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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Beer. The new wine.

First there were wine geeks and all their "secret" terminology and rating systems.   Now it's hitting tea, coffee, and beer.   Yes, my latest coffee is Kona Joe's Trellis Reserve which must be better than their regular stuff because it cost more and it's grown on a trellis system just like wine!   And all those varieties of tea available--you can't just buy Lipton. You've got to choose between breakfast tea, green teas, chamomile, oolong, etc.

The U.S. and Canada (see, I remembered to mention Canada) have over a thousand craft breweries.   This trend started in the '80s a few years after wine got trendy.   Until then you had your choice of a half-dozen macro-brewed beers that all pretty much tasted the same.


You have wine geeks and beer geeks.  As yet I haven't heard of coffee geeks but you might want to check with Seattle.


In the last few years beer alcohol levels have been rising in response to some wanting fuller, sweeter brews.  Does this sound like the New World wine trend of the last dozen years?


There are beer websites, of course, where you argue to your heart's content about what beer style is best and you can rate them using the 100 point scale.  Even Wine Enthusiast magazine did a recent list of the 25 best beers.   Just like any top wine list anyone reading this will note glaring omissions of the beers they like.


As with wine when you talk with beer geeks they use terms that mean nothing to most people:  Aroma hops, bitterness units, cask-conditioned, dry hopping, and wort.


Many micro-brews come in 22 oz bottles or even 750ml wine-sized bottles at $10-up.  Six- and 12-packs generally work out to over one dollar a bottle.


I've even seen vintage dating.  Trader Joe's new seasonal beer is labeled "2010 Vintage Ale" and it's pretty good (made by a micro-brewery in Quebec).  You have to like some of the names beer people come up with for their brews as they generally take themselves a bit less seriously than winemakers. Beers like:  Arrogant Bastard, Great Lakes Burning River (remember Cleveland?), Hop Stoopid and Polygamy Porter (from Utah, of course).


I've even seen websites starting to write about beer/food pairing (what? there's more than sausages?)


But if we've geeked-up wine, beer and now coffee and tea then what's next?   I think chocolate is well on it's way...