Perhaps, as an enlightened beer drinker, you have a collection of like-minded associates who anxiously anticipate every new release or upcoming beer festival. Possibly, as a group, you adventurously sample each new draft or bottle that pops up at your local pub or eagerly gather up the latest six-packs and bombers to hit the shelves of your neighborhood stores. Then again, maybe you are like me.
Maybe you are the drinking buddy marching to the drip of your own tap, the barley wine in a room full of thin-bodied alcoholic beverages, the Cascade hop in the bale full of Fuggles. While I have, over the years, steadily sampled as many varieties of beers as I could get my hands on, my closest circle of imbibing buddies have systematically refused to budge from the mostly watered-down beer they have stuck to for the better part of a decade.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There are those nights with the potential to continue deep into the wee hours of the morning, when I find myself sticking to the watery stuff because an abundance of heavier-bodied beers would not be the smartest way to go. Of course, the older I got, the less frequently those nights became and I found myself becoming more and more agitated at the general reluctance of my friends to sample new stuff.
This sentiment came to a head as I convinced a few of my pals to accompany my wife and me to a New York City beer festival held at the South Street Seaport. Nearly a hundred breweries, each serving several beers, were in attendance, yet my friends managed to park themselves in front of the Blue Moon tent for the vast majority of the night. Blue Moon, albeit a fairly tasty beer, can be found in nine out of 10 bars in New York City and certainly did not constitute the breakthrough in beer philosophy that I had hoped for. I decided something needed to be done. It was then and there that I developed my theory of the “Transitional Beer.”
I needed to find a way to gradually introduce my friends’ palates to better beers without going too far. The ideal transitional beer, I decided, needed to display the delicious and bold flavors that a beer is capable of showcasing without being overly aggressive, too ambitious or completely off-the-wall. In other words, it must have an interesting enough flavor profile to pique a neophyte’s curiosity without being so bold as to scare the newbie back to the realm of the taste-deprived.