What to Expect #5: Perceived Bitterness

First of all, an update on the space -- We're about 3-4 weeks away from construction being complete. Assuming inspections/permitting goes well, we will hopefully be open in early March. Also, check out our new fancy sign!

Now onto this week's post...

A few of you might remember that we were in a contest a few years ago to win a commercial at the "Big Game." Landing in the final four of that contest brought with it a lot of attention for which we were incredibly grateful. However, we also got a lot of funny comments about us and our beer grain dog treat concept being very "hipster." 

For those of you who know us, you clearly know that Scott and I couldn't be less...hip. We're often nerdy, at times awkward, and frequently cheesy; but we'd never consider ourselves to be hip or hipstery (is that a word?). 

There's something called "perceived bitterness" in the beer tasting/evaluation world. I won't get too nerdy, but every beer has a measurement of IBUs (international bitterness units). The interesting thing is that a higher IBU measurement doesn't always mean a beer is going to taste very bitter (for those of you in the area, we'll talk about this at a future educational session in the shop). That's why we also have this "perceived bitterness" measurement. It's the amount of bitterness (normal, moderate, pronounced, assertive, highly assertive) we should experience based on the style when actually tasting the beer. 

The reason I'm sharing this with you is because that phrase popped into my head when I was thinking about people's perception of us. It occurred to me that there might be some people out there who might have some perceived bitterness with how we'll approach beer in our shop; that we might be snobby or too cool for school simply because of the "hipster-like" concept behind our dog treats.

This handsome devil is Slim, aka Scott's dad. If you want to know how we plan to approach beer at Barley Labs, it mostly comes from this guy. Slim loved beer, plain and simple. There was no pretention behind it. He didn't drink beer because it was cool or hip. He drank it because he just thought it was delicious. 

Yes, our focus will be on craft beer, specifically from North Carolina breweries, but it doesn't come from a place of being snobbish about what we drink. It more so comes from the fact that we love North Carolina, we love supporting other local businesses (more on that in a future post), and we firmly believe that craft breweries have the passion, the dedication, and the knowledge to create the most delicious, most innovative beer.

That being said, I was born in Latrobe, a town outside of Pittsburgh known for being the birth place of Rolling Rock, the hometown of Arnie Palmer, and the location for the Steelers summer training camp (currently swinging my Terrible Towel). Most of my family who still live in the Pittsburgh area are MGD or Yuengling drinkers. Scott's dad was a Budweiser guy (until Ma Beaudry forced Dad Beaudry to switch to Bud Light to save on calories). If we ever tried to be snobs about beer, I don't think we'd ever be allowed to go home for the holidays. If Scott's dad were still alive today, I'm pretty sure he'd slap Scott upside the head if he tried to be a snob about anything...in life...in general.

In addition to our humble beer beginnings, you're also going to be in the hands of a beer convert.

I didn't used to be a beer drinker because I really only ever had big brand American light lagers, which didn't taste great to me. I just assumed all beer tasted that way -- vaguely corny and often offensive to my tongue. When Scott started down his homebrewing/craft beer obsession, I became an accidental beer lover because he introduced me to so many different styles. I was shocked to find out that I am a fan of dark ales (milk stouts being my favorite). Later, I also was shocked to find out that I enjoy many sour and funky beers. The photo above is from a Cicerone Certified Beer Server prep class I took (I just passed the test last week -- yay!), and those were my notes about a gueuze. The classier and more accurate description of this style tends to include words like "barnyard" and "horse blanket." I interpreted that as "ass." But man, that tart, citrusy/fruity flavor is something I could drink all day long. 

For you non-beer drinkers and you non-craft-beer drinkers, I will do my best to help you find something you'll like based on your favorite flavors with absolutely zero judgment. And if I fail, I'll be happy to show you our small selection of wine, kombucha, and sodas. 

For those of you who are beer connoisseurs, I'm sure I'll learn a thing or two from you. I'll be the primary person running the shop (Scott makes too much money at his day job and someone needs to pay the mortgage while we chase this dream). While my knowledge of beer is not nearly as extensive as his, I'm learning more and more every day. I'm going to make it my mission to be well versed in everything we carry, and I did learn a lot while studying for my Certified Beer Server exam. However, I am by no means a beer encyclopedia just yet; but I am going to have A LOT of fun tasting all these beers so that I can be a better resource for you.

Also, if anyone out there is looking to join in on the fun, we're still searching for two bartenders to add to the staff. If you're interested or know someone who would be, please share our job post.

Until next time, pals!


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