It was a hot summer day in Northampton, MA and I was itching for some beer, and also possibly because I was developing a heat rash. I was with a newly found buddy of mine at graduate school walking the sticky downtown streets. He asked me if I wanted to get a drink at a bar after one of our late night classes. “Sure why not?” It was not too long ago that I was drinking natty light/ice by the caseload with friends while in undergrad. I prided myself a more mature man of sophisticated taste because I had most recently been drinking Yeungling and Shock Top for the flavor and not exclusively to get drunk. My buddy asked me what my favorite type of beer was as we walked up to the first outdoor bar. He said that his favorite beers were IPAs. I agreed that that was also my favorite, because I didn’t want to admit that I didn’t know there were different styles of beer, and I also didn’t want to ask what IPA stood for. He ordered us two local IPAs. They smelled extremely pungent with European piney hops. I drank in a big manly “This is my favorite beer” gulp, and my mouth got opened up to an explosion of bitterness that I was not prepared for. What the hell had I gotten myself into? I thought beer was supposed to essentially taste like tainted carbonated water, and not what I would imagine liquified potpourri tastes like. While I was not happy with the ordeal I had just put my mouth through, I slugged the rest of the beer down like a champ..and then maybe had one or two more for good measure.
I guess good tasting beer is similar to coffee in that it is an acquired bitter tasting beverage. It makes absolutely no sense why a person would like the taste of it, let alone try to persevere through multiple times of water boarding one’s tongue just so that it gets some weird Stockholm Syndrome with it all in the end. I am not necessarily just talking about IPAs or beers with hop forward flavors, I am also talking about those sludgy stouts and porters that can sometimes almost be quite literally loafs of bread in a glass. All of those tastes legitimately make no sense for anyone to like, but here I am years later, psyched about when a new brewery is moving in across the street from another brewery.
I would say that I am fully submerged into the beer filled rabbit hole these days, and I can’t appreciate my Northampton buddy enough who normalized good beer for me. I’m raising a glass to you, Pete, may your pale ales always be drinkable, your IPAs hops blasted, your saisons funky, your stouts smooth and chocolatey, and your sours..well…. sour.
In this blog I hope to continue exploring how beer and beer culture has intersected with, and enhanced, my life. You will find me showcasing individual beers for review, and also just reminiscing on good stories. I would end this off with a “Cheers!,” but as an American saying that, it kind of reeks of preppy or hipster d-bagginess. So instead, I will end off with this period. Period.