Yesterday I posted about the evolution of the beer geek. At the top of the evolutionary chain sits Geeko Sapien, the experienced and open minded craft beer drinker who doesn’t take him/herself too seriously.
I like to think I’m a Geeko Sapien, but just because I might be at the top of the evolutionary ladder doesn’t mean I’ve stopped evolving. My recent experience with Southern Tier’s Krampus, an Imperial Helles Lager they brew for the Christmas season, made it perfectly clear to me that a true beer geek is always learning and growing.
Southern Tier hasn’t changed a thing about Krampus, it’s still a hop-forward malt bomb with a dry Germanic finish. It’s a very good beer, but last year I was really disappointed by it. But that was 12 months ago, and a few things have changed since the first time I tried Krampus.
First off, I started brewing my own beer. Now, I’ve only managed to crank out a couple of batches (I’m more of a drinker than a doer, I think), but brewing has given me some important insights about beer that I lacked a year ago. The one that applies here is an appreciation for the flavor of malt. Before brewing it was a lot harder to taste what went into a beer. After brewing and tasting raw ingredients, my palate is infinitely more informed.
This has lead to the second important development since the last time I had Krampus – I’ve developed an appreciation for lagers and pilsners. Brewing opened the door for me to truly taste these more-delicate styles of beer, and I quickly came to love brews like Victory Lager and Prima Pils, and Voodoo Brewery’s excellent Pilzilla. A year ago a helles lager (even an aggressive one like Krampus) was a bit of a bore. Now I can truly appreciate what goes into a beer like this.
The third and most important development is that I fell in love with Troegs Mad Elf. I know it sounds odd, but it’s the thing that matters most here. You see, I spent the better part of last year looking for a holiday seasonal beer that tasted like Christmas, but I kept striking out. Krampus was one of those beers that missed this mark. But then I found Mad Elf (review here) and knew I had found my go-to holiday treat. With my Christmas beer found, the pressure was off, and I was free to enjoy the other holiday seasonals for the beers they were, even if they don’t taste a damn thing like Christmas.
Understanding that a lot has changed since last year, I tried Krampus again with an open mind. And I liked it. It didn’t blow me away, but its spicy character and aggressive maltiness were a nice treat on a Saturday night.
The moral of the story is that sometimes you just have to let a beer come to you. I like to occasionally go back and try beers I didn’t like in the past to see if my outlook and appetites have changed enough to appreciate them. In many cases, like old Krampus here, I find something new to like.
So I guess just like man, the beer geek is an ever evolving creature. Maybe one day soon I’ll lose this silly tail. It makes my office chair uncomfortable!