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During college, I HATED beer. I was the guy that brought his own bottle of wine (started with Boones and worked my way up to Gallo and Paul Masson) to parties because I'd rather lick the side of a urinal than drink the beer from the keg. When I would HAVE to get a beer, I'd go with a Corona, Miller Genuine Draft, or a Rolling Rock...yes, and usually with a lime in the neck of the bottle.

Recently, I've been tasked with building a website for beer reviews. I decided to reopen my willingness to drink beer while pursuing this endeavor. I want to give beer a chance. I want to try a whole spectrum of styles and see what I definitely need to avoid and what are actual beer options I would enjoy to drink.

A few weeks ago, I got permission from work to buy a 6-pack variety each week on the company credit card to help me add comments/scores to the beers on the site as it gets going and tries to pull in an audience. My first 6-pack contained:

Two beers from Huntsville's own Straight to Ale Brewery - Monkeynaut IPA and Sand Island Light House (a kolsch)
Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale
Well's Banana Bread Beer
Dale's Pale Ale
SweetWater Blue (blueberry-flavored beer)

I had really high hopes for the Monkeynaut IPA. IPAs seem to be really popular and there are a lot of them available for trying, so I was hoping for some enjoyment. When seeking advice a year ago about local and regional beers, folks praised Monkeynaut as one of their favorite beers. I poured the Monkeynaut into a tumbler, took a sniff, and fell in love. The sweetness of toffee and other characteristics of the smell were spectacular. It was the best beer moment for me EVAR. Then...I took a sip. BLECH! OMG! SOOOOoooooo nasty! I regained my composure after a minute or two, took another deep breath (with my nose hovering just over the remaining head), and was filled with joy again. After a moment, I knew* Blah! Blah! I have now renamed my puckering face to be my "beer face" from my dislike for the bitterness.

While none of the other beers had such a delightful smell as the Monkeynaut, my experience of loving the smell and then disliking the bitterness and flavor has been repeated with many of the beers I've sampled in the past month. The most annoying part to me is that the only beers that I finished completely were the two fruity ones. Blue was okay, but I really liked the Well's Banana Bread Beer. I didn't love it, but it was my favorite beer...until this weekend.

I bought a new sampler on Friday and things have had a nice change since then. This time I grabbed:

Three Philosophers
La Fin du Monde
Founders Centennial IPA
Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout
Rogue Dead Guy Ale
Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale

I feel a lot better about beer now. Friday night I waited and waited for the Three Philosophers to warm up after finding the garage fridge was hovering just over freezing. The wait was rewarded with my favorite beer experience yet. Sure, the high ABV was a bit of a kick to my pants, but I really enjoyed the full experience of drinking it. After the first gulp, I don't think my face made any movements anywhere close to a pucker. I finished my bottle and wanted another. The situation was nearly the same the next night when I tried the La Fin du Monde. Sure, the quad and tripel are accentuated by fruit flavors, but it's not like these are Shocktop fruit beers...right?

When I was at Liquor Express on Friday, I told the guy my experience with Monkeynaut IPA - especially my love for the smell. He told me to try the Founders Centennial IPA and if I didn't like that, then IPAs probably weren't for me. Last night I tried and it, yeah, IPAs are not for me.

Right now, I'm drinking the Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout. I'm enjoying this more the more I drink it and the warmer it gets. I'm particularly fond of how the chocolate, coffee, and tobacco flavors are balanced. When I lick my lips, I get a similar taste as I get later in the day after I've had a good cigar.

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Cory Berry

June 2016

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