As Michael Jackson (the Beer Hunter; not the guy who's making videos with Mssr's Landis and Price in purgatory right now) once put it, "Like wine, beer is grown - it is an agricultural product. Perhaps the first known to civilization." Beer is an integral aspect of human culture, and has been so for millennia. In ancient Sumeria, for a people to be considered a 'civilization', one of the prerequisites was the ability for that society to produce beer, which of course requires a stratisfied system of labour in which some of the grains, fresh water and labour was able to be spared for brewing purposes. Our skill at producing beer developed alongside the evolution of complex human societies; Ancient Egyptians possessed the brewing technology to produce at least seven different varieties of beer (for a society so obsessed with the afterlife, that's pretty impressive!). The modern brewing industry goes back at least 1000 years to medieval Germany, with the monestary brewers of Weihenstephan given an imperial licence to produce beer in 1040 CE, which they continue to do so to this day. Many of today's world-renowned Trappist and Abbey brewers owe their heritage to hundreds of years of brewing tradition. Because of this age-old tradition, beer is produced on every continent (I'm sure Antarctica is working on it - what the hell else are they going to do there? Science?) and in most countries that permit it, there are several active brewers producing in an increasingly competitive market.
In short, beer is awesome!
I myself have become a beer nerd, and it feels so right! There are so many different styles and variations of beer to try, and even though the task is impossible, it is better to have loved and drank to have never drank at all. My weekly trips to the LCBO become adventures to discover new brews and new approaches to time-tested techniques. Like the explorers of old, there is a real desire in me to see new horizons; a trip to the beer store without coming home with a new brew is an (almost) wasted trip. There's something about the uniqueness of beer that, for those entranced by its beauty, there is a real need to document it: to describe it and share its quality with everyone around you. In the spring of 2009, I started writing "Matt's Beer Journal", a little record to myself of all the new brews I had sampled, what I liked and disliked about each beer, and whether it was worthwhile purchasing that beer again. Not only was this log a great way to keep track of the beers I had tried, it also became a sort of checklist; like my parents with their Peterson Bird Book, it was my goal to find, and try, every single beer I could find! After a few months of plying my skills at interpreting the ways of reviewing beer, I moved on to the internet; in September of 2009, I joined beeradvocate.com, which reviews pretty much every beer under the sun (to put it this way, if it's a beer, it's been reviewed on this site at least once!). It has been wonderful sharing my love of beer with others on the internet, comparing notes on different brews and discussing the greater world of beer production and sales.
Now, the time has come to blog.
Matt's Beer Den is a place where those who love beer (and those who as of yet only have a mild crush with beer) can talk about beer, learn about different styles of beer, and get lost in my witty and imaginitive ways of describing beer. It's a work in progress, and if you'll bear with me, hopefully I'll figure out a system for reviewing beer that makes sense to everyone and lets people join in the fun. The nice thing about sampling beer is, even if nobody is around to listen, at least you've had a chance to try something new, and maybe discover a new favourite (or something to avoid like the plague - it goes both ways...). 'Matt's Beer of the Week' will be a tribute to the hidden gems of the bar and liquor store scene, while 'Head to Head' will pit two different brews of the same type against each other in sweet, malty competition. There will be rants and cursing, guides and warnings. If I come up with any new ideas, I'll give em a go!
Here's to great beers and great times. Cheers, slainte, skol, here's to us and those like us!