they are is the only sane approach.
    frazbri likes this.
  37. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,223) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    I had one in tasting class about 2 years ago. It had DMS, and brought back memories. Charles Bamforth said that the AB brewers said they would learn to brew a beer with a defect when they acquired the Rolling Rock brand. I think it is much like it was.
  38. highdesertdrinker

    highdesertdrinker Disciple (351) Nov 5, 2012 Arizona
    Beer Trader

    I think you make an excellent point Jack, and that is most of the beer aficionados suffer from sensory overload when we walk into a really good bottle shop or a liquor barn like Total Wine. You walk by and see stacks and stacks of great beer at a good price like the Torpedo and Big Foot and their ilk, and then you see the various singles and crafts, and then all the imports. I just have a difficult time deciding what I want and can easily spend over an hour looking at everything they have but I have no qualms drinking Sierra Nevada, or Sam Adams or Anchor Steam once I get it home.
  39. rocdoc1

    rocdoc1 Aspirant (265) Jan 13, 2006 New Mexico

    I've been drinking the good stuff for 35 years now, since I got my first oilfield job and had disposable income. I never hesitate to try a beer I've never had, and I never consult sites like BA first because the crowd here has absolutely no ability to predict what I will or will not like. I can honestly say that even though my ability to analyze beer in a more objective way has vastly improved the past 15 years, the pleasure I get from just sitting and drinking a beer has not diminished at all.
    Like Herrburgess I've been lucky to be able to travel widely and enjoy beer in it's local setting, and I do every chance I get. One thing I have learned is that beer enjoyment is very situational and my "favorite" beer to drink while mowing the lawn will be different from when I'm grilling steaks or doing anything else. An IPA with Simcoe might be excellent beside the on the beach in Alabama, but not so great sitting on the banks of the Rhine in Koln.
    frazbri likes this.
  40. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,686) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    “I think it is much like it was.” I suspect that you are right. It is tough to find out that I can no longer drink my ‘first love’.:(


    P.S. To leave this message on a brighter note, I purchased a case of Schlitz 1960’s Formula beer a couple of summers ago. While I have absolutely no idea what a Schlitz tasted like circa 1960 I can say that I enjoyed drinking the Schlitz 1960’s Formula beer. I have not seen this beer in any of my local beer distributors in ages. Did Pabst Brewing stop making this beer? If so, that is a damn shame.
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