Look, being a beer reviewer for a newspaper does have a downside.
I can hear the cynical jibes already. ‘‘Yes, I’m sure getting sent free beer to drink must be so tough for you, petal. How ever do you manage?’’.
Yes, getting sent free beer – sometimes as much as a whole case – is pretty frigging cool in anyone’s language. As is getting to meet the brewers of said beer at festivals and other functions and have them treat you as a professional of sorts.
But there is a downside. Granted, it’s a small downside when compared to the big upside. But a downside nonetheless.
And that is that I end up being sent stuff that I wouldn’t be likely to buy for myself. And then I have to review it – and do so in a fair fashion. So if I were to review, say a mainstream lager, my personal taste might have me thinking ‘‘My God, this is an ordinary, thoroughly tasteless beer’’ I can’t really review it like that.
Instead I need to approach the beer on its own merits and not on what I’d rather be drinking. I think of the review in the same way I approached movie reviews (yes, I did them for a fair while too). I’d always felt it was unfair to criticise, say the Transformers movies, for being a big, dumb action flick that was little more than a lot of giant robots fighting and shots of Megan Fox running in slow motion, bra-less.
Because, really, that’s exactly what it aspired to be. So to complain that it wasn’t more cerebral, more dramatic and had more bra-wearing was just simply unfair. Instead, it was important to judge the film with it’s own ‘‘giant fighting robot and jiggling Megan Fox’’ genre.
The same goes for beer – it’s not right to review a mainstream beer and criticise it for not being flavoursome like a craft beer. It’s not trying to be a craft beer.
This thought was brought up after reviewing the three new Strongbow Summer Fruits flavoured ciders over the last day or so. I’m no fan of ciders in general – don’t even bother looking at that section in the bottle shop. I just find them all too sweet and largely targeted at teenage girls.
But, when reviewing them, I have to keep an open mind and focus on what the drinks actually are like rather than what I might wish them to be. Because while I might not like the stuff, there are certainly readers who do and would appreciate a bit of an insight into what they’re like.
Which resulted in me figuring the mango/passionfruit to easily be the best of the three because it’s less sweet that those of the Rekorderlig variety while the pear cider with raspberry/strawberry was the worst. Tasted like I was drinking weak raspberry cordial.
The other one – the strawberry/kiwi mix – sat in the middle. While it was palatable to begin with, the ever-so-slightly too sweet nature of the drink became too much by the end.
Tonight, I look forward to getting back to drinking beer.
Categories: Beer critic