I hate to admit it, but I have girly tastebuds. Apparently women are more likely to have taste buds with an extremely high sensitivity to various flavours, particularly bitter tasting substances. This explains why women tend not to like beer as much as men, and also be more inclined to like sweet stuff. I'm a bloke, but I happen to have this same taste sensitivity, which is why I've never had a particularly great affinity for beer. As a kid I remember this disgustingly bitter nail polish called 'stopzit' or some such thing which could be applied to young nails to prevent nail biting. To me, most beer tends to remind me of this stuff. As I've grown older I've become a bit more tolerant, and if the beer is cold enough and the day is hot enough, or I'm thirsty enough, I'll drink it, but beer fan I'm not, and never will be.
In this context, as a non beer lover, it was rather curious going out to the Summer Beerfest at Drylands Restaurant. The event was billed as a family event, and as a dad of a four month old who has had her share of health problems, I haven't exactly been getting out a lot lately. We decided to go as a family and it seems as though plenty of other families had the same idea. There were families in all directions and not a policeman in sight, yet everyone seemed to be completely orderly in spite of the crowd.
The event was about beer, but these were craft beers, in other words expensive beers that you'd need a deep wallet to get drunk on, but there to be appreciated by true beer lovers. Samples were available in exchange for a reasonable $2 token in quantities which were appropriate for getting acquainted with a beer, and ideal if you were't sure whether you'd like the beer or not. In spite of a bit of trepedation at how my tastebuds would react to an assault of hoppy bitterness, I decided it would be mind over mouth, and I'd give my best shot at sampling a few brews to see if craft brews really could create a more positive impression than the regular mass produced varieties.
I was particularly keen to try some dark beers, as my wife Rosimere had told me that they can be nice, and she's not a big beer fan either, so I thought they might be an option for my fussy beer unfriendly palate. I managed to get through four beers in the end before time, and my aversion to the bitterness of hops finally overcame my mental determination to sample the wares. In the end, I did manage to pick a winner though of the three dark beers and one medium beer I sampled.
As a non beer drinker, I have to give a special mention to Sprig & Fern's Dopplebock. I can best describe this as a port of beers. Anyone who knows me knows I love a good port. So much so that I frantically had to try to discard luggage to avoid a €500 excess baggage charge at Lisbon airport a couple of years ago, primarily due to the amount of port wine I was bringing home with me. Just as many ports are rich, dark, a bit sweet, a bit more alcoholic than ordinary wines and very smooth, Dopplebock has all these characteristics in a beer. As a non beer expert, I don't know whether there's such a thing as a dessert beer, but Dopplebock would fit the bill if there isn't. Due to its richness (and probably price), it's not the kind of beer you'd consume in huge quantities, but then it's such an unforgettable experience you don't need to down lots to enjoy it. At least it's convinced me that there is more to beer than just different shades of bitterness.
As any good host of an alcoholic festival should, the organisers had food on sale as well, however I was a little disappointed at the selection and cost. $6 for a smallish scoop of chips, even if there are a half dozen sauces to drown them in and they are presented in a biodegradable potato plate is pretty exhorbitant. I suppose if I'd eaten the plate I'd have got better value for money, and honestly for the price, I'm regretting that I didn't. It's not that they were bad chips, but they were just chips, nothing more, nothing less.
It's hard to know what organisers were expecting, but numbers probably far exceeded expectations. Given the success of the Summer Beerfest in 2012, it's almost inevitable that there will be another one in 2013, although given the numbers, the powers that be may have a bit to say about traffic flow and so on, and if the numbers are any higher, then the venue could be an issue. On the other hand, an expectation of a good turnout could lead to a bit more variety of food and with certainty of high turnover, possibly slightly more realistic prices. Dietmar Schnarre and his team and all the breweries present deserve to be congratulated on their efforts to put this inaugural event together, as do the punters who demonstrated that 'civilised beer drinker' is not an oxymoron.