Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Beery Existentialism

Since writing last week’s post on the state of beer as I see it, I’ve been doing quite a bit of beery introspection. What is my situation with beer? What kind of beer drinker am I?

I know what kind of beer drinker I’m not. I’m not a ticker. 

I honestly don’t care about Untappd, and I really don’t care what’s the newest, or the strongest, or the hoppiest. If I’m traveling, I might seek out the local brewery or beer bar, but when at home I don’t hunt for beer. In all honesty, I rarely even make it to my local beer shop. I’d like to say “I drink local”, but truthfully I don’t adhere to that mantra all that rigidly. Don’t mistake my meaning, I like the idea of drinking what’s local, or at least relatively local. Why not support the local economy, right? In actuality, though, I think it’s something I say rather than do.

I’m also starting to realize I’m less interested in where the beer comes from, rather than the beer itself. I have a tendency to buy stylistically, rather than from a specific brewery. I’m glad to see Founder’s or Bells—or even Beau’s—coming into Albany, but I’ll be hard pressed to order a pint of heffeweizen made by any of them. They are great breweries, but I’m not a party-line voter. Heffes just aren’t my thing—and I don’t care if Mikkel Bjergso brewed one up in my kitchen. Thanks, but no thanks, Mik.

I have a tendency to order hoppier beers, although I do enjoy something more malt focused now and again— a creamy milk stout, or a roast brown ale. I’ve never gotten behind sours or most Belgians for that matter, with the exception of the saison. A simple, saison, with just a hint of funk is sublime. I likes me a saison.

I have a tough time with big beers—imperial stouts, DIPAs, and barley wines. I have nothing against big beers, but I have essentially one waking hour to the day to myself—the hour that falls between me leaving work, and arriving home. Just enough time for a pint or two. Coincidentally, this hour is called happy hour. Because I have but one hour, I have learned to embrace session ideals. Plus, I have a tendency to drink fast, It might be a defense mechanism, like a coyote scarfing down its kill before a competitor wanders by. Maybe it’s less primitive than that, but in any case, I can put down a pint pretty quickly. That ability and a 10% beer isn’t a great combination. I also have children and a wife. My wife does not take favorably to me passing out on the couch at 7 pm.

More so, however, when it comes to big beers, I just have a hard time getting through them. You’d think that when winter comes along, and a fie is cracking away in the fireplace, maybe an old black and white movie is on, I’d be happy with my feet up sipping on a big, fat Triple. In theory, I would. But nine out of ten times I get half way through, the beer gets warm and sticky and I give up.

I’m a wuss what can I say.

I’m a bit cheap, too. Five dollars is a fair price for a pint in my mind. Pints cresting $7 simply are not worth it, and those upwards of $10 or $12 are downright nutty.

There’s one more bit to this beery existentialism, and it’s not about styles or strength or cost. It’s about—as the real estate folks say—location, location, location.

As I said in my last post, my beer drinking is of the pub. I am, as I have been told many a time, a social butterfly. I thrive in a pub atmosphere. I like the layered conversations and banter down the bar. I like the arguments, and the laughter, and the music and waving of the arms and the slapping of the backs. I love the wood and the stainless, and how pints of orange red and amber nearly glow like stained glass as light pours through them, as they sit stoically on the bar. Beer, for me is as much about the pub as it is the beer.

Whatever kind of beer drinker I am—or for that matter will become—beer still continues to hold some mystery for me. Something draws me to it. I could easily be as into wine or whiskey, or cigars or cars even—but I'm not. I may comment on the tricks and gimmicks pulled by breweries, and I complain about the celebrity brewers and the price gouging, but I know there are still some really amazing beers out there—and there's nothing like that first sip of a really great beer.

I’m into beer. That's just who I am.

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