Blackberry Farm

Friends of the Farm

A New Year with Beer

Aside from a handful of exceptions, it seems that most of my well-intentioned resolutions are lucky to make it to the first day of spring. However, one comes to mind that has somehow survived the better part of two decades.

It was October of 1993 and I was a college student visiting some friends in Oxford, Ohio. One of them had just returned from a semester in Belgium and was beyond enthused to share with us a beer he had experienced while in Brussels. It poured a ruddy brown and smelled of tart cherries, releasing a mouth puckering brightness that certainly got my attention. Unlike any beer I had ever experienced, he said, “just wait until it warms up a little, and all of the sweetness and body will become more noticeable.”  I must confess that my love affair with beer had already begun some two years earlier, but using words and patience to enjoy beer in this way established my foundation for my New Year’s resolution for 1994.

It was simple and enjoyable….learn more about beer and more specifically….become a better taster.

With this roadmap in hand, I have managed to stay on track and actually enjoy this resolution as I have continued to hone my palate with all beverages.  A tremendous amount of passion, love, and artistry goes into crafting many beers, wines, and spirits, and the producers who devote their life’s work to making them available to enjoy are much appreciated by an educated consumer.  What I do not advocate is overcomplicating or contributing to the “intimidation” factor of becoming a super-taster with a world renowned palate.  If this is your goal, by all means, it is a noble and worthwhile pursuit; but the everyday act of enjoyment should be well within reach if we just take a few moments to heighten our senses and become aware.  Aromas, appearance, flavor, sweetness, bitterness, softness, effervescence, and the lingering perceptions that carry on after your evaluation; all of these contribute to a greater enjoyment of fine beverages.

Beer has been the focus of my life long pursuit to become a better taster, and I can say unequivocally that it has been the most rewarding and enjoyable resolution I’ve ever been able to keep to myself.  I’m not saying you should drop the important health, wellness, nutrition, family, and career oriented resolutions on your list this year, but add becoming a better taster to your list…I’m guessing it’s one you’ll be able to keep…and you’ll be glad you did.

Roy Milner, Brewery