It finally happened. I drank so much pale ale that the subtle flavors of different pale ales all started to blend into one homogeneous river of hoppy, bitter liquid.
It’s sort of like that odd linguistic phenomenon that happens when you say one word over and over and over again until it loses all meaning.
Chair. Chair. Chair. Chair. Chair.
Wait, what was I talking about?
Oh yea! Apparently the aforementioned phenomenon has a name! Semantic satiation. We’ve all been there, saying something banal like “rope” 50 times until you stop and say to yourself, “What the hell is a rope? Why did someone name it ‘rope’? Rope. Rope, rope, rope. Roooooope. Ropey ropey rope.”
According to this theory, your brain eventually stops recognizing the individual word and instead interprets the series of words as a pattern, changing the way you process the sounds. It only works with things your brain has to process externally; you can think of a word as many times as you want, and it won’t lose meaning.
It happens with pictures too. Imagine looking at a group of 4 different colored dots. Then imagine looking at a whole page of the same dots, repeated over and over again. You look at and take them in quite differently, whether you mean to or not. Eventually, all of the colors and details blur, until your mind no longer can (or no longer cares to) differentiate defining details. You can’t even tell what colors things should be or what elements might be out of place, because your mind has gone all stoner on you.
You can feeeeel the colors, man.
Until just now, I didn’t think the principle applied to taste. I should have, because I often find myself mildly disgusted with even the idea of a food that I’ve eaten way too much of over the course of a few days. I recently picked all of the cashews out of it huge can of mixed nuts until the point where I wished no one had ever figured out that cashews were edible. And normally I really love cashews! I’m just on cashew overload at this point. Wait, what is a cashew?
Pale ale is by far my favorite, but I have to learn to randomize my choices. Variety is the spice of life, right? I want to appreciate this beer for all of its hoppy, in-your-face flavor glory, but I feel like my tongue is just confused. He knows it is good, but he doesn’t know why it is good. My nose recognizes the heavy bouquet of flowery citrus, but he doesn’t know if it belongs to this beer, or Dogfish Head Shelter Pale, Smuttynose Shoals Pale, or some other, undefinable delicious alcoholic tincture.
OK tongue, fine. Shut up, nose, I get it. We’ll leave pale ales alone for a while so you two can recover. Since it’s summer, maybe I’ll switch to something a little lighter. Maybe. Maaaaaybe. May, be. May-bee.
8.75 out of 10.
Next up: Gordon Biersch Czech Style Pilsner!