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Cheers! North County Columns Food & Wine

What to do with bad beer? Dump it

You might remember we started the Cheers! North County year off with some beer resolutions, including this one:

Drink Less Beer, but Drink Better Beer: That’s better. I drink a lot of beer, and, frankly, I don’t always really enjoy it. Sometimes I drink beer just because it is there. Sometimes I drink it while doing other things. I crack the can. Enjoy that first sip, and then all of a sudden, it is gone.

In 2022, I plan to make time to appreciate more than just that first sip. Brewers are craftspeople, and I resolve to treat their creations with the respect they deserve from start to finish. I may end up drinking less beer as I take more time to appreciate the good stuff* and that’s okay.

I’ve been doing a pretty good job living up to this. When the sun is out, I take a can of local craft picked up from one of our fine breweries or local beverage shops out of the fridge and head out onto the patio. I turn on some music (think Willie Nelson, Ray Charles or both). I listen to the crack-pfft that occurs when I open the can. I soak in the aroma: sticky hops or sweet malt.

This is about the moment when I negotiate with the dog. He is trying to figure out why I’m paying so much more attention to my can of beer than him. After a few pats and scratches, I lift the can to my lips and take a healthy first swig. I spread the beer across my tongue and let the flavors fill my mouth before swallowing. I let myself enjoy the heat of the sun, the flavor of the beer, and the sound of the hummingbirds fighting for sugar.

Except when I don’t because the beer isn’t good. Now what?

This past weekend I was confronted by that very conundrum. It doesn’t often happen when drinking San Diego, but the beer was not good. It wasn’t afflicted by common off-flavors caused during the brewing process. It wasn’t due to freshness — both beers were brewed less than 30 days prior — and it wasn’t lightstruck or skunky.

It was just bad. Now, I have acknowledged many times that what I might enjoy and what you might enjoy may not be the same, but generally speaking, I can tell if a beer is well-made and or of a high caliber that just isn’t for me. This beer was neither. It was a West Coast-style IPA like none I have ever tasted.

After taking that first (typically glorious) first swig, I was left trying to decide if I really wanted to take another. I did because I believe in second chances. The second drink was worse than the first. These were the beers that I pulled from the cooler after reading labels, comparing styles, and trying to decide if I should try something new or follow through on another beer resolution to drink a repeat beer. Now what? What would you do?

I decided to add my list of beer resolutions. The newest 2022 beer resolution is:

Dump It Out: If I am not enjoying a beer, I’ll dump it out. We only get so many beers in a lifetime. I’m committed to enjoying the time I spend drinking a beer, and I don’t want to create negative neural pathways that discourage me from drinking other craft beers. That’s science. I think. I’m not a scientist.

I took what remained of the tallboy can back into the house, walked to the sink, and flipped it upside down over the drain. The 22-year old version of me would have been horrified. It hurt a little bit, but it also felt liberating. No longer will the compulsive side of my brain obligate me to finish a beer just because I’ve opened the can.

After crushing the can, I opened the fridge to discover another problem. I was out of beer. Luckily, there was a bottle of sweet vermouth in the door, and I keep a bottle of Pacific Coast Spirits White Rye Whiskey on the liquor cabinet.

I settled down onto the patio lounger. The sun was just beginning to head towards the horizon. The ice in my Manhattan made a lovely clinking sound in time with Willie, and the dog rested his head on my knee.

Stream the Roast! West Coast coffee podcast on the Coast News Podcast page, and be sure to follow and share your drinking adventures with Cheers! North County on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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