For the record, I have nothing against cheap beer. I really don’t. I probably come off as a beer snob sometimes because I talk a lot about hop varieties and malt bills, but nobody appreciates a shitty beer on a hot day more than me. PBR. Narragansett. The occasional Budweiser…I love them all. I simply object to the sheer volume of cheap beer I’ve had to drink recently.
Let me explain. I spent a week on the coast of Costa Rica, hiking and paddleboarding and surfing; It was a glorious vacation, but Costa Rica’s craft beer scene is young, and the only beer I could find was a cheap, mass-produced lager. It was kind of fun at first, like riding an old 10 speed, or having a bologna sandwich for lunch—it makes you feel like a kid again. But after a few days, the cheap beer wore on me. Each beer tasted exactly like the last—a sort of wash of corn-flavored, carbonated water.
I had no taste for it. It got to the point where I even stopped packing cans of the beer on paddling trips. My wife and I paddled two hours to a gorgeous secluded beach with white sand framed by tall cliffs. We set out our ENO Islander in the sand, and were planning on just relaxing as the waves crashed against the cliffs. But I didn’t have any beers with me so I was restless. I ended up trying to climb up a palm tree to knock green coconuts down. I wasn’t successful. I hurt myself. Is this what people who don’t drink do with themselves? Climb coconut trees and hurt themselves?
The first thing I did when I got on the plane headed back home was order a decent beer. Luckily, we were flying Delta, and Delta carries Sweetwater 420. I’m not saying it was the best beer I’ve ever had in my life, but it was in the top 10, for sure. Cheap beer is fine. There’s a place and time for it. It’s just not fine every place and all the time.