For many couples, when they decide to have friends over for dinner the majority of planning goes into the food menu, activities, and music. While they select a bottle of wine or other alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverages to contribute to the evening, that is usually something that just takes a couple of minutes. At our beer geek embedded household however, the food to be served, the cleanliness of the space, and everything else that goes along with entertaining takes second place to the selection of beers to be offered.
Recently we invited another couple over for dinner. It was to be a simple evening of catching up since we’d last seen them back in the summer. I had provided Alan with the menu being served several weeks in advance because I knew he would want to pair an appropriate beer with the main course but I seriously under-estimated the time it would take him to select that beer.
Alan keeps an inventory of his beer. He has an app on his iPhone that allows him to scan the bar code on the bottle or can and he can log when a beer goes into or out of one of his beer fridges. He also keeps a spreadsheet of categories on his computer so he can easily print off lists of his beer. So theoretically at any point in time he should know exactly how much beer he has, what types, etc. However as with most things in life, a system is only as good as the person managing it. Apparently Alan got busy, or in too much of a rush to taste that brew, therefore some beers weren’t entered or properly logged as having been consumed. Now most people would just quickly peruse the shelves and select a few bottles for the evening. Unfortunately those people probably aren’t beer geeks (or should I say fortunately for their spouses?) My beloved beer geek upon discovering the error of his ways decided he couldn’t possibly just make a quick selection because of the potential for missing something hidden at the back that would be better than the more obvious front of shelf choices. So at a mere three hours before the guests were to arrive, Alan decided to do a complete beer inventory. This involved taking all the bottles out of the fridges, and boxes (because now it won’t all fit into two fridges), examining them, checking them against the database, and making updates. With approximately 150 bottles to inspect this wasn’t quickly done and while it was mildly entertaining to listen to the various muttered comments or exclamations of pleasure as he worked through his list, with the clock ticking towards guest arrival – I had foolishly planned his assistance with other preparations. Finally after 45 minutes the inventory was updated and he emerged, only to disappear back into his office with a notepad. Now that he knew what he had… he still needed to make the evenings selections!
Non beer geek households probably only serve one brand of beer for an evening or for larger gatherings might offer 2-3 types. In a beer geek household you are offered 2-3 types before you start dinner! Over the course of an evening you may taste 8-12 different beers. Now before you have images of very drunk rowdy gatherings … dinner hosted by a beer geek is all about sharing the tasting experience. Offering up numerous samples of beers from around the world to share and discuss is a huge part of the enjoyment they get and often the samples are only a couple of ounces each so a single bottle goes a long way. Add to that the careful consideration that goes into their educated assessments for perfect food pairing, the selection of beer for an evening is a complicated process. Having just completed his inventory all his beer was fresh in his mind so this actually only took Alan another 20 minutes.
I have already mentioned in a previous post (#5 The Insidious Creep of Glass) that Alan has a sizeable beer glass collection (which has grown by another dozen glasses since that post), so even though by now he had collected his beer offerings together and put them in a cooler close by for quicker access, he still hadn’t selected the glasses to use for each beer type. Most hosts wouldn’t go through 20+ beer glasses in an evening with just 4 people but those hosts aren’t beer geeks who are extremely careful that the shape of the glass brings out the best of the beer’s nose and flavour. Fortunately Alan does that selection quite quickly on the fly depending on what his guests select or how he adjusts the order of the offering but even there – on this occasion he ran out of a certain style of glass and had to go to another room to collect the appropriate one.
Is he obsessed? Absolutely, frustratingly, but enjoyably for the beer loving guests who come to our house. It isn’t just dinner … it’s a beer education experience.