I realized recently that I’ve become a bit of a dandy when it comes to beer. It’s one of the side effects of my job. I drink a lot of great beer for work, some of which just shows up on my doorstep. It’s an absurd situation, but it comes with certain drawbacks. Mainly, I’ve grown accustomed to the finer things. If a beer doesn’t have a well-thought out malt bill (preferably grown within a 100 miles of the brewery), and use experimental hops and pure spring water, I turn my nose up at it. There are days when I simply won’t touch anything that isn’t barrel aged. Other days when I just absolutely have to have a sour. It hurts to admit it, but I am what I hate the most: a beer snob.
It wasn’t always this way. I came from humble roots, raised in the backwoods of Georgia on a steady diet of Busch Light and mystery keg beer. Those days were simpler. It was a game of volume, quantity over quality. Occasionally, I’d splurge and get a six pack of something really good, like MGD. Now look at me. I get offended when I travel to a town that doesn’t have a local brewery for me to try. Actually offended.
What the hell is wrong with me?
I was faced with this identity crisis last night when someone showed up with a suitcase of Milwaukee’s Best Ice to a backyard pump track session. At first, I shuddered. Not only was it “The Beast.” It was The Beast Ice. One of the worst beers on the planet. And yet, I had finished off my last session IPA. There were more laps on the track to be had. It was unlikely that I would just stop drinking, and going to the corner store for something that actually had hops seemed like a pain in the ass. All of these reasons stacked up in favor of me cracking open a can of The Beast. Logic dictated that I slum it, but honestly, I was just tired of over thinking my beer. For a minute, I just wanted to stop being a dandy and drink something shitty.
It’s a strange situation to be in. Even the worst craft beer is better than The Beast Ice, so why would anyone choose to drink a lesser beer? But I’d argue that every beer snob should slum it once in a while. Consider it a palate cleanser. You’re washing away all of those thoughtfully crafted beers with their “rye spice” and “notes of mango,” and reestablishing a baseline. I was going back to my roots. Revisiting my heritage.
So I did it. I indulged in several Beasts, and let me tell you something: that’s really crap beer. But it didn’t kill me. And it made me truly appreciate the thought, creativity and precision that goes into even your average craft IPA or lager. Eventually, someone showed up with some Dale’s Pale Ale, so I was saved. Taking a trip down memory lane with shitty beer is all fine and well, but you shouldn’t spend too much time there. One upside to my dalliance with crap beer—my palate was truly cleansed; Going from the Beast to Dale’s was like rediscovering good beer all over again. I was born again.