First Beer Experiences – Chris Hall
Chris Hall has been writing about beer since 2010, and is co-author of 365 Best Beers in The World (volumes 1 and 2), and of 100 Best Breweries in The World. Chris is the former Media & Events Manager for Brew By Numbers, and is now Communications Manager for The Bottle Shop. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram at @chrishallbeer.
When did you have your first taste of beer?
A taste of my Dad's can of Stones Bitter aged 8 or so, bottles of 2% French lager in my mid-teens, then things like Grolsch and Guinness when I was 16-17 and trying to establish myself as knowledgeable and 'alternative'. It wasn't until beers like Deuchars IPA and Saltaire Cascade Blonde when I was student that I turned towards the light.
What was your impression of beer before then?
It was what adults drank when you were trying to sneak an extra glass of cola. Even in my mid-teens, I was very aware that me and my friends were just aping the behaviour of adults in order to make us feel like we were adults. Drinking for pleasure seemed insane - drunkenness was the only goal before adulthood.
What was your reaction to that first sip?
The first taste of Stones was terrible - strangely tinny, bitter to the point of acridity. Now bitterness has come to be something I don't just seek out, but crave.
How have your thoughts about beer changed since then?
Understanding the reasons people is a big part of becoming a responsible adult. There are myriad reasons and they don't all make a lot of sense. Beer, though is something I think I'm getting better at understanding all the time. It can be almost anything people want it to be, in terms of origin, process, ingredients, flavour, aroma, colour, texture, package, the drinking occasion itself, and more. Most importantly, the best beers are the work of people who care deeply about what they do, and it shows.
What beer would you recommend to someone who wants to try it for the first time, and why?
I'd ask them about their favourite flavours in food and other drinks more generally first, but I think low bitterness hoppy pales, dry saisons and chocolatey dark beers are all great entry points, depending on your preferences. Then just let the beer tell its story.