Tears in My Beers

Source: Huffington Post
Source: Huffington Post

In the very back of our refrigerator rests an untouched six-pack of Michelob. It was purchased several weeks ago for a visiting friend whose drink of choice is beer. That friend decided not to drink alcohol during her visit, however. So there the beer sits behind a jar of Spanish queen garlic-stuffed olives and a package of fresh tofu. The olives, of course, go in my martini.

This six-pack now taunts me each evening at the 5:00pm cocktail hour. I hear its sneering ridicule and personal animus aimed at my once resolute love of all things hoppy, bitter, nutty, and foamy. Rather than trying to emotionally appeal to me with nostalgic and happy memories of lagers and stouts consumed in earlier days, it instead mocks me as a gin swilling, single malt sipping, Claret quaffing, tassel loafer-wearing elitist. This is class warfare and its taking place right in my very own kitchen.

Just as Marco Rubio once embraced bi-partisan immigration reform, Donald Trump was pro-choice, and Hillary Clinton eagerly wooed Wall Street executives, I too have “evolved” on a matter of elemental importance within my own caucus. I refer specifically to the drinkers caucus.

At some point in the mid-to-late nineties I switched from being a beer drinker to having a preference for cocktails and wine only. I don’t recall exactly why this took place, though an increase in disposable income and a higher salary may have been partially responsible for the change. An overdose of John P. Marquand novels at the time might also have been an influence. I was one linen suit away from buying a fedora hat and ordering a sidecar.

Still, I do have fond memories of beer. There was a time when once I finished my 3:00pm black coffee, all I thought about for the rest of the work day were the paramount concerns of draft vs. bottle, foreign vs. domestic, and dark vs. amber. Likewise, weekend afternoons consisted of activities with friends followed by heated debates on the philosophical merits of whether a de facto 5:00pm start to happy hour applied to Saturdays and Sundays too. A glance at old pictures from college and my early years in Washington, DC show all of us either with beers in our hands or one sitting in the fore or background.

Your Humble Blogger, circa 1985, Washington, DC. Tassel shoes must have come later
Your Humble Blogger, circa 1985 in Washington, DC. The tassel loafers must have come later

When the microbrewery and brew pub phenomenon hit the U.S. in the 1980’s, I remember my dad being fascinated by it. Primarily a beer drinker himself, he was tantalized by the possibility of having a beer that was actually brewed in the same place where it could also be served.

Never having been a barfly even in his youth, and except for the very occasional draft beer at a German or Hungarian restaurant, my dad’s consumption of beer was pretty much by can or bottle only. I can still vividly recall his bringing home a 32 ounce bottle of Stroh’s as he arrived home from work, which would always last him two days. To my recollection he never bought a six or 12 pack. When I reached my very late teens, I do remember a bit of unfortunate controversy related to a mysterious unburdening of the content in those bottles. Careless accusations and recriminations were made, and sadly (or fortunately) no one really got to the, ‘er, bottom, of that.

Source: eBay
Source: eBay

I was nonetheless proud on his first visit to DC to take Dad to a brew pub. I immediately ordered us a sampler right after we sat down. I’ll never forget the way he studied the menu as he slowly sipped each one to see if it matched the brewer’s tasting notes. Including that sampler, we each had two beers followed by splitting a third so that he could experience as many of the offerings as possible. I remember riding the subway back to my apartment and us laughing through most of the trip. Excluding his time overseas during the war, and possibly a handful of times when he attended college as a commuter during the Depression, I am fairly certain that day was most likely the only time in my dad’s later adult life that he enjoyed an overextended beer buzz. On later visits to DC, I took him to more brew pubs. But he always limited himself to one beer, and I obediently followed suit.

My enjoyment of beer continued unabated. On two trips to England I went absolute bonkers over the bitters and ales found at every pub. It was head and shoulders better than any beer I ever had. With every trek we made out to the tiny villages in the West Country, and later the Isle of Wight, I couldn’t believe how wonderful beer tasted the further we even got from London. I had reached my zenith in sudsy appreciation. Stonehenge? Yeah, sure, fascinating. The honey-colored stone villages of the Cotswolds? Uh, sure, okay. Queen Victoria’s Osborne House?  Yawn.  Say, when’s the next pub meal?

And then at some point in my late thirties I suddenly lost interest in beer. Perhaps it was the carbonation, or maybe I simply got spoiled from the exposure to English beer and nothing afterwards could compare. Or further still, perhaps it was the knowledge that draft beer is a major contributor to calcium oxalate kidney stones, which I happen to produce. Over a sustained period I began a transition from beer. Cocktails and particularly wine were attracting my taste buds, as was the concept of pairing certain foods to discover a whole new world of epicurean pleasures. There finally came a point when on the rare moments I did have a beer, it no longer really tasted very good to me. My taste buds had moved on.

I’ll still have a beer now and then, particularly at a ball game. It just seems really wrong to be holding a Syrah while screaming at a third base umpire. Some things are sacred.

But all the same when happy hour hits now, I’m thinking martinis, manhattans, or maybe that expensive 12-year-old whiskey I rarely open served neat. And unlike the eccentricities of earlier days, moderation not only allows me to enjoy it more but the numbers on my chart at the doctor reflect an overall healthier experience with it. “I’ll take lower cholesterol and a smaller belly for the win, Alex.”  

So if you’re in the neighborhood, I’ve got a six-pack of Michelob to offload on you. Just do the secret knock on the door and we’ll let you in.

Until next time…

Source: nysscpa.org
Source: nysscpa.org

19 thoughts on “Tears in My Beers

  1. I had a very similar discussion with my husband the other day. Neither of us are big beer drinkers yet we have a few bottles here and there – left over from a house guest or from a party. We decided that the best use of the old beer (and I understand that it does get old) is to use it in a chili recipe. Then I can enjoy some wine with my beer.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I was never a drinker and really didn’t understand the whole concept. There were times when I cleaned out the refrigerator and saw (what I assumed was stale beer) in the back, I threw it away. It always pissed me off that for Christmas, people who worked for Loser would always give “us” a bottle of wine. They all knew I didn’t drink but they gave it anyway. I got in my cleaning mode one time and thought “that wine has to be sour by now.” I opened it and poured it down the drain.
    When Loser came home, I proudly told him I had finally gotten rid of all that “old crap.”
    Ummmmm…..I had poured four bottles of wine down the drain that cost about $600.00 each.
    Your Michelob wouldn’t be safe in my house. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It was 4 o’clock here as I started to read your post. I had a thought that it’s 5 o’clock in the Maritimes and perhaps I would read with a drink. Then I read your post. Now I’m really thirsty. Early happy hour for me! I’ll have a cocktail today but I am a beer drinker. Not too foo-foo. I nice cold Coors will work. And yes it’s wonderful in beer and few other dishes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had to really, really, REALLY avoid those expressions like “it’s beer o’clock!” or “It must be 5:00 somewhere!” The thing is, as lame as they are, that’s precisely why I like them. Sort of like when grandpa said, “just pass the bottle of vermouth over the martini and keep going.” I love those old sayings, but perhaps too predictable for such a debonair, tassel-wearing blog like mine. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Marty –

    You can always get value from the unused bottles and or six-pack carton that those bottle reside in. They add color to the otherwise drab interior of your fridge. What with all those plastic containers holding leftovers, and the baggies that contain cheeses, cold cuts, unused chopped sirloin – I get 3 burgers out of a standard Publix serving. Then there’s the Orange Juice Containers – I use Indian River Select which comes in a clear plastic bottle with a blue label. The Simply Lemonade has no label but is in a clear plastic bottle. Milk comes in a container or adds more white to the looks. Fresh Fruit adds color, as do the baskets for tomatoes. Or the slice pineapple, or watermelon.

    But Publixs wraps its butcher department items in white paper. I could go on – But I think a nice dark bottle of beer with or with a colorful six pack thingie is the cherry-on-top.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beer, wine, spirits… I like them all occasionally and (most of the time…) in moderation especially when I travel. Stout, whiskey & gin in Ireland; single malt scotch in Scotland; wine & cider in France; beer & wine in Germany, beer & more beer (& more beer) in Belgium; wine, aperitifs & digestives in Italy. Craft beer & wine here in the U.S. with the occasional cocktail thrown in. Sometimes I get a nip of my Green Spot… Variety is the spice of life my friend! Loved your post!

    P.S. You can keep the Michelob – ugh!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I loved this post. Your writing reminds me very much of a blog called The Lonesome Jackalope. That author was also a man, lives in Texas and is the father of two autistic children. His challenges are very different from your.

    Don’t change a thing please. And yes, WordPress drives me crazy too. I just gave up and went over to Blogger. Sigh!


    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.