When I first dove into the magic that is the craft beer world I was hesitant. A simple witbier or Belgian ale was all I needed as far as beer styles go. I was especially deterred from trying any kind of stout, porter, or IPA offered to me. I had only just started trying craft beer; at the time I started this, white wine was my go-to beverage (my family is big on making and drinking good wine). I had tried a stout or IPA here and there at friends’ houses but usually only turned toward them if it was the only option. Three years later though, it’s safe to say I feel differently.
When I started News on Brews in 2014 my biggest inspiration was to learn more
about the brewing industry and beer itself. After going on my first brewery tour at
Allagash Brewing Company I began to realize how many brewing possibilities were
out there. We continued our beer-ventures that day to Foundation Brewing
Company and Austin Street Brewery, located practically across the street from
Allagash, and they were pretty IPA heavy. That day I felt like I tasted a lot of the
same thing as the day went on.
After that trip I returned to Philadelphia and began to research the craft beer scene in that area for a while. From then on nearly the first thing I did when I found out I was traveling somewhere was look into what breweries and taprooms were in the area we were visiting. Slowly I became more open to visiting breweries and trying new styles that I wasn’t necessarily familiar with or that I thought I wouldn’t like very much, but I tried them anyway and continue to do so to this day.
Just last week I had a beer that made me take a step back and wonder “what was I
thinking three years ago?!” and that beer was Ballast Point Brewing Co.’s Grapefruit
Sculpin. The Grapefruit Sculpin is a take on Ballast Point’s signature IPA, the Sculpin, but as you can probably guess from the name this one has grapefruit added to the mix. In general the Sculpin is a nice, light, fruity, and aromatic IPA with a clean and crisp finish. The grapefruit addition puts a citrusy spin on it, really highlighting the citrus flavors that were already there and making the specific grapefruit notes evident. The first time I tried this beer I could not for the life of me taste the grapefruit notes.
To people who drink IPAs regularly, you probably would’ve thought I was crazy, but
my baby palate wasn’t used to the more intense and complex flavors that IPAs have
to offer. Around last August (2016) something changed, it was like a switch flipped
and suddenly I was able to genuinely enjoy IPAs more regularly. Over this past year
I began to try different IPAs and order my new favorites more often than a Belgian
or witbier when out with friends. I’ve been back to those breweries I visited on my
first trip, as well as others I’ve been to in different locations, countless times since and now appreciate the differences and notice the variations on styles much more. When I moved to the Manayunk neighborhood of Philadelphia I quickly became a
regular at Manayunk Brewing Company. Famous for their Monk From the ‘Yunk, a
Belgian style triple, and Crunch, a peanut butter chocolate porter, I knew they had a variety to offer inside and outside of my comfort zone. I began to try their IPAs as well (check out Wet Dreamin’ if you haven’t already, it’s killer). My mix sixes from the local bottle shop became IPA focused and I made a point of exposing myself to both new finds and old.
Then last week happened, Michael picked a six-pack of Ballast Point’s Grapefruit
Sculpin at the local distributor as I searched for my go-to, Allagash White. Soon it
was in our fridge and before you know it, in a glass. I poured it into a pint glass and went in for the first sip, smelling the grapefruit aroma but not expecting anything new – having had this beer many times by now. Then it hit me, the grapefruit flavor was there peeking out from behind the mix of citrusy flavors and hops. I could really taste the difference. Maybe I’ve finally had enough IPAs to get used to the hops and focus on other flavor notes. That very well could be. It stopped me in my tracks though and I savored the moment, and the rest of that beer.
I wanted to write this piece partially to appreciate how much my own tastes have
changed and grown. The fact that I have a deeper appreciation for something I love
so much only makes me more excited about trying the next great craft brew. I also
wanted to make the point, and I’m always the first to say this to anyone who asks,
that you should give every style a few chances because there are so many ways each style can be brewed and you never know which one might win you over. Lucky for me it was more than just IPAs, but also I’ve found a soft spot for coffee stouts (One of my favorites is the Nitro Guatemalan Coffee Stout by Vault Brewing Company).
How has you flavor palate changed over the years and what’s something you never
considered liking but found you do? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to
hear what beers changed your outlook on a style or flavor! Have a weird new find
you’d like me to try too? Share your idea with me and I’ll find it and write my take on it.