There are many oenophiles in the world, some have actually trained in all the fine details of wine appreciation and some are just self proclaimed oenophiles. They talk about the fruitful flavour and the bouquet. When it comes to whiskey there seems to be no shortage of whiskey sommeliers, though in my experience most are self-taught and are desperate to be part of the “Men’s Club”. They are desperate to talk about peatiness and smoothness and how they have been saving this bottle for a special occasion.
Beer seems to be becoming a drink that people are starting to appreciate more and more rather than just a go to alcoholic beverage. They are enjoying the flavour and not just the effect. People are moving away from the obvious choices and moving towards craft beers. Even beer lovers have a name now, they are called a zythophiles. If you train hard enough in hospitality and have learned enough about beers and how to distinguish them and you have passed a special test, you can even take on the esteemed cicerone title.
So, why has the beer arena suddenly moved from being just a drink to glug down, pint by pint at the pub or in the evening after a hard day’s work in front of the television, into a drink to be considered, tasted, talked about and then drunk?
The answer can be found in the boom in the craft beer market. Traditionally, the majority of the beer that you could easily purchase were the larger brands. Those manufacturers brewed their beer in massive quantities and therefore had to make sure that the taste was acceptable to as many drinkers as possible. To create tastes to suit different palettes in that quantity is just not commercially viable. Craft beer on the other hand is brewed in a much smaller quantity. The brewer can therefore play around with the recipe to create different tastes. By doing this they create interest and people want to try all manner of different varieties, even from the same brewer. Beer is no longer like cola, where there are two main producers and people rarely drink anything else and has become more like wine and beer. People start to have personal preferences and can take a real interest in what they are drinking. In essence the beer becomes a talking point, an experience and not just a regular swig.
People have even started to frequent different pubs to see which breweries are supplying them and making their way through that brewers selection and then moving on to the next pub. Boutique breweries such as Bira Malka in Israel have started telling their story to add to the authenticity of the product and inviting people in to experience the process and not just the taste.
How many people will transition from a beer glugger to a zythophile and can they go further and gain recruits from the whisky sommeliers or oenophiles? Only time will tell!