Saison – A gateway beer.

I’ve never had a problem enjoying beer. Sure there have been some styles that have been confronting at first but it’s been a fairly smooth adjustment to appreciating what makes that style tick. I consider myself fortunate in that respect, however, others are not so lucky to have departed on their own never ceasing journey of discovery through the craft beer wonderland. Some are long set in their ways with their preferences and dislikes. There are those who are more than happy to stick with what they know and are perfectly content to remain in their comfort zone. There are also those who know there’s something worth trying with craft beer but have not developed the taste nor know where to start. One of the key goals at Ben’s Brew Tours is to assist in getting you started on your own journey of discovery.

I’ve been fortunate in who I’ve wound up sharing half of everything with, well that statement isn’t entirely accurate, I receive less than half the wardrobe space, in fact the habitable space for my clothes has been dwindling so fast I’ve been receiving messages of support from polar bears. Minor gripes aside I’ve been lucky to be with her, especially considering she’s much better looking, more talented, more intelligent and a million times less prone to exaggeration than me, she’s also allowed me to test out what actually helps someone go from complete rejection of all things beer to actively choosing beer over other beverages.

For many years, if she wasn’t drinking stronger spirits or cocktails then her drink of choice would always be wine, beer was never an option. What started to turn her attitudes was her discovery (with some encouragement from me) of cider upon moving to London. There she began trying the standard choices like Bulmers and strong bow but soon progressed to more locally produced brands. As she developed her palate for cider she became more agreeable to the yeasty, beery taste present in local artisan ciders. Unfortunately it was still a step too far to progress from ciders to beer. Salvation was at hand though in the form of the highly effervescent Saison, a style of pale ale with high levels of fruit, spice and carbonation, giving it a somewhat champagne feel when on the tongue. It strikes the perfect balance between beer, cider and sparkling wine, making it what I call a gateway beer, similar to hash being a gateway drug, or hands in your pockets being a gateway to blindness. Launching from this style of beer she moved through different styles, going from lambics to sours, porters to more general pale ales. There’s been bumps along the way, she’s still not keen on hoppy beers, but she’s well down the road on her journey, discovering the incredible styles out there and the many variations on those styles. And that’s what it’s all about really.

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