I took my annual holiday road trip to see family, and like any good beer geek I made a pit stop for beer.  On my itinerary were two breweries I have become quite familiar with, The Brew Kettle and Great Lakes Brewing Company.  The Brew Kettle was first on my list and my mission was simple: a quick lunch and a case of beer to go.  I often research beer or ask about a beer before I buy it.  The Brew Kettle’s reputation is good enough that I am not worried about quality.  I am concerned about how a beer hits my taste buds.  I saw their Spalt Bomb Pils both on tap and in bottles.  I ordered a sample and gave it a try.  While a good beer, Spalt Bomb was not for me.  I did grab a Black Gold Porter that was untried, with no recommendation or idea what it was.

One day I  decided I needed to stop working and start writing.  I went to the fridge and debated which beer would suit my mood.  A porter sounded nice.  I grabbed the bottle of Black Gold Porter and searched BeerAdvocate.  No reviews!  Same result at Ratebeer.  How was I supposed to know what this was?  What was I supposed to taste?  Is there a special glass I should use?  What about pairings?  What no information Brew Kettle’s website either?

I know you are all sitting there saying “It’s a porter dumbass, just shut up and drink.”  You are probably right, but drinking for me has become such an intellectual exercise.  I often take styles as a guideline, and not a given.  For example, pick up a beer like Dale’s Pale Ale from Oskar Blues.  You probably expect to taste something along the lines of a Sierra Nevada.  Dale’s is a favorite of mine, but in my opinion should be categorized as an IPA.  Firestone Walker’s Union Jack IPA is a much more comparable brew to Dale’s.  The label lacked any indication of flavors or alcohol content.  You all know my thoughts on what would be in a perfect label.  I had no idea what I would be drinking as I took my first sip.

I was happy with my beer.  I enjoyed my beer.  While I would buy Black Gold Porter again, I doubt I would serve it to friends.  I like knowing what I am doing.  I like knowing I am using the right glass, and that the alcohol content isn’t going to result in a drunken guest.  Before I publish a beer review I “peer review” it by comparing my tasting to a random sampling of online reviews.  If I was way off you never see the review, although I don’t make as many mistakes now as I used to.

So yes, the unexplored beer is worth drinking, if for nothing than the thought that you might be one of the few to ever drink this beer.



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  1. GLBCMAS says:

    I have learned no beer from Italy is ever worth spending money on unless you can see reviews. If I would of been able to read reviews online about a beer that said hints of green pepper I would of passed. Yuck!

  2. Loren says:

    Heck yeah bay-bee keep them cinomg!

  3. Anonymous says:

    “No reviews!” …”How was I supposed to know what this was?”

    Wow I thought you were kidding. A pleasure of mine is in discovering new brews. This close minded drivel is pointless. Keep drinking what beer advocate tells you.

    • SmallTimeDrinker says:

      I do enjoy discovering new beer. However, I do think a brewery should at least put more information out there. Whether it be on the bottle or a brewery website. I think knowing something about a beer is important. Descriptions keep people from buying something they won’t like. Almost like going to a restaurant ordering a chef’s special and finding out it is filet of sole and you hate filet of sole.

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