A Midsummer’s Night Draught

After months of one sip wonders, I was finally starting to understand a love of beer. Understand, not join. However, I was making progress in the form of ales. While I admit I was still in the kiddie beer pool, it was a little bit of forward motion. Thankfully, that motion was greeted with an opportunity that became a catalyst in my journey into the world of craft beer…

It was getting late and we were getting a little hungry and a lot thirsty. We were on the tail end of a several hours long road trip and had been enjoying the sights and sounds of a new town. We made our way through the winding streets, passing all matter of cuisines. We came upon an old building on the corner, its Victorian style architecture making it appear to be towering over us ominously, despite only being two stories tall. A single street light flickered as we made our way inside. This seemed to be even more of a step into the past, as the interior was dark and saloon- style, with a single row of patrons sitting at the bar as though they had become a part of the decor themselves.

“What’ll it be?” The lady behind the bar asked.

He ordered, then looked at me.

“I want something with a past,” I whispered. I enjoy it when my drinks complement my environment.

Apparently, my whisper was not soft enough, as the bartender smiled at me, and slid a bottle towards me.

“I have just the thing…”

We grabbed our beers and made our way to their outdoor seating. I examined the bottle.

“Dogfish- what is this?” I asked incredulously. That was my first encounter with craft beer’s very own Dogfish Head. In particular, the Midas Touch. When it comes to tastes of history, this is still one of my favorites.

Midas Touch is technically an ale, although it has notes of several other styles. The flavor profile was determined by the discovery of liquid residue in the tomb of the legendary King Midas. Scientists were able to use these findings to create a modern beer that mimicked the type of drink that King Midas himself may have drank. There is a detailed essay written about its creation which is very interesting, that can be found here: http://www.penn.museum/sites/biomoleculararchaeology/?page_id=143

This shook my little kiddie pool world, as I realized the implications of this beer. This was the first time I thought about the science behind this drink or the possibilities this led to.

As I sipped my beer, I watched the sun set over the cobblestone street. Maybe this wasn’t so bad after all.

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(Bud Light) Lime and Punishment

After a few unsuccessful attempts at cracking the beer code, I was feeling a little frustrated. Maybe there isn’t a beer out there for me, I thought. This was a strange musing to have, since I had been so seemingly hellbent on proving that I was not and would never be a beer drinker. After all, I had always despised the phrase “Beer is an acquired taste.” To me, if you tried something several times and it didn’t appeal to you, why keep it up until you developed Stockholm Syndrome?

I was aware I was being a little juvenile about the whole experience but the entire idea of a “beer culture” baffled me. I came from a background of non-drinkers. If I saw anyone drinking so much as a beer during my formative years, it was a Budweiser at a get-together or, in my later adolescent years, it was associated with others around me getting wasted and making bad judgment calls. I had never even heard of craft beer at that point or understood the complexities surrounding it. So bear with me. I may still not be crazy about domestics, but *SPOILER ALERT* I did come around to the craft beer world eventually.

So, with that in mind, it may be easier to understand why this meager thought was, in its own right, jarring. I wasn’t trying to impress anyone- he had long ago accepted my stance on beer and only asked that I accept his (which I did). I had nothing to prove to anyone, so why did it matter?

Upon mentioning this, he just laughed. I have always taken everything a little too seriously, and perhaps this was no exception. But I was also a very curious person by nature and the combination was driving me mad.

“Well, why do you like it so much?” I challenged.
The question threw him a little.
“I just do, I don’t know,” he stammered.

“That’s what everyone says. I want to know- that doesn’t make sense to me.”

It didn’t. It still doesn’t. Of every craft beer drinker I have ever spoken with, only a few have been able to give me a clear cut, thought out answer as to why beer is their craft and their passion. If you asked me, I’m not even sure I could tell you why I enjoy it now. And there’s something so wonderful about that. Passion can be like that- one day, something just sparks within you. Something clicks- something you identify with for no real reason. Sometimes, the best things are those you can’t put into words.

That’s where the challenge began to melt into a strange chase after an illusive answer-The beginning of my journey into the world of craft beer.

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Brave New Wort

“Just try it,” he urged, holding out the glass in his hand.

I scrunched up my nose, “Eww. No. Beer’s gross. It all tastes like dirty dish water.”

To be fair, I was basing this brash statement off the maybe three different beer varieties I had consumed in my entire life. Not a convincing argument by any standards, but especially not one against a homebrewer.

He smirked, well aware of my drinking habits, or lack thereof.

“That’s why I like beer-there’s so many different kinds. There’s a beer out there for everyone.”

I think there is a pivotal moment (or moments, if one is truly lucky) in a person’s life where an adventure begins, whether it be a new chapter, a new romance, or simply a new hobby. For me, it was an intriguing amalgamation of all three. And that was my moment.

I could have let it go there-agreed to disagree, as the saying goes. But I am not that kind of person. My stubborn nature took this simple opinion as a challenge. And at first, that’s how it started. A thoughtless challenge- he drank beer often enough, I’d just try a few, genuinely not enjoy them, and be done with the whole lot of it. Point proven, case closed.

Ahh, but the best laid plans of mice and men…or, in my case, of malt and mash…

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