Thanksgiving. Turkey day. It’s one of the best food days of the year; for me, it’s usually one of the best beer days as well.
I’m sure you’re probably thinking that I mean that in regard to the day-before-Thanksgiving’s unofficial position as the “biggest party day of the year.” Let me be quick to point out that that particular ship sailed for me a decade or more ago. I’m in my late 30’s now and I’ve got four kids. The last thing I need on Thanksgiving Day is a hangover the size of a Butterball.
No, for me, the reason Thanksgiving is a great beer day is about exposure, not excess.
Because I’m occasionally stubborn as a mule and get crazy ideas, The Puddinette (that’s my lovely wife of 10 years, btw) and I have made it a holiday practice each year to invite both of our families to our place for the Big Feast o’ Plenty. And since we’re having everyone over, I proudly offer a selection of Better Beers for our guests to enjoy.
Yes, I probably should get something light and fizzy, too, but my mother always told me never to get chintzy with guests.
Last year, I picked up a six-pack of Great Lakes’ Edmund Fitzgerald, their highly prized Christmas Ale, some Guinness and Sam Adams Light. I figured that would cover just about everybody one way or another, and in all likelihood, there’d be a few bottles left for me to enjoy later, after everyone headed home.
Imagine, then, my surprise to be hurrying to the only local liquor store I expected to still find open at 9:57 pm on Thanksgiving night, fervently hoping to get there before they locked the door. The stock in my cooler had been raided mercilessly throughout the day. Not a bottle remained. In fact, you could hear crickets chirping in the ice bath within.
Even more surprising was the fact I was pleased to find that my beer had completely vanished.
If you’re anything like me, there have been days in your life when striving for Better Beer has been a test of patience. Always a rewarding test, mind you, but a test nonetheless. I’m surely not the only person in the world that’s been labeled derisively as a beer snob at some point. And even if, like me, you’ve chosen to cling to that moniker with intense pride, sometimes the mocking still stings a tiny bit. I’m also certain that many of you know how lonely it can be at the grocery’s beer case as you carefully consider your options among meager choices while a cluster of friends waits impatiently at the exit, with an on-sale 30-pack of something relatively tasteless in their hands.
Believing in Better Beer is not always for the weak of will.
When I reached into that empty cooler last Thanksgiving, I felt a little vindicated for the years of weathering audible sighs and good-natured ribbing because I refused to drink beer I didn’t enjoy. The vacant cooler wasn’t the best part, though. That came earlier in the day when I noticed one of my guests pulling an Edmund Fitzgerald from the ice. “I have to be careful not to drink too many of these,” he said to me. “With the darker ones you’ll feel it pretty quick. But even so, I’m always glad to hear we’re going to Puddin’s house, because I know you’ll have some good, tasty beers.”
Admittedly, in the long run, putting up with a little shenanigans from people who just don’t get it about craft beer is, well, eventually its own prize. I mean, ultimately, you do get to enjoy the beer. But when an opportunity comes along to spread your love of Better Beer without pressure or judgment and it results in a great experience for everyone, well, now that’s a day to be pretty thankful for.
I haven’t decided yet what I’m going to offer my guests this Thanksgiving,* but you can bet your last Christmas Ale I’m going to have a few more bottles on hand than last year.
In fact, I might even set aside a private little stash for later.
*Why, yes, I am taking suggestions. That’s what comments are for!