the beer cellar

Beer drinking habits are hard to break. My father, back in the early seventies, when he went out, drank only Guinness—there was only one bar in town that had it, and it was the only beer in town that wasn’t old-fashioned upper-midwestern lager. Those were dark days. But, it was the early seventies, and home brewing was ramping up, soon to be legal. My father made stout, once a year, in a food grade black plastic 50 gallon barrel. And for twenty years, for the most part, that’s the only beer he drank. Stashed it away in the root cellar, put some age on it, some real age, some of it, (he swears it only ever got better), and quit only when advancing middle age (beer, he says) started to influence his waistline. Unfortunately, this quitting coincided very closely with my own interest in beer, and I never got to taste his as an adult. People say it was the best.

Of course, then it was the early nineties, and the craft beer movement was in full swing. That bar with the Guinness turned out to be owned by another, and considerably more obsessive home brewer, Ray McNeill, for instance, and so I had no shortage of good and diverse beer on which to cut teeth. But still it would be another ten years, almost, before my father would consent to drink aught but dark beers. Habits are stubborn things.

For myself, it took me years, as I outgrew the prejudiced (and slightly precious) palate of my late adolescence, to realize that IPAs were not to be drunk sitting down at table, unless perhaps there was pizza or bar-food on that table. That beer shouldn’t be drunk cold in winter, or for much of fall and spring for that matter. That (a crisp, light) lager has its place—particularly with Mexican food, with which there is nothing on earth better to drink, I am firmly convinced.

As, in my old age, I have started to drink considerably less beer, having finally realized that not every afternoon does a beer really agree with me, so has my desire for that beer to be the right beer increased. And so, this week, finally, I have come around to the idea (very late in coming) that I ought to keep any number of different beers on hand, more beer collectively than I’ve ever kept on hand, really, at exactly the time I am drinking the least beer of my life since age fourteen.

What a pleasing prospect.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *