Look, bear with me, there will be a point to this.
I studied psychology as an undergraduate degree. Along with a lot of contentious nonsense, a few interesting things stuck with me. One was the phenomenon of being at a party, or in a busy pub, and hearing someone say your name against a chorus of 50 people talking. The implication here is that your brain is unconsciously monitoring everything in the room, and then when something interesting happens - like someone saying your name - your brain shimmers into the room like Jeeves and politely draws your attention to it.
Another thing made an impression on me was seeing a couple of my tutors argue about 'raw sensation'. That's the idea of the moment that brain senses something is going on, but hasn't yet made sense of it. The example that was given was if you touch your finger on something and can't tell if it's really hot or really cold. Your reflexes just go "NO!" before your brain can figure out exactly why it's going "NO!".
All of this was brought back to me recently when I was watching an episode of Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations", where he hangs out with jefe of El Bulli, Ferran Adria. Part of the programme is Bourdain, Adria and couple of others eating their way through the El Bulli tasting menu - a few dozen courses, each just a mouthful or two.
One of the most striking things was the joy that Adria clearly got from eating the food he'd designed. He obviously didn't get to sit down and eat his way through his own menu every day, and to see him have a succession of "HA! WTF?!" moments was beautiful to behold. There's a fairly rudimentary description of this sensation here in paragraph seven, where I have my mind blown in a way that I never have before, and I also touch on it here.
Maybe what made me think about this was Boak and Bailey's flagging of my reaction to a beer. Or maybe it was the pint of Tetley's I had tonight that had a weirdly evocative hint of orange blossom the reminded me of spring in Seville. Or was it the pint of Wadworth's Henry's IPA I had at Christmas that had a faintly stale backnote to it that reminded me of my parents drinks cabinet at Christmas, but when I was ten years old.
Well, I promised a point at the start, so I guess I'd better make one. How much of drinking beer is an intellectual exercise, using the front brain to analyse what's going on, and how much of it is an almost pre-cognitive reaction to what you're drinking? Can we give finely graded 100 point ratings to beers, where we pull it to bits, or is a simple binary yes-no system good enough? And returning to the image in my mind of Ferran Adria rolling his eyes and grinning at his own food, isn't it important to have a visceral reaction to what we drink, as well as a cerebral one?