“So I ask you fellow bloggers and beer lovers, why is it important for us to visit the place the where our beers are made? Why does drinking from source always seem like a better and more valuable experience? Is it simply a matter of getting the beer at it’s freshest or is it more akin to pilgrimage to pay respect and understand the circumstances of the beer better?”
The host states that visiting where our beer comes from—and drinking it there—is “a better and more valuable experience” than just sucking it down some other place. The reasons he posits seem to be Freshness < == > Respect / Understanding.
There is an awful lot in between, including the capability to better determine whether one ought “pay respect.” I certainly do not have all of the answers or reasons but I hope to lay a few down.
Note: I apologize that this is fairly superficial; I had truly hoped to go a bit deeper. There has been a death in my close family and I am struggling with an as yet undiagnosed illness.
1. Personal connection; meeting/talking with folks who make it and the difference that can make in your appreciation.
For instance, once in Hood River we were at Pfriem Family Brewery for lunch. We had a taster tray and I got to the Mosaic Pale and it was nothing like any other Mosaic single-hopped beer I had yet had. While there was a punch bowl fruitiness in the aroma and a bit in the taste, there was actual bitterness and quite a bit of it. Josh Pfriem, head brewer, was hosing down the brewery floor on the other side of a wooden fence at table height. I was able to wave him over and asked him about his Mosaic hopping rate/regimen. Turns out he used them throughout but mostly up front in the boil so that they were primarily used for bittering. While I still prefer my Mosaic single-hopped beers to be mostly/entirely late-hopped I was better able to understand what was happening in Josh’s beer and to my senses and, thus, to better appreciate, and understand, my experience but also to appreciate what the brewer was going for.
While that does not change the beer or make it “better” somehow, it does provide that real, human connection that, as humans, we are always looking for. I would rather I get that from the brewers and brewery workers/owners I visit, whether or not it is “real,” than from some actor in a television commercial. Which is never real.
2. Try beers not distributed (at all) or not distributed to your area. This one is dead simple. And while it may involve freshness and gaining respect or understanding, it may also just be about trying beers you may never get to try again.
Take a local example, both in the brewery and the distance to visit: Deschutes. Most pub beers, whether here in Bend or Portland, never see the outside of their respective brewpubs. [Except in growlers here and there, but it’s not packaged or distributed.] Why would I ever want to deprive myself of Veronica Vega or Ben Kehs beers? I truly like almost every beer I have had by either one. But to get them I have to go to the pubs; it matters not that Deschutes is a behemoth in the craft beer world. These beers are not that. I have to go to the source.
To take another local example, Crux Fermentation Project. I can get a lot of their beers in bottles around town but they also have pub beers that will probably never see distribution. Good beers. Now here’s my thing with Crux—I stress it is my thing as no else I have mentioned it to has this issue. But the bottom line is that I do not like Crux beers from bottles. Nor do I like them on tap elsewhere. They don’t taste the same to me. I really like Crux beer, by the way. But if I want the Crux flavors, aromas and tastes that I know and love I have to go to the brewery/brewpub. Thankfully we are fairly close.
3. Of course, in the real sense of travel, all of the above and more apply. Some of the beers won’t be distributed outside of the brewery, or the beer simply is not distributed to your area/state/country, the beer is probably fresher, you may learn whether or not you appreciate the brewery based on what you learn visiting, you may appreciate them more based on a positive visit with people you relate to.
These, and no doubt many other reasons I look forward to reading from others, make traveling to the source an often pleasant experience.