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Friends I've Lost To Beer

I didn't realise that a get together with some old mates would result in the split it did. What had I done? What had happened? Surely it wasn't my fault?

It was a Saturday morning in 2011 and I was preparing for a beer tasting at my place. Keen friends had been briefed to bring two beers from their allocated Australian state which were to be in a brown paper bag. Only the host was to be privy to the beers that were going to be tasted that afternoon. All was going to plan and as each guest arrived they quickly made their way behind the kitchen bench to surreptitiously hand over the beers so they could safely make their way into the fridge without being seen.

As all the guests arrived, tasting sheets were handed around and the tasting commenced. It went very well and each beer was well received except for the odd dud. It was great to spend time with good mates, talking about each beer and discuss the flavour profiles, appearance, aroma and mouth-feel. It was also pretty new to us all. We had never before had an extensive blind tasting particularly with such good quality beers. The grand reveal at the end was beautifully theatrical with cheers and jeers as each beer hero and villain was put on the kitchen bench in rank order. Some surprises were there and some revelations. Were we really all so susceptible to marketing? Judging by the reactions, the answer was an emphatic 'Yes!'

As we wound down the afternoon and people left with big handshakes and warmth, I was feeling pretty proud of myself for hosting. In work on the Monday, everyone was full of conversation and talking about the next time we would do the tasting again. However, it was in the following few weeks I got the grief that I was not expecting.

Bit by bit, the friends who were so enthusiastic at the tasting started to turn. 'Ian, you've ruined beer for me' they would say. 'I can't drink at the footy anymore. That stuff is terrible.' Other comments ranged from people who had bought slabs of mainstream lagers and were lamenting that they were still sat there 'until I get desperate'. The beer tasting had opened up a door that could no longer be shut. Palates had been enlivened to the point of no return. No longer could these guys attend a party, a sports match or a gig without peering into the fridges to check that there was something 'drinkable'. I had lost them. Or more so, beer had lost them. Beer had been lying to them. They didn't know it could taste so good. Or taste of anything. They were upset. But thankfully, I did have one partner of a guest comment that she was very happy with me. 'He takes his time now and doesn't drink as much. Thanks'. Vindication? I'll take it.

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