I posted five new beer reviews within the last twenty-four hours, because I had been saving them for a couple of days instead of writing them up immediately. (Beer purists take note, though, for I did take notes during the tastings and used them virtually exclusively for the content of the review itself.) Among them was Firestone Double Barrel Ale, which I found that I actually enjoyed quite a bit.
Y'see, Firestone Double Barrel isn't exactly a fine Belgian Ale, or an Imperial Stout, or even a good IPA or hefeweizen. It's really just a simple-enough brew that goes down easy and has a nice malty, almost oaky taste to it. And on that level, it's a perfectly enjoyable beer. I'm looking forward to having it with a burger or a steak, or just as a nice finish to a long day at work.
And what it got me to thinking about was the context in which we beer geeks consume our favorite beverages. If I'm going to sit at home and just drink a beer while watching TV or enjoying some kick-back time on the computer and not really pay attention to it, this beer is a perfectly good experience. On the other hand, if I want to savor every drop and really get every bit of experience possible out of the beer, I'd much rather have something with a bit more complexity, like a Franziskaner Hefe-weiss, a Mackeson XXX Stout, or the aforementioned Belgian Ales.
And I think it's for that reason, as opposed to some "bias" against simple brews, that certain types of beers are reviewed so highly over at Beer Advocate. It's a sort of Uncertainty Principle of Beer, that whenever one pays attention to the attributes of a beer, that those attributes tend to shrink in context and what was once a perfectly fine lager ends up being a pale imitation of a drinkable beverage.
(Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending bad beer in the slightest. A Bud Light is at best mediocre even in the best circumstances, and many beers are quite a bit worse than that. But certain styles are consistently given less than due credit, and this is my --admittedly simple-- hypothesis to explain this behavior.)
I'm sure plenty of other posts that I write here will have to do with this phenomenon, but for now I'll just say that some beers are good, but just don't stand up to in-depth scrutiny, and for me that's perfectly okay.