The ‘Cleanskin’

Robert Frost famously wrote:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less travelled by’.

Today, those words resonated like never before.

I believe, as a beer-drinker, that you need to challenge yourself, your taste buds, your will to imbibe different liquids.

I don’t mean with hop-fuelled palate-killers either. Nor with absurdly strong dark ales that have that magical ability to wipe your memory. Not even with tart sours, fruit-infused ales, or barrel-aged, wild-yeast-fermented, imperial so-and-so’s.

No. You need to venture far outside your comfort zone.

Christopher McCandless-style.

Sure, he died, alone, in the Alaskan wilderness, but don’t let that scare you. He had a vision. Ill-fated yes, but dammit, he dared to dream!

You must expand your horizons.

To cut a short story shorter: Two roads diverged in a bottle-shop, and I – I took the one less travelled by.

I took the turn off from the Craft Beer Highway and hurtled headlong into Adjunct Lager City; immersing myself in its bland, insipid, lager-filled slums.

It’s essential I believe. To remind yourself of how good you have it as a craft beer drinker. Think of it like this.

If you eat nothing but 450-day grain-fed Monte Black marbled Wagyu Rib Eye every day, drink Dom Perignon in the clubs, and snort cocaine exclusively off the rear-ends of Victoria’s Secret models, the value of the product you are consuming lessens. You lose sight of how blessed you are.

As a result, I ended up with a bottle of ‘Premium Cleanskin Green Beer’ in my hands.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, a ‘cleanskins’ are bottles of unbranded wine sold in plain bottles at bargain prices. Big winemakers can hand off wine which didn’t quite make the ‘expensive’ level needed and allow the masses to gorge on vino for as little as $2 a bottle.

This, unsurprisingly, isn’t a big ‘trend’ in the beer market. After all, the artwork of the label, the story, the name, the ‘blurb’ – it all makes a difference in the ‘success’ of a beer.

However, at $30 a slab, kudos to the makers of this beer. ‘They’ – and I say ‘they’ because all the bottle reveals is that it’s a product of South Korea – are clearly looking to buck the trend and bring beer down a notch from its potentially snobby perch.

Based on the label I knew the following things:

It had no preservatives, weighed in at 4.5% (1.2 standard drinks), had a best before of 14/4/2016, and a picture advising pregnant women not to drink. At least they’re thinking of the children. Right?

The website for the beer maintained the mystery of this particular product. There’s very little information – aside from some brief descriptions of what to expect from their ‘Green Beer’ and their ‘Gold Beer’.

There is, however, an insanely detailed ‘product analysis’ which gives specific scientific measurements for – among other things – the pH levels, CO2 levels, apparent extract levels, sugar content, and turbidity of the beer.

I decided the best way to approach this particular drop was with the patented ‘Chill’N’Kill’ approach. That is, chill the everlasting bejesus out of the beer in the hope of making it palatable, and drinking it as quickly as possible.

I was promised quite a few things on the website.

A fresh fruit aroma. A discernible hop aroma. A fruity front palate. A light malty finish. And a clean, crisp finish which doesn’t hang on the palate.

Lies, damned lies, filthy lies, all of them! Well, except for one thing. The madman writing that was on the ball with one thing: This beer certainly doesn’t linger on the palate.

This is nothing in a beer. It vaguely smells like beer, has the slightest hint of a beer taste, but it’s not. It’s, beer-y water. Maybe.

I can’t even be mad at it. It’s so outrageously inoffensive that I can’t muster the vitriolic response some may have expected.

Thankfully, I don’t see the ‘cleanskin’ trend expanding.

Phew.

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