Observations of a beer dummy
Six local beers, one uninformed writer and a blind taste test: What could go right?
Confession time, Sacramento: I’m not that into beer.
I mean, it’s fine. But I’ve got a small bladder, sensitive esophagus and dull palate. I’m just not built to appreciate the innovative fruits of our rich and growing brew scene.
So why did SN&R task me with judging a blind taste test between six local beers that I couldn’t pick out of a police lineup? Maybe my much more knowledgeable colleagues pitied my Goldilocks flavor profile and hoped to expand my horizons. Or maybe they just wanted to get me buzzed at work. (Yeah, probablee that lasst wun.)
Beer 1: The group chuckles at my first salient observation: “smells good.” Great start. But, yeah, this one goes down like chilled amber. A strong first bite to establish its presence, but less aggressive with each sip. It also doesn’t overstay its welcome on the tongue. Which is important to me. I’m guessing an IPA.
Would I buy this at a bar? Yes. But probably just the one, and then segue to something less full-bodied.
Revealed as: Integral IPA from Device Brewing Co.
Ridiculous Raheemism: “When I swallow faster, it tastes better.”
Beer 2: Mildewed champagne smell, a little metallic, like someone melted a penny into a vat of unripe grapefruit peels.
Would I buy this at a bar? No. But I would take a sip off someone else’s glass so I could ridicule them from an informed place.
Revealed as: French Saison from New Glory Craft Brewery
Ridiculous Raheemism: “It feels like a whiny beer.”
Beer 3: Copy editor Anthony Siino first notices the hint of marshmallow perfume that wafts the back of your throat. Aside from that little flourish, this beer is completely inoffensive. In contrast to the first beer, this one is like a guest who leaves too early. Would I buy this at a bar? Only if I could use the sense of money.
Revealed as: California Dry Hop Lager from Sudwerk Brewing Co.
Ridiculous Raheemism: “It’s like … drinking the sense of beer.”
Beer 4: Siino nails the wet cat food odor. Having just adopted a kitten, my guess is Iams’ Tempt Me Tuna & Mackerel Dinner Flaked in Sauce. Co-editor Rachel Leibrock and Arts & Culture Editor Janelle Bitker enjoy the astringent flavor, but it makes my face buckle. I now know what a chilled urinal cake tastes like.
Would I buy this at a bar? Not only would I not buy it, I wouldn’t kiss anyone who did.
Revealed as: Wild Meadow from Mraz Brewing Co.
Ridiculous Raheemism: “It’s coated my tongue and won’t leave. … I feel like it’s dipped in wuchh.”
Beer 5: Oracle of first impressions Siino calls this one a “high-end Tootsie Roll.” Co-editor Nick Miller calls it “roasty,” I’m tasting crisp black malt and a hint of absinthe. I think I’m getting the hang of being a pretentious critic.
Would I buy this at a bar? I typically avoid browns, but this one could bridge my timid palate to the dark side.
Revealed as: Bigwig Brown nut brown ale from Jackrabbit Brewing Co.
Ridiculous Raheemism: “I would approve of someone who likes this beer.”
Beer 6: Darker and more potent than the last, its smoky flavor is reminiscent of the first time I tried Johnny Walker Black. But no gagging this time.
Would I buy this at a bar? These last two beers are a tad outside my comfort zone, but I feel like people with more sophisticated palates would enjoy them—a.k.a. everyone reading this.
Revealed as: Milk Stout from Bike Dog Brewing Co.
Ridiculous Raheemism: “Kind of that ash tray [flavor], but not in a negative way.”
My favorite: Integral IPA
Runner-up: Bigwig Brown