Bias and a Taste of Home … “The Session” Jan. 2014

Photo courtesy of cs2901 on Flickr
Photo courtesy of cs2901 on Flickr

“Home” can be a very subjective thing.

Currently, my home is Durham, NC. But Home, where I grew up, is Geneva, NY.

I’ve been far from Geneva for a while, forcing my definition of “home” to slowly become judged by my ability to remember the names of streets I would walk, ride a bike or drive a car during the almost 20 years I lived there. I barely remember those names any more, but I can still get around Geneva on muscle memory, my hands guiding a steering wheel along city streets that look foreign to me now with new homes and faces sitting on the porch.

session_logo_all_text_300Castle Street was always a favorite. It runs from one corner of Geneva to another, a near-perfect cut of the northeast portion of town. Depending which direction you come from, it’s either all uphill or all downhill, ending at the outskirts of town where farms and open land reigns supreme or nearly at the water’s edge of Seneca Lake, where a Ramada hotel now takes up space where I used to play.

It’s currently winter in Durham, but it’s Winter in Geneva, a season my small, but not frail, body never enjoyed. Snow has drifted along my childhood streets for weeks, whereas the clear skies and bright sun in North Carolina has taught me that there are all sorts of winters to be had.

No matter the season, there’s one thing that can easily thaw my memory. For as much as I adore the place that is now my home – weather and all – I can’t deny the siren song echoing from the gorges of Upstate New York: Ithaca Apricot Wheat.

Is there something special about this beer? Not really. It’s a wheat ale with a dose of natural flavoring for good measure. It’s light and refreshing. It’s like hundreds of other beers of similar style or substance.

It’s got a 28 on RateBeer and a 74 on Beer Advocate.

But to me, it’s a perfect 100. It’s the Best Beer in the World. It’s my Home.

There was a morning in the fall of 2006, probably a Tuesday, when I found myself driving around the streets of Burbank, Calif. I was listening to sports radio when a host for a show on ESPN Radio opened a segment by talking about Ithaca Apricot Wheat. They had recently visited Upstate New York and were surprised to find a beer they liked in the middle of wine country.

Tell me about it.

Bias is a strong feeling. It twists and contorts our viewpoints, making our beliefs something akin to a master yoga instructor. Seeing things flat, straight and objectively is hard when memories and experiences are busy doing Sirsa Padasana poses on your decision making.

At the moment I heard the sports radio host talk for almost two minutes – an eternity in unscripted air time – I felt vindicated. My beer! Picked from all the others! Given national awareness!

Every now and then I’m lucky to have an Apricot Wheat delivered to me in North Carolina by a traveling friend or family member. It reminds me of spring and summer at Home in Geneva and makes me thankful for missing Winter. That beer is a subtle reminder of all the memories I compiled growing up, a collective databank in a bottle. Twelve ounces of Home.

It’s a reminder of what I felt like running up Castle Street’s hill for nearly two miles and the feeling of accomplishment at the top. When my Apricot Wheat is gone, it’s a trudge back down the hill to where I came from. A reset.

Ithaca Apricot Wheat is a taste of Home, here.

ithaca-Ithaca beer-apricot wheat-beer-nature-beertography

Today’s post is part of “The Session,” a monthly event where beer bloggers from around the world collectively write on a predetermined topic. January’s post is about taste bias and inflation, nominated by Rebecca at The Bake and Brew. If you want a more empirical look at bias, check out this post about ratings bias.

+Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac


15 thoughts on “Bias and a Taste of Home … “The Session” Jan. 2014

  1. Very nice. I like the idea of picking your best beer in the world based on your own criteria rather than letting Rate Beer or Beer Advocate tell you what it should be. However you pick your beer you should like it because you like it, not because someone else tells you that you should like it.

    1. Whenever I tell people about Apricot Wheat, I also preface it by stating my totally unabashed bias. I think it simply boils down to the fact that it’s special to me.

  2. Great spin on the theme. My “home beer” is Boddingtons, but more for sentimental reasons than geographical ones.

    1. This post was done in the “Oliver Gray style,” so I’m glad you enjoyed. I don’t think I realized it until I was a few paragraphs in, but then I just decided to stick with it.

      My next Session post will be in Gangnam style, so I hope you’re ready.

  3. I’m going WITH the grain and you on this. Ithaca Apricot Wheat is one of my favorite Apricot beers to drink the summer – ratings be damned.

  4. I am originally from Spartanburg, SC and I always have to have “Son of a Peach” when I am there. Heck, I put some in the suitcase and bring it back to Massachusetts!

    1. Old habits die hard and old favorites never fade

  5. I have a similar attachment to Newcastle Brown .

    1. What is it about that beer that does it for you, Dan?

  6. A beer that sparks similar feelings in me is Real Ale from Atlantic Brewing Co., Bar Harbor, Maine. Even though it is now distributed near me, and I don’t drink it as much as I used to, whenever I see it on the shelf or am putting back a pint, it reminds me of my teens and 20s. It always brings up memories of family vacations to Maine, of good times. It is also one of the first non-BMC beers I had. That I really remember, at least.

    I would suppose that it also reminds me of my “craft beer moment”. On those trips to Maine, I realized I LOVED drinking local beers, fully flavored beers. It was a true renaissance for me. For that, the Real Ale and Atlantic Brewing, will always have a place with me.

    1. I am excited to get back home in the spring, as it will be my first time in the area since it had its own craft beer boom. Surrounded by over 100 wineries, it’s about time! It’ll be great to have a local presence of beer.

  7. I love this. This is my kind of post 🙂 You had me at “It’s my home.”

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