This is Rachel. Rachel is awesome. She raises bees and chickens. She makes her own pickles and preserves. She is also a really, really nice person. But Rachel has one fatal flaw. She hates beer. I don’t mean that she just doesn’t like it. I mean she flat out hates it.
But you know what. I refused to believe it. Because like you, I know that beer covers a really, really big range of styles and flavors and I was pretty certain that she just hadn’t found the beer that was right for her yet.
So with a little planning we decided to put this theory to the test. At the latest gathering of The Franklin Society (our parish beer/homebrew club) we assembled an epic lineup which I was certain would get Rachel to rethink her opinions about our favorite beverage.
We tried to cover all the bases. We started with a straight forward beer- Half Acre Daisy Cutter. No bret, not wet hops, no bourbon barrels, no blood orange, no rosemary. You know- the kind of think you drink and say- “Yep, that’s beer.” This was not for Rachel but rather to help the rest of us to establish a baseline for the kind of flavors that we knew she didn’t like.
From there we moved into lighter, fruitier and/or sour flavors. This included Steigl Grapefruit Radler, Lindermans Framboise, Lancaster Strawberry Wheat, an Oude Gueuze, DFH Namaste, Fraoch Heather Ale and a Pear Saison from Tired Hands.
We had some measured success here. Rachel didn’t hate the Radler, Framboise or the Gueuze. She didn’t like them particularly but they didn’t lead her to grimace and dump the rest. Interestingly the veteran beer lovers had no use for the Radler or Framboise because there was nothing beery about them. We were surprised that she still picked up strong “beer” flavors from the Namaste which we thought might have also been more appealing since it was so light and spiced. Yet to her it was still bitter.
The next round got into some heavier flavors and higher alcohol and included DFH Positive Contact, Troegs LaGrave Triple, a Lemoncello IPA from Siren/Hill Farm/ Mikeller, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, DFH Noble Rot and DFH Theobroma. Overall this round was far less successful. With the exception of the Lemoncello IPA and the Noble Rot the “beery” flavors kept overwhelming the rest of the experience for her. We thought it was pretty interesting that she liked the Lemoncello since the hops were not only very prominent but also very catty which was a bit of a turn off for some.
After a good palate cleansing we headed into the home stretch which was an epic mix of big ABV’s and big flavors. We started with a Founder’s Nemesis from 2010. It was a long shot but I was banking on the paradox effect. At 12% ABV and 100 IBU’s this beer is a bitter but balanced monster. Turns out my instinct was right- Mikey liked it. The aging may well have helped here since it really helped integrate the flavors.
I was feeling pretty good as we popped the Rochefort 10. One of my all-time favorites I have used it before to convert self-professed beer haters. Yet this time I was wrong. She didn’t hate it but even with all the rich dried fruit flavors Rachel still tasted beer. This brought us around to the closers. We started with a 2012 Lost Abbey Deliverance which is aged in both bourbon and brandy barrels. Now it may have been the cumulative effect of the previous rounds but for the first time Rachel moved from tolerating to actually liking a beer. The flavors of the barrels definitely had a hand in this success.
A 2012 Bourbon County Stout closed us out and again, Rachel actually liked it. The aging helped minimize any bitterness and the rich complexity won her over.
By this point in the evening we were all plenty happy and everyone, especially Rachel, had a great time. And I think paying close attention to the flavors and listening to how she perceived them taught the rest of us a thing or two. In retrospect we wish we had also included DFH Midas Touch, a Flemish Red and a completely oxidized treasure like Utopia or Baladin Xyauyu, but heck, nobody’s perfect.
Of course none of the beers she liked was of the sessionable variety. In most cases you’d only want half the bottle and then only with food or as an after dinner treat. Even so, we proved the point, And while you will never see her with a pale ale in her hand, we are proud to say that Rachel no longer hates beer.
What about you? Have you ever successfully challenged preconceptions or better yet converted a beer-hater? If so, please share you story.