“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.”
~~ Abraham Lincoln
At one time in my life I would have said there was no such thing as good beer. I thought beer was nasty. It was akin too cold weak pee. First time I had a taste was pretty normal situation. I was curious (like a lot of kids) and my dad let me have a sip. And he had his friends laughed when I had a kid’s normal reaction: squinching up my face and saying, “Eeeeewwww!”
I didn’t have beer again until college and then it never became a regular thing. I thought it was pretty awful. I couldn’t figure out why anyone would drink the stuff. *Bleck!* My roommate would buy beer and offer me one and to be polite I would choke down a Miller or a Bud or worse, a Miller Lite.
Of course I was poor and when there was a beer bust at a bar and I really wanted a buzz-on, I would plug my nose so I could taste it and quickly gulp down the first one or two so I would get tipsy enough to not care (well mostly) that the stuff tasted so god-awful.
Then one day, I was about twenty-five or so, a friend of mine name Dani Lites was tipping back a few cold ones and I gave her my opinion of beer (including the pee-analogy). She barely raised an eyebrow and asked me what brands I’d tried.
“What difference does it make,” I replied. “They’re all the same.”
“What kinds?” she repeated.
I told her.
The corners of her mouth flickered ever so slightly upward and this time she let her brow go where it willed. “You don’t like beer because you’ve never had good beer. Budweiser isn’t beer. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s not beer. Here…” She handed me her bottle. “Try this.”
I don’t remember what it was, I wish I do, but as I questionably took that quarter-of-a-swallow, something happened. That liquid washed out over my taste buds and then…flavor! Flavor upon flavor upon flavor. The initial taste, then the more powerful hit as it rested for a few seconds in my mouth, and then, as I swallowed—and especially a few seconds later—the after taste…!
My eyes went wide. My mouth fell open.
Who knows anymore what I said. A gasp? A wow? An “OMG?” I don’t remember that either, but what I was thinking all three.
It was layer upon layer of flavors. Dense. Powerful. Complex. Wonderful!
“What is this?” I must have cried.
“Beer,” is what she said-and I remember that completely.
She let me try more than one. Taught me about beers. Introduced me to micro-breweries. Kansas City has some terrific hometown breweries.
And I found out there were many kinds of beers. There are ales and lagers, stouts and porters, and malts. There are different styles of beers, blondes and browns, ambers, IPAs pales and pilsners and wheats and many more. They’re brewed different ways and at different temperatures and with different kinds of yeasts and fermenting processes. Some I don’t care for, some I like, and some I love.
I find that I prefer very, very hoppy beers—they taste a lot like the delightful smell of fresh growing or cut alfalfa and…oh…so…good! Some people think IPAs—some of the hoppiest—are bitter, but not me. Another kind I like a lot are the dark beers, the darker the better. I’ve had Guinness that seems almost thick. And there’s a pumpkin ale by Schlafly that I’m crazy about—not surprise to people who know of my love affair with pumpkin.
To this day I am still stunned by people who order a Miller or Bud Light/Lite. Almost hard for me to choke down. And God forbid someone hand me a Milwaukee’s Best or— shudder—Pabst Blue Ribbon!
I often tease a friend of mine for drinking the stuff. There is a gay bar near me that when they have an obnoxious or rude or heckling customer they call them upfront, tell them they win the prize for the night and give the a Pabst and everyone laughs. We’re in on the joke that it’s the hosts least favorite beer and the one she considers undrinkable. I have to agree with her.
It’s funny—when I met my husband, he hated beer too. I told him it was because he’d never really had beer. Sure he had, he assured me. I asked him what kinds of beer he’d had. He told me he’d dried Miller and Budwier and even Milwaukee’s Best! So I bought a beer while we were at dinner at a place that brewed its own beer and gave him a taste. His mouth dropped open, his eyes went wide, and he asked me what it was.
Beer, I told him. Real beer.
No, if I’m going to drink a beer it’s got to be a quality beer and for me that almost always means made from a micro brewery. I’ll pay more to be sure, as much as ten dollars a six pack, but heck! These days a Big Mac or Whopper combo meals almost costs that. If I’m going to drink something, aren’t I worth spending a little more? And these days, is ten bucks really that much? Not sure I could drink three beers in a bar for that.
If I’m going to eat or drink something, don’t I deserve quality? Should I treat myself to the best, or have something cheap that tastes cheap?
I do deserve the best. And tonight that’s a Stone Coffee Milk Stout.
And I’m grateful for a wonderful taste treat!