1) To get drunk. In this case, 21st Amendment’s Strong Beer Week was a win. The weakest beer was 8.3% and I was drunk after three — which is good because the limit was three.
2) For the taste. In this case, 21st Amendment’s Strong Beer Week was a win. All three beers I had did not taste too strongly of alcohol and were worth of standing on their own among the excellent beers in the 21st Amendment pantheon. The Two-Lane Blacktop Imperial Black IPA was my favorite.
So why was I left feeling the event was a miss? I think it’s because of a third, ulterior, motive that we have when we drink beer — socializing. The beer was so strong that I was limited to three. I’m not a sipper, and I finished the beers and wanted to drink more… in that I wanted to raise a cup to my mouth because I was at a bar drinking with people. The Trumer Pils I had fourth tasted like water (or Bud Light) after all that strong beer, I got even drunker, and I barely got out of there with all my crap before I did any serious damage. Or ended up on the wrong train in the wrong city.
So why make the beer so strong? I’m telling the beer companies I want to drink more beers, I don’t want to sip, and I don’t want to wipe the floor with myself when I’m done. So I guess the recent trend towards session beers makes sense. (A session beer, by definition, was a beer that English miners could enjoy twice over lunch before going back to work — without impairing themselves to the point that they’d injure themselves while mining.)
If you create a taste that masks the strength of the beer, then you’re really defeating the purpose, too. If it’s a strong beer, make it a strong beer that’s made for nursing on a cold winter night, when just one is just enough. Celebrate the strength of the beer and make it part of the essential character of the beer. The black IPA had an element of this, but I wouldn’t say that any of the beers I tasted celebrated their strength more than they tried to mask their strength.
A strong beer that tastes like a normal beer? That’s just a recipe for disaster.
Even if it satisfies the two main goals of beer drinking.