Here sampling is borrowed from its musical sense. It’s been stated of music sampling that it is:
This, by analogy, is what I do when blending beers. You combine two or more beers to get a new and different whole.
Blending beer has an old commercial history, which is probably where I got the idea, but it has its own justification.
Remember, it is all malt, all hops, and brewers blend malts and hops to make the beers they sell to begin with. If you do it right, you can get an excellent result. If you do it wrong, it won’t be terrible.
F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “there are no second acts in American lives”. What did he know about beer? Bathtub gin – maybe.
It is perfectly correct to buy beers with sampling in mind. I occasionally do this, say, to make a pumpkin porter from a pumpkin ale and a porter.
But usually I blend from open cans or bottles I have. I have them because, I taste so many beers over time that I can’t finish them all after opening. I may open a couple one evening, drink part of both, and save them for another day.
I used to seal them in some way but now I just put them in the fridge, the cans open and bottles with crown cork loosely reattached.
If you wait one day, it’s like drinking regular draft beer in the bar. If you wait two, it’s like drinking a good (English-style) cask ale, only lightly carbonated in other words.
I had the three beers shown, kept in the fridge two nights, or maybe three for one of them. Each was slightly less than half-full.
I blended them about one-third each and then adjusted the pint until I got it right. It’s interesting how small additions change the taste or texture noticeably.
What you see tastes like a good West Coast IPA if served on cask. There is a bitter, lightly blackcurrant finish, a caramel sweetness, and fruity (pineapple?) background. The alcohol by volume is about 6%, perfect for the style.
It reminds me of Ballantine India Pale Ale as brewed before 1981 by S&P/Falstaff at Cranston, R.I. I bought it once on a trip to the dunes of Cape Cod and Provincetown, MA.
Provincetown then looked like an English coastal town or towns around the Caribbean or the Maritimes in Canada. Maybe it still does.
The funny thing is, I remember also buying cans of light American lager, Piels, say. They were thin aluminum cans you could easily crush with a fist. (Hence, by a wending route, the hip term for an approachable craft beer of reasonable strength, “crushable”).
Somehow, I liked those and the IPA equally. I’m not sure what that means.
Note re image: The Ballantine India Pale Ale image was sourced from Dan Hodge’s article on Ballantine at the (excellent) BeerNexus site. The Piels Draft Style image was sourced from this Ebay listing. All intellectual property in the images belongs solely to their lawful owner, as applicable. Images used for educational and historical purposes. All feedback welcomed.