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Oakes Weekly - October 22, 2006

I feel sorry for people who only like one form of beer
Oakes Weekly October 22, 2006      
Written by Oakes

Vancouver, CANADA -

In our lives, we have those little moments, or those little things said, that stick with us long after they should have been forgotten. One such moment for me was when Ice-T came out with his metal band Bodycount. On the local university radio show about rap, they interviewed him and one of the things he said was “I feel sorry for people who only listen to one form of music.”

Now at the time I was a fairly typical ignorant suburban white kid, albeit into gangster rap, which was rare at the time since most of my peers were still clinging onto hair metal’s bloating, dying body. When I heard that, I was like “Hey, I only listen to one form of music.”

That started to change. Slowly, mind you. It started with the Anthrax/Public Enemy crossover thing. I believe that was followed when I had my mind blown by Soundgarden’s Jesus Christ Pose video. Still later, I was driving back from Edmonton and somewhere outside Kamloops I heard a Doors song on the radio and thought “I don’t think I’ve heard a Doors song I don’t like.” So I bought a tape. All of a sudden, I was starting to expand my horizons a bit.

Shortly thereafter, I started school. This introduced me to more music from people on my floor. Some of it sucked, but there was some cool stuff in there I’d never heard much of before. I’d also been dabbling in trying different brews by this time, though my staples were still fairly uninteresting stuff like Guinness, Moosehead, Clancy’s (Amber Ale, from Moosehead), and McEwan’s. But then I turned 19 and over a couple of months, tried everything in the local liquor store. Blanche de Bruges was one of the first, and was a key turning point in my road to beergeekdom.

Food came a bit later. I was pretty poor as a student and living in a small town in Atlantic Canada I didn’t have access to anything terribly interesting anyway. Ethnic food was spaghetti around there. I’d say a key food moment was moving to Halifax and having this Acadian kid next door who was a major geek for all things Asian. He worked in a Japanese restaurant, dated a Chinese girl and introduced me to a couple of local Chinese grocery stores. Well, the prices were low enough that I could explore a bit more. Around this time, I’d started drinking tea more and asked my dad to send me a bunch of different types of tea so I could try them.

Clearly by the time I started my Master’s I was really appreciating exploration. It all comes back, though, to that quote. I was rather taken aback. One of my idols had basically admonished me and declared me to have limited taste. He was right, of course, and even though Bodycount sucked arse this little seed had been planted. I was perfectly happy in my own little world. I liked what was there and at the time didn’t see much need for anything else.

One by one, though, little things happened to broaden my perspective. I worked in the city. Then I went to school in a small town. Then I moved to the city. I studied in another country. The world became big. A lot of it did not make much sense at first. But I embraced the challenge of understanding it. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. I still don’t listen to a whole ton of jazz or classical, though I can sometimes enjoy it quite a bit.

I wonder sometimes what life would be like if I hadn’t had my perspectives broadened the way they were. I look at people I know who never really left their little suburban cocoons and I feel sorry for them. My parents came to visit me one afternoon and couldn’t find a place to eat lunch around here. And aside from the four pho shops, the insanely good Singaporean hawker, the Ethiopian place, the awesome Filipino place, the most famous dim sum restaurant in the city, a couple of well-reviewed yuppy joints, the Jewish bakery and the Italian deli they’re probably right.

I feel sorry for people who only like one form of beer. To only like big massive beers is sad. To only appreciate English-style ales is a pity. To only ever really vibe off of Centrral European lagers is so limited. Hopheads…yeah, sucks to be you. The world of beer is the world in a glass. The possibilities in terms of flavour, texture and context are limitless. To only appreciate one of beers many spectra is truly a waste of your potential. I know sometimes people can get turned off of things by one or two lousy or inauthentic examples. But truly appreciating anything takes time and effort. Compare the way you appreciate your wife versus the way you appreciated the hot chick in Grade 9 math class. I urge every single one of you to set aside all of your prejudices and explore the world of beer with new zeal. Tackle the finest examples of everything…go to their homelands if necessary. Drink beer in all its varieties in all manner of situations. Some styles are great in a big beer tasting context, some aren’t. But they might be damn fine in the setting sun after a long hike. To fail to appreciate all of the world’s great beers is to fail to appreciate the world.



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