I spent Saturday afternoon at Decanter magazine's grand tasting at the Landmark in Marylebone. Despite tasting scores of wines over four hours, I walked out sober and managed not to disgrace myself in front of the young lady's parents. That's what judicious spitting can do for you (although I did let some of the finer clarets and dessert wines slip down the hatch). But could you imagine doing that at a beer festival?
We're told you need to swallow beer to appreciate the flavour. If that's true, then the answer to my question is probably no - you're going to get pissed if you sample lots of beers (particuarly the stronger ones) in a session. There's no point in pretending otherwise. Does that mean smart events like those organised by Decanter, devoted to learning about and appreciating wine, can't be replicated in the world of beer?
Some of those wine buffs are seriously skilled at the art of spitting. Having ruined a white Ede & Ravenscroft shirt at a previous tasting event (red splashback), I've learned to lean in low over the spitoon on the basis that it's better to look silly for a moment then spend the rest of the day wearing one's folly. But today I spotted a tweed-wearing silver fox who barely bent his head when ejecting his spent mouthful. He was a crack shot at several yards. It was fearsome to witness.