Of course, there are many, many things that I love about beer. The taste, the variety, the colour, the aroma, the history...I could go on (and given this is a blog, I probably should). But let's get to the point.
The best thing about beer is it goes off. It stagnates. It turns. To my mind, this is the best thing about beer, hands down.
Of course, I have been on the wrong side of beers that were past their best, mistreated, spoiled and just lost their true essence. Numerous times I have got home, cracked a beer and only then looked at the date. Even more disappointing, is buying a slab on special, only to realise on the first sniff, that there was a reason it was on special. Thankfully there are some moves in the industry to help the consumer in this area. The largest family owned Australian brewery, Cooper's, print a 'Best After' date on every bottle giving some help in the age of the beer whereas the American Stone Brewing in Escondido, actively buy back there beer from retailers if it is past its best. Also, I'm encouraged by the trend to put beer in a can to protect it and keep it at its best for as long as possible. Unlike the clear bottles of Newcastle Brown Ale that Reese mentioned in our pilot podcast. Not to mention the boom in 'can art' that the craft beer scene has witnessed in the last couple of years. There are also some beers which I really wish I could cellar* and keep for a while or save for friends who have promised to visit Australia in three years time. If only beer got better with age...!
The fact that beer goes off is such a marvellous thing. It means that beer can never be like wine. Not that beer would want to turn into wine, only biblical water has that aspiration. The fact that beer does have a 'best before' guideline means that it can not rise in price like wine does. It means it will never be prized like an old whisky or wine that keeps going up with each year the clock ticks over. Beer is there to drink. Now! And as local to the brewery as possible! By and large, beer will never be an 'investment' and I think every beer drinker is so much the richer for that fact, both literally and metaphorically.
So the next time you are burned by a beer that has gone off, spend a moment to rejoice. You are a beer drinker. Beer goes off. Beer is democratic. Beer is for the people. For every bad beer, you'll enjoy many more good ones and still won't spend close to the price of a auld dusty bottle of alcoholic Ribena.
*Of course there are beers you can cellar and age very nicely but clearly they are in the minority (and don't fit the narrative of my argument so I'll overlook them for this particular post!)