Beer: Thoughts in General, Part 1 (My History)

Beer. It’s the new wine. Man’s other ‘best friend’ and indeed one of my closest.

It’s hard for me to pinpoint the exact moment when I realized there was more to beer than what I had been experiencing in college, which is honestly an extremely disappointing thing for me to have to admit. The mass marketed, light-lager garbage that I had been mistaking as beer for who knows how long, provided to my by an acquaintances boyfriend, was more often than not something I would drink as a means to get drunk (it was college); but there were occasions while sitting around the apartment when I would simply want to sit back, relax, and enjoy a cold brewski. And those moments for me were always a time of contemplation, reflection – partly regarding whatever was most relevant for me at the time, partly about life in general, and partly in reaction to the watery, overly carbonated, mildly sweet but otherwise tasteless beverage I held in my hand. For even then, it was apparent to me that most beers that I had been exposed to pretty much tasted exactly the same. Were I to do a blind taste test, I was certain that it would be nearly impossible to distinguish between the various different American lagers available to me. However, there was nothing I could do. I would simply sit back and accept it. It was what I knew and I had no frame of reference to even begin to complain. Que sera sera as they say.

When I think about it, I believe my first real beer imbibing experience came when I went to Steph’s sisters house for a Christmas party about a year after we started dating. Kerri was being courted by her now husband Scott, who was, unbeknownst to my person at the time, a beer enthusiast. Quite the fine gentleman, he offered me a beer. “Fuck yes dude!” was what I’m sure my immediate response was. Again, I was in college, and under the legal age to provide myself with alcohol. I was utterly fascinated when he offered me my choice from a Sam Adams Winter Variety Pack (yes, that whole thing deserves to be capitalized). I had heard of Sam Adams before, but distinctly remember thinking that I had not tried anything from their company yet, let alone heard of 80% of the beers that were in there (being the beginning of my beer quaffing career, ‘styles’ of beer simply didn’t exist for me yet; it was all simply beer). And I can remember playing it safe for the first couple of rounds, sticking with Sam Light because it was the closest I could get to the tasteless concoctions with which I was so unfortunately familiar; and yet, there was a flavor to the stuff, what it was I couldn’t begin to say, but it certainly was that – flavor.

As the night wore on and I got progressively drunker (that’s a word, do you believe that shit? Sounds funny, right?), I remember actively making the decision to take a chance, to close my beer wings and take a screaming dive into the unknown. My first attempt was either one of two heavier options: Old Fezziwig Ale or the Holiday Porter. I want to say it was the porter, because I definitely remember being taken completely off guard, like I had just been kicked in the mouth by an exceptionally pissed off clydesdale, as if I had tried to brand its privates or something. Yes, it was that dramatic and that unexpected. Mind you I was drinking the stuff straight from the bottle, not properly from a glass (if anyone is to be held accountable for this, it’s Scott, for I knew not what I was doing), so I had no idea that the stuff was devoid of more light than solitary confinement, and the most intense beer experience that I had had up to that point was a Sam Light. Needless to say, there was no way in hell that I was gonna go for another one of those bad boys the next time around; and I’m not even sure I didn’t just pawn it off on someone else so I simply didn’t have to deal with it.

In any case, the experience didn’t deter me in the slightest. I was a college student by trade, and drinking meant getting drunk. I simply couldn’t stop because I ran top speed into a couple horse hooves with my face. Nay, I needed to surge forward, continue to plumb the depths of the unknown! I was drunk and eager -to get more drunk or to try something new at that point I couldn’t say, but surge forward I must! And so it came to be that I stumbled upon, quite merrily I might add, the delectably exquisite Cranberry Lambic. That first sip was something of an eye-opener to me. It was phenomenally delicious, tart and sweet and lightly carbonated and oh so flavorful. And it was glorious! Nothing like the Holiday Porter at all. I was shocked, awed even.

And then it hit me. Everything I had partaken in that evening was indeed beer, falling within completely different parts of the spectrum certainly, but definitely, unequivocally all falling within that same category: beer. And in my ever increasing drunken state, the epiphany occurred; the shit that I had back at the apartment in Keene was not beer at all – it was flavorless, super carbonated, yellow water. Something that was designed to appeal to people who lacked an interest in tasting the things they drank; something that was meant, it seemed to me, to serve the purpose of nothing more than getting people drunk. My eyes had been opened. Graciously, I stepped through the door to a brand new world and let it close behind me, not once looking back. The various liquids I had experienced in those few short hours were the epitome of the answer that I had been seeking – something new, something different, something ever changing and varietal.

That door by the way, that metaphorical door that led me into the wonderful world of beer? Also happened to be the not so metaphorical door to the bathroom. For I had enjoyed the Cranberry Lambic so much the first time around, that I went back for another, and then another. And by the end of the night, proceeded to violently expel much of that which I had enjoyed during Kerri and Scott’s Christmas gathering.

But it was unquestionably worth it. Because now I don’t drink beer to get drunk. I drink beer because it’s great. Better than great. In all its ever evolving variety and complexity and availability, it has become a significantly important part of my life. And my tastes have changed quite dramatically. Porters and stouts, as well as IPA’s are some of my favorite beers to quaff due to their intensity and depth of flavors.

And referring back to my opening comment about not remembering how or when I initially realized that beer was more than what I had experienced in college, apparently all it took was a little pondering to recall the event, and a little more contemplating to remember it in all its magnificent glory.

But alas, I began this post with the idea that it would be a single entry, covering much more that I have to say in general regarding the topic of beer. But because this memory came back to me in full and took on an entire story of its own, the rest will have to wait. Not long, but wait it must. And I’ll try a little harder to stay focused next time. No promises though. Until then, go out and have yourself a few real beers!

Source: Winter PackHoliday PorterHorse Kick, Cranberry Lambic


One Response to “Beer: Thoughts in General, Part 1 (My History)”

  1. Very well written, I can’t wait to read more!

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