The End of the Beer Paddle
It recently occurred to me that I may be forced to retire the beer paddle. Perhaps this was a realization that was a long time coming but having never been decisive with beer choices and enjoying the ability to sample the highlights when visiting a new brewery, it has taken me a long time to reach this conclusion.
My early exposure to some of the local craft beers included visits to Parallel 49, where they generously provided free samples of all of their draft beers (although this is not the case anymore), and St. Augustine’s where you would find the selection of beers change from visit-to-visit. Not only did each beer taste different, none of them tasted like the big name beers that I had become accustomed to. Having the ability to sample various beers in one sitting not only gave me an opportunity to try something before it was gone but allowed me to understand what types of beers I liked.
I knew my preference would be unique and I had accepted that I would be trying various beers that I did not enjoy while searching for the ones I did like. The paddle (and time) were my friends in this journey: small tasters of beers, just enough to know if I liked it or not, and the ability to get 3 or 4 different beers at once.
However, on a four-day trip to Oregon with stops at different breweries, and the wide availability of traditional American beer (see: the Champagne of Beer, and Bud Lights, etc.), I was feeling sampled out. The samples simply did not provide enough substance to get a proper sense of the beer and as I no longer required paddles to understand what types of beers I liked, I had to decide whether there was any value in scratching the surface of 4 different beers or actually trying 1.
The choice was obvious. And it is obvious going forward. Granted, I may not get a chance to try the number of beers I would if I used a paddle but superficial knowledge of these beers is something I am just not interested in. The pint is where my real ability to judge a beer comes from and going forward, even at a brewery I have not been to before, I will order a pint. And with that, I bid the Paddle farewell.