I've sometimes taken the mickey out of some tasting notes (and doubtless will again) when they are excessively florid in their descriptions of the smell and taste of beer, but I have to accept that some drinkers will inevitably sense more from their pint than I can. This is not news, of course, as we all sense things differently from each other - obviously - because otherwise we'd all tend to have very similar preferences, and clearly we do not. To give a personal example relating to food, I loathe fish and seafood - in fact, the sight of the latter makes me feel queasy - to the extent that I cannot understand how people can put something that tastes so vile in their mouths. But as they do, they must taste fish and seafood very differently from me. Logically, the same applies to beer.
I draw a few conclusions from all of this:
- Tasting notes only have value if you sense beers in a similar way to the person who wrote them.
- The view of certain diehard CAMRA dinosaurs that, if you can only get people to try real ale, they'll be converted and never touch keg or smooth again, is misconceived.
- Beer competitions that are based on panels of experts are of little real value.