Way back in November, when I penned an almost award-winning post about better beer for Thanksgiving, I mentioned that at times, being a better beer lover can be a lonely thing. Unless you have buddies that know and understand the joy of having a brew you enjoy for its taste and aroma and not just because it has a “third less calories than regular beer”, well, you’re going to get some funny looks when you hit the party with a sixer of Raging B!tch. Odds are you’ll take a little good-natured ribbing too.
Like I said, though, that’s unless you have better beer buddies.
Let’s face it, we’ve all tried to coerce a pal into joining us in the crusade for craft beer at one point or another. And while the temptation is strong to tell a close friend that they’re wasting their lives consuming fizzy, yellow, light lager brewed by evil corporations that want to ruin Christmas, denigrating a person’s beverage of choice is rarely a good idea. It’s like telling someone that that their brand new car is a hunk of scrap or that their Nanna makes terrible meatballs. Sure, it might be the complete, unadulterated, honest truth, but those are fightin’ words nonetheless. You’re more likely to gain a black eye and lose that friend than effect any conversion.
So, if being honest is out, how exactly is one supposed to be a craft beer missionary in a world full of loud, corporate beer heretics?
Simple: with a light touch, a careful suggestion, and better yet, a little generosity.
Luckily enough, someone has already written an example of exactly what I mean. If you live in or around Cincinnati and/or have any interest in local sports, odds are that you’re familiar with the name Paul Daugherty. On the unlikely chance that’s not the case, he’s an award-winning sports columnist for the Cincinnati Enquirer. He also writes a very popular daily blog, “The Morning Line”, for Cincinnati.com.
If you’ve been reading TML for as long as I have (which is almost for as long as Doc’s been writing it), you’ll know that he often describes himself as chea…chea…ch…somewhat frugal as well as a die-hard lover of Keystone (Light, I believe). Indeed, for years, it’s pained me to read about his unabashed love for those beloved ‘Stones. I used to wonder what it might take to get him to join us on Team Craft Beer, and apparently, I wasn’t alone.
In December of 2009, something wonderful happened. A couple of his friends planted that delicate better-beer seed in Doc and gave it room to grow. The excepts from “The Morning Line” below demonstrate just exactly how you spread the love of better beer, without anyone inviting you to step outside to “discuss” Mom’s baked goods.
12/22/2009 – I hear Great Lakes Brewery’s Christmas Ale is very good. I won’t know unless somebody gives me one. $10.98 a six-pack? Child, please.
12/23/2009 – Props to my friends N. and B., who read TML yesterday about my desire for a free Great Lakes Christmas Ale, and brought six to a party we had last night. The review: Wonderful, in small doses. So many flavors in one beer, I started spouting off like a wine snob. “Nutmeg, with a devilish hint of honey…”
1/4/2010 – Since the last week of December, TML has jumped temporarily off the ‘Stonewagon and indulged in some other beers. The list: Great Lakes Christmas Ale, Mt. Carmel Brown, Pilsner Urquell, Negro Modelo, um, Rolling Rock, Abita Amber, Dixie. The winner: GL Xmas, by a gulp over the Mt. Carmel.
5/27/2010 – BTW, I do like the Mt. Carmel brews cooked up in Clermont County. The Brown and Christmas are especially good. But a swallow of the India Pale left me sprinting for the 12-pack of Keystone. Dunno about you Mobsters, but IPAs are swill. Overly hoppy and bitter, with an aftertaste you can’t kill with a whole clove of garlic. It’s like drinking aluminum.
6/4/2010 – I hate to admit this. I mean, I really hate to admit it. But the more of the Commodore Perry Great Lakes IPA I drank, the more I liked it.
11/19/2010 – BEER O’ THE WEEK. Meant to start this awhile ago, at the suggestion of a Mobster. We’ll do it every Friday. Suggestions welcome. This week: Abita Winter Ale. Dark brew from the Looziana folks who bring us TurboDog. I’m a big fan of fall and winter beers, but this one wasn’t great. A little harsh and not as full of flavor as a winter beer should be. Great Lakes Christmas Ale remains my favorite.
1/5/2011 – BEERS OF THE WORLD! I’ve indulged a little in the last month. Some of the good ones, in order of goodness:
1. Schlafly Winter Ale. St. Louis brewery. Fabulous. You can get it at The Party Source, for sure.
1a. Great Lakes Christmas. Hard to find. There’s a reason for that.
1c. Kentucky Bourbon Barrel. Served in a snifter. You need a spoon to drink it. Awesome. Also awesomely pricey for a cheap b—— such as myself.
2. Sam Adams Winter
3. Blue Moon Winter. Probably should stick to the summer stuff with the fruit slice.
4. Moerlein Barbarossa. Being local, really wanted to like this one. Didn’t.
4/25/2011 – Over the weeks, months and years, TML has expressed his undying affection for and loyalty to a certain bargain-priced Coors product. He has endured the cheap shots of Mobsters, the snide comments of self-proclaimed beer snobs and just a general lack of beer-respect from the millions regularly eyeballing This Space.
Something has occurred.
It could have been the terrific prices at Trader Joe’s. I mean, for the price of a sixer of Bud Light, they sell really tasty lagers and stouts. I have what’s left of a six of Stockyard Oatmeal Stout resting in the refrigerator now. Delicious.
It could be the quality local sodas, from Moerlein and Mt. Carmel. Forgive me, but I had a couple Carmel, um, IPAs with my son this weekend and. . . and. . . and. . . I actually liked them.
What is happening to me?
I still drink my Keystone Lights. They’re my boys, and I’m not abandoning them. But you’re never too old to try new things. The new things are assuming considerable fridge space, previously occupied by ‘Stones.
In just under 18 months, my intrepid favorite columnist has gone from having an unflagging devotion to Keystone to the admission that his fridge is now well-stocked with craft beer and that perhaps IPAs, which he once described as “like drinking aluminum” can actually be rather likeable. And all because a pair of friends shared a six-pack of Great Lakes Christmas Ale at a party.
It only took a suggestion, a light touch, and a little generosity. Something for all of us to keep in mind as we try to bring our friends and loved ones with us on our own craft-beer journeys.
Now we just need to get Doc to sign up to be a Hoperative. If he ever attends a Happening, his first beer’s on me.