Monday, October 13, 2014

Please Beer With Me

There were six bottles of beer in the refrigerator. How long they had been there, I had no way of knowing. I was in the third week of cleaning out my father’s house, and I guess you could say the beer was part of my inheritance.

I never much cared for beer. I never liked the taste, right from that very first illicit sip from Dad’s bottle when I was a kid. I used to attend “beer blasts” in college, where for the admission price of a single dollar you could drink all the beer you wanted, all night long. More often than not you would have found me sipping a cup of water. The only time I ever drank beer on somewhat of a regular basis was when I lived in a warm-weather climate, and even then I would have much preferred a chocolate milkshake from McDonald’s.

And now each day I found myself throwing away contents from Dad’s refrigerator, and was surprised to find that the six bottles of beer continued to make the cut. Tossed were those dozen or so bottles of Boost that Dad would never need to drink, two or three containers of fruit juice of indeterminate age and a half gallon of milk that had only just bumped up against its expiration date. And still the beer remained.

And then one night, the day’s chores completed and the television calling my name, I pulled one of the beers out of the refrigerator and we headed together to the waiting couch. I suppose I looked at it as a well-deserved reward at the end of any busy day, which was odd considering how I had felt about the beverage my entire life.

Before I even got the bottle to my lips the aroma hit me, and I was surprised to find it to be quite pleasant. I took my first sip of a beer in probably a year or two, and found that to be pleasant as well. And so I eased back into the couch and spent the next half hour enjoying both my television show and my beer.

The next night I repeated the ritual with another beer from the refrigerator, and again found it to be an enjoyable way to pass some time. And then everything changed. I opened a third beer on the following night and noticed right away that the now familiar aroma just wasn’t there. The beer itself seemed almost flavorless, reminding me more of a harsh seltzer water than the flavorsome beverages I had enjoyed on the two previous evenings. What was going on here?

It didn’t take long to figure it out. The six bottles in the refrigerator were made up of two different brands, three of each kind in fact. Now I knew that we are living in the age of micro-brews, a time when people who once might have been dismissed as basic alcoholics have now been elevated as some sort of esteemed taste-masters, and that the best of them can pontificate on the subtle differences between dozens, or even hundreds, of brands of beer.

For me, though, it was a revelation that I, with basically no history of beer consumption, much less any knowledge of the ubiquitous brew, could tell the difference between these two quite common brands. I wondered if I actually was noticing a true distinction, and actually identifying the superior product, or if instead I was, as in so many other aspects of my life, completely full of shit.

Someday I’d like to talk to a true beer connoisseur or, failing that, even just an enthusiastic beer aficionado. I would tell him that there was a noticeable difference between the two beers and I, even with my obvious lack of a palette, had much preferred one over the other. I’d go on to tell him the names of the beers, which were Beck’s and Heineken, and then see which he thought I had identified as the superior product. I can’t help but wonder what a true lover of beer would say. What would you say?


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