Ah, so, on the heels of last weeks' “Beer for Girls” I'm going to make the same mistake all over again and declare that boys suffer the same fate; of making/having assumptions made of their beer choice based on their gender.
I think that guys suffer from this in a different way to ladies. It has a lot of macho issues deeply ingrained. In the 'craft beer scene' (I apologise for the horrible phrase,) mostly, men don't seem to suffer from this so much. Dude walks in to a bar and can order pretty much anyhting, in what ever sized glass he fancies. It's in the rest of the beery world that guys seem to suddenly think that if they're seen ordering anything but “an ale”, i.e. a best bitter, or an amber, traditional brew kind of thing, or a generic macro lager, then he is suddenly less of a man. God forbid he wants anything less than a pint. Preferably two, no wait, make that three. Then he'll be three times more manly, you know.
Quite obviously that is a steaming pile of arse. As stated in the previous post taste-buds are taste-buds, and yes, you are allowed to have 'em boys. 'Cos, lets face it, crappy generic lager does in fact taste like watered down, bitter, fizzy, ditch water. And, “I'll have an ale, please” not only highlights your lack of knowledge about beer styles, but gives over your choice to a bartender (not always a bad thing) but you'll probably get the least flavourful beer available. And that's sad. Because, these guys, they don't even know. They aren't aware that things like California Common exists (almost always my first recommendation to lager drinkers.) If they know about pale ale, they don't always know it can be cooler, and carbonated and overwhelmingly tasty! They just haven't ever come across a real pilsner.
When I get these men in the shop, I get all excited trying to get them to try beers that they may enjoy, it's always fun describing the taste to them, it's often like they just didn't know that beer could taste of pine or grapefruit or mango or citrus or one of the millions of other flavours available. And, many of them look terrified. Sometimes I wish that we were able to just be able to crack open a beer or two to give samples so that these “Oh, er, I drink ale*” guys could experience something awesome! (And, then make an informed decision.)
*Seriously, like “ale” is descriptive enough for me to pick something out for you. Please. That's about, what, 75% of the entire beer production in the country, at a guess? Beer; split in to ales and lager, which have different fermentation methods. Ale doesn't narrow it down. At. All. (Sorry, sorry, rant over.)
But, this is the problem, the lack of education, and no I'm not suggesting it's put on the syllabus in schools, means that unless you stumble on a specialist bar or friendly bottle shop, and unless you ask the right question or look mildly interested, then there's no reason to even discover a better quality of beer. Drinking a third of a Black IPA at 7% isn't, sadly, going to occur to your average guy bimbling about on a Friday night, unless he's in the know.
This, however, is something I'm not willing to tackle. My quest in life is not to educate the lager lout. But, some of this programming does still hangover in to the slightly more discerning beer drinker. There are many guys who pop in to the shop and ask about one style specifically, what ever that may be. It's often IPAs or Pales. Sometimes someone only drinks porters or stouts. And, no, there is nothing at all wrong with knowing what you like. But the guys I'm chatting about are the ones who look mildly confused by the selection and focus in on something they know, and know that they like. And that is what I'm going to try and suggest our next beer for.
It isn't a 'ladies' beer, just like the Russian Imperial Stout I suggested for the ladies' post last week, isn't a man's beer for a girl. There are a lot, and I mean a lot, of men who drink sours. But, like the impy stout, it can be challenging if it's not something you're used to. If you are a chronic Fosters drinker, or have only touched Doombar in the last 5 years, then tackling a sour is going to blow your preconceptions about beer, flavour and taste out of the water. Because it is so damned different. And, hey, I'm not saying you're going to like it, not all at once, sours are an acquired taste, but this is about realising that you are in fact allowed to try something different, and the point is not to turn around to all your leering guy friends behind you at the bar, pull a face, and not try anything but boring lager because your worried they might give a s**t if you like something they don't.
Well, I realise I got pretty damn ranty about this subject. I'm not trying to say that sticking to what you know is a bad thing, except it kind of is. Even red wine drinkers occasionally try a Malbec rather than a Shiraz from time to time, y'know? I'm not sure that manliness is measured on a scale of how many cheap pints of lager you can throw down your neck, as much as it's no longer measured in how many woolly mammoths you can fell. The world's moved on a little, and drinking something with a little (or in this case, a huge amount of) flavour can only be a good thing.
So, to really put the fear of beer in to you, lets take a quick look at the beer style. Sour beer is a beer that is sour. Insane right? Now, there many different types of sour beer. Some traditional, some not so much. This is one of the not-so-much varieties. Sour IPA isn't really a thing. Hunting through the BJCP guidelines I think that 28B – Mixed Fermentation Sour Beer is the closest style to this, so that's what I'm going with.
BJCP guidelines say these things; “A sour and/or funky version of a base style of beer. Aroma: Variable by base style. The contribution of non-Saccharomyces microbes should be noticeable to strong, and often contribute a sour and/or funky, wild note. The best examples will display a range of aromatics, rather than a single dominant character. The aroma should be inviting, not harsh or unpleasant” (For full info hit up the top link to the right and find page 61 in the doc, or 75/93 of the PDF as a whole.)
The notes on flavour and mouthfeel are similar. This specific take on a sour beer is very variable. Sour beers can be produced in many different ways, and, to be frank it's a little beyond my personal brewing knowledge. None the less you can expect it to taste light and less bitter than the base style, an IPA in this case. There's gonna be hop character poking through the sourness and in this case all the gooseberry-ness too.>
Buxton – Trolltunga
So, we've already gone over how much we like Buxton in last weeks post. So I won't bore you again. If you didn't read that blog, then you know where to find it.
Mystery Sour IPA
Despite, again, not having ha a chance to crack open a bottle for myself to actually try yet, this beer keeps getting recommendations from customers telling me how awesome it is. It would be great to hear your opinions on this beer, so if you have any thoughts on it, it would be great to hear from you! Leave a comment below, or chat with us using @Brew_Bristol on twitter, or post something to our facebook page!
Aroma: Gooseberry, lime, pineapple, passion-fruit, lemon, grapefruit.
Taste: Lemon, biscuit, lime, grapefruit, zest.
Palate: Tangy, tart, sour. Dry finish. Well balanced.
Overall; A refreshing and surprisingly easy to drink beer. Loads of up front sourness and a dryer finish leaving you not too overwhelmed.
£: 3.55 but available throughout February at a 15% discount, making it £3.02, but only to men. Or, people buying it for men. Or people who have, in fact, met men.
So, I don't want to leave anyone out here. If you identify with neither or both of these run-of-the-mill genders, then your opinion, assumed likes/dislikes, and level of annoyance at genderised beers is just as valid as the next persons. Obviously.
The whole point of these two posts was to get across the idea that gender doesn't matter when it comes to drinking beer, or anything for that matter. Drink it if you like it, that's all there is to it.