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29-10-2016, 10:44
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A claim made more than once by egregious blogtroll “py” is that heavily-hopped New World-style IPAs are much more “accessible” than conventional British bitters. On the face of it, this seems an absurd proposition, as surely the blander a beer is, and the more it lacks strong, distinctive flavours, the more accessible it becomes.
In these terms, the ultimate entry-level beer must be a very light, bland lager such as Bud Light. There may not be much to appeal to the tastebuds, but there’s nothing to offend them either. While beers such as Doom Bar and Greene King IPA are often dismissed as bland, I’d say all ales have a slightly “rough” or “dirty” edge to them, which appeals to many, but stands in contrast to the cleanness of lagers. This is what in the past led to some fastidious people saying that they just didn’t like the taste of beer.
However, as explained in this blogpost (http://boakandbailey.com/2016/10/accessibility-or-why-people-dont-like-beer/) by Boak & Bailey, there is a different way of looking at it. The sheer absence of offputting flavours may seem to some an absence of anything to actually appeal to the tastebuds. A beer may not be actively unpleasant, but on the other hand may have nothing to recommend it, and thus not appeal to people seeking distinctive, characterful flavours.
I said in the comments:

I’ve never got this about heavily-hopped IPAs being “accessible”. To my mind, it’s like putting forward Laphroaig as an “entry-level” whisky.To which someone replied:

Funnily enough when I read your comment I was already planning to post exactly that: that for some people Laphroaig really is an entry level whisky.
My sister for one. She had tried other whiskies and not liked them much. Not hated them, but not liked them either and couldn’t see any reason to drink them when there are so many other drinks to choose them. And then she had a taste of Laphroaig and went wow! and has never looked back. Now she also appreciates more subtle whiskies, although I think Islay ones are still her favourites.
The point is, you can’t assume that blander things are more accessible. Sometimes a strong and/or unusual flavour can get people interested.So, on those terms, it’s reasonable enough to argue that it’s powerful flavours that can get some people to understand the appeal of beer, or whisky, whereas more muted ones have passed them by. It’s like saying “I never got cheese until I tried a really ripe Stilton”. But it’s an entirely different kind of attraction from being unchallenging or easy-drinking, and the two shouldn’t be conflated.
And I still cannot understand how some people can claim that enamel-stripping IPAs with massive IBUs are actually sweet to the palate. But they do.

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