Monday, October 21, 2013

Why Beer?

I'm back. I needed a little break. A recharging of the beery batteries, if you will. The break was a good time for me to do a little inward introspection. Nothing existential, just a little thinking about what makes beer my topic of choice.

The Albany Ale thing is ramping up. The website is up and running—soon to be added to. The cask tapping event is less than two weeks away (get your tickets now they're going fast!). Not to mention there's a book in the works. But, I know why I'm involved in all that. That's clearly defined. Albany has a history that is forgotten, and someone needed to bring it to light. Truthfully, The Project, in my mind transcends beer.

What about the other stuff—like this blog? What is it about beer that I'm drawn to? I'm not the kind of beer geek that needs to bunt down the latest and greatest. I don't need to try the newest gooseberry-infused double India Pale Porter. But I'm not a purist either. Do I like craft beer? Yes—a lot. Do I consider myself one of its evangelist? No.

So, why beer?

I got my answer this past Saturday morning, at a soccer game of all places.

It was a beautiful morning. The sun was bright in a baby-blue sky and the fall leaves were a dazzling array of orange and yellow and red. Ritualistically, we parents stood on the sideline and watched a clump of fourteen seven and eight-year-olds chase the ball around the field. Someone brought up the league's travel team Friday-night practice schedule. To which was commented on, "Who schedules soccer practice on a Friday night? Don't they know about happy hour?"

Then it happened.

An hour long discussion, between four or five dads, that morphed from favorite beer bars in the area, to the newest brews just arrived in Albany—and maybe a little Albany beer history thrown in for good measure. From New England Brewing Company's Ghandi Bot to the Madison Pour House, it was an ebbing and flowing discussion purely about beer, with nary a pint glass in sight.

Here's the interesting part for me. I don't know these people. Sure, I see them at the weekly soccer game, but I don't know them. The obligatory hello and idle chit-chat prior to this was the extent of our interaction. But, now it appeared that we all seemed to have a shared experience with beer. Toward the end of the match, the conversation swung to football and Sunday's match-ups. The discourse's beery theme faded and we disbursed from our klatch to collect our respective kids after their end-of-game handshake. An unexpected beery moment, in the midst of what would otherwise be a run-of-the-mill Saturday morning on the soccer field.

Conversations like that—with or without beer—is, for me, why beer.

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