Beer critic

Is it the beer, or is it me?

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A very small part of my day job as a journalist involves writing about beer.
It’s something I put my had up to do about 18 months ago because I like beer. And, if I’m being completely honest, I saw it as a way to get some free beers sent my way.
One of the things I had to do last year was create a one-page wrap of recommendations of beers for summer. And of course they had a very heavy craft beer slant. Because I don’t think any more people need to be pushed in the direction of the likes of VB, Carlton Draught or the terribly named Arvo.
Among the 20 or so beers I did include was Little Creatures’ Bright Ale. Here’s what I wrote about it.

‘‘Little Creatures calls it ‘sunshine in a glass’ and that’s about right. It boasts a pleasing colour, a great fruit salad aroma and a taste that’s also fruity – especially passionfruit. In fact, it reminded me a little of the soft drink Passiona.’’

Sounds great doesn’t it? Because it was – I can distinctly remember enjoying that beer (though that ‘‘Passiona’’ reference is confusing. I don’t remember it being that fruity).
So the section editor has asked me to do the summer beer thing again this year (for the record – I just write about the beers I like. It’s not like I’m an expert or anything). So I put out the feelers to some brewers to see if they wanted to send me some stuff. They certainly did, bless their brewing hearts.
One of them was Little Creatures, who posted over a few bottles of bright ale as well as some White Rabbit White Ale. And so I eagerly cracked open a bright ale, keen for those passionfruit flavours.
Damned if I could find them anywhere. The dominant flavour was of malt, which made me think it was more like a lager than an ale.
It left me wondering what happened between last year and this year. Had Little Creatures changed the recipe? Doubt it – while I know breweries tinker with brews (either openly or in secret), I can’t imagine they’d dumb the beer down as much as this.
Which leads me to the other conclusion – I’ve changed. That review would have been written about six months into my self-imposed beer education (which started when I began writing about beer). So chances are my beer palate was very new and easily impressed, causing me to rave about a beer that must have been quite different from what I was used to.
However, 18 months later and my beer palate has been considerably broadened. So my lack of interest in bright ale this time around may well be because it’s not that impressive when stacked up to a lot of the other beers I’ve had since.
Guess it lends some support to a theory I’ve been thinking about for a while now. There’s the claim that, once you’ve gone from mainstream beer to craft beer, you can’t go back. But I’d been wondering if the same applies to those early craft beers you loved. Is it also true that, as you travel down the craft beer road, you can’t go back to those beers you loved at the start of the journey?
Can you always appreciate them like you did at the start? Or do they appear ordinary when compared to all the beers you’ve had since?

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