Beer, There & Everywhere

I’ll never forget the first time I ordered myself a beer.

I had just turned 21, of course, and the wife and I were celebrating the occasion with dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant. This place had the best chicken fajitas I’ve ever eaten, which offset the strolling mariachi players. Sounds tacky, but it was San Jose, so despite the “entertainment” the food was authentic and good.

The waiter took our order, and the first words out of my mouth were, “Beer!”

“What kind, senor?” he asked.

“Michelob,” I answered confidently. I have no idea why. Maybe because it started with an M, a letter I happen to really like? Or the label was blue? Who knows. I was just excited to be able to order a beer legally!

A few minutes later, he delivered the beer to our table, and I plunged into it eagerly.

And, well…I hated it.

It’s not like I’d never tasted beer before. You know that scene in National Lampoon’s Vacation where Clark Griswold shares a beer with Rusty? My dad did the same when I was younger. He would pop open a can of Olympia and let my brother and I have a sip. Much like Rusty in the movie, I thought that was the coolest thing ever! As a result, I have fond memories of “Oly” and their “It’s the water” slogan. Did I actually like it? Well, no…but I was pretty young. I figured it was a taste I would grow into.

Only, I didn’t. I tried several different brands of beer that year, and just flat out didn’t enjoy any of them, so I gave up the whole manly charade and began my love affair with liquor instead.

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago. I’m in Ely, hanging out with my girlfriend. We’re at this bar and grill for lunch, and it’s a pretty warm day, so naturally we’re thirsty. I ask for an iced tea, and she orders…

A beer.

Which was totally cool, of course. I knew she liked beer. We’d had that conversation before. I’d just never seen her drink it. And then that annoying Masculinity Gene kicked in, the one that made me feel lame for ordering an iced freakin’ tea while my woman downed a Bud Light. Was this just the beginning of some long and depressing slide down a slippery slope of alcohol inequality, I wondered? I envisioned a worst-case scenario in some not-too-distant future in which she was ordering a Guinness Stout while the bartender set a napkin down so the water droplets from my Appletini wouldn’t stain the table. One beer behind and I had already developed a complex. Clearly, this would never do. My mind raced for an answer, and came up with the most logical solution ever.

I’d just have to start drinking beer myself.

Well, it LOOKS good! (Courtesy of 2beerguys.com)

And that is how I found myself in the grocery store yesterday, buying a six-pack of Blue Moon Belgian-style white wheat ale.

Ignoring the pesky Masculinity Gene, I had asked Tara for beer suggestions and she mentioned a fondness for Blue Moon, especially with a slice of orange added. This sounded intriguing to me; I figured if anything, the orange flavor would cut down on the bitterness of the beer and might actually make it taste palatable to me. So, I was all in! I bought the beer. I bought a bag of oranges. And I even got carded, which made me feel like this was 1990 all over again.

I got home and started watching the clock, eager to begin my foray into beer exploration, version 2.0. It was 2:45, which of course was much too early to break open a bottle of booze. I’m impatient, though. I tried to justify a mid-afternoon beer. After all, didn’t “Happy Hour” really only apply to drinks with straws? And what of this mysterious “beer:thirty” I’d heard reference to on occasion? Plus, hold the farm – I was also familiar with the phrase “it’s 5:00 somewhere.” Of course! I reasoned. It is 5:00 somewhere! It was 5:00 or later everywhere, in fact, except for the west coast of America, being actually a few minutes past four by now. Or, well…a few minutes before four. You say potato, I say po-tah-to. My mind made up, I grabbed the closest thing I could find to a pilsner glass in my cabinet*, opened a bottle of Blue Moon, tossed in an orange slice, and took a sip.

{* For the record, why does it matter what type of glass we drink alcohol out of? I once started to pour wine into a regular glass that I’d just drank water from, and my dad acted like I was committing treason or something. I don’t care what anybody says, a glass of merlot would taste just as good in a Dixie cup if push came to shove…but I digress}.

Where was I? Oh, right. I took a sip. And…

…well, let’s just say beer is still a taste I am waiting to grow into.

They make it look so good on TV, the bottle glistening with condensation, the frothy and foamy head a meringue-like cloud of bliss. Oh, and there’s that scene in The Shawshank Redemption (best Stephen King adaptation ever) where Andy Dufresne secures ice cold beer for the inmates tarring the roof beneath the hot sun. You can tell by the looks on their faces that those bottles of beer are like heaven in a glass – the best thing in the world they have ever tasted. Is that the secret, then? Do I have to go commit some crime, get sent to a maximum security prison with an evil warden, play Italian opera music over the loudspeakers, prepare tax returns for all the guards, and then volunteer to tar the roof on the hottest day of the year in order to finally appreciate a cold beer?

‘Cause I’ll do it.

My Masculinity Gene won’t hear otherwise…

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40 thoughts on “Beer, There & Everywhere

  1. Beer is definitely an acquired taste – I’m kind of a beer snob. I do like Blue Moon a lot, but I also tend to gravitate towards ales and lagers. I like Sam Adams and lately my go-to beer has been Shipyard Pumpkinhead for fall. But I will also drink Bud Light or something when I go to shows because its a) Cheap and b) won’t get me drunk as fast as other beers do, and when I go out and have to drive home, well, thats important. :)

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    1. I’ve been hearing a lot about those pumpkin ales…and I’m curious. Then again, I’m sure they’re not as good as, say, the pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks!! Might be worth checking out, though.

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  2. Meh. I agree that beer often *looks* good, but it’s still kinda, well, beer. Samuel Addams will have their harvest and holiday brews out in a few weeks (if not already… what do I know?) and I’m always a little tempted. But not enough. I know that underneath it all, it’s still beer. Ick, (Incidentally I have the same problem with eggs. They might *look* good… but blech.)

    But of course, I don’t have a Masculinity Gene to try to live up to. Live down to. Pretend to care about. Whatever. Good luck with the beers, anyway. ;)

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  3. Oh my friend, I can so relate. Not to the Masculinity Gene and all — but I’m supposed to be the fun-loving, kick-back-with-a-cold-one chick. Yet I hate hate HATE the cold ones!

    Boyfriend Brett is a Blue Moon fanatic. His latest fave is the seasonal Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale — I did taste it, and it didn’t make me want to vommit. So that must be something, right?

    (And BTW, I’d suggest to Blue Moon that they add that to their tagline: “Doesn’t make you want to vommit.” I’m sure they’d sell them by the buttload with that kind o’ marketing magic…)

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    1. Not only are you a fantastic freelance writer, Mikalee – but I also see you’re a marketing genius. A genius, I tell you!! Blue Moon Brewing Company (which is really Coors…shh) totally needs to put you on their payroll!

      And another voucher for the pumpkin ale. Hmm….

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  4. “while the bartender set a napkin down so the water droplets from my Appletini wouldn’t stain the table.”

    HA! LOVED that, Mark!!!

    Well, here’s the thing with me about beer. I love the smell of it, but not the taste. Isn’t that odd?

    In fact, I only really started drinking any kind of alcohol like 4 years ago. I had a bad experience with white wine yeeeeears ago, so I figured that alcohol just wasn’t for me. However, 4 years ago I decided to try wine again (red) and OMG….I freakin’ love it! Not only the taste, but the whole ritual of wine. But it has to be red (pino, cab, shiraz). However, I’m a light-weight…one glass and I’m under the table – HA!

    Cheers!

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    1. A bad experience with white wine? Interesting! Sounds like a blog post just waiting to happen (hint, hint).

      I’ve recently developed more of a liking for red wine than in the past myself. It takes more than two for me to end up under the table, though!

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  5. Oh well Mark…yeah…beer does take some getting used to. I could never acquire a taste for the stuff either but wine and alcohol…oh yeahhh…ahem…which is why I don’t drink anymore.

    Anyway, there may be a beer out there somewhere for you and I suggest that the next time they have a beer tasting event, you should go. I know that they exist because I’ve seen them advertised. If they have them up here, they probably have them down there too. It probably wouldn’t hurt to visit a few breweries either.

    Masculinity aside, order up a Maker’s Mark Manhattan. It starts with M and has your name in it…how could that possibly be wrong, or girly for that matter?!?

    Btw…do you pronounce either as eeether or iiither? Just curious…lol

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      1. I say it both ways. Guess it depends on the situation. Same goes with neither. Sometimes it’s niiither, and sometimes it’s neether.

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  6. This was a delightful post, Mark! I love it that you don’t like beer, as I don’t either. However, i don’t like any alcohol unless it’s a strawberry daiquiri. I’m gonna bet your not loving beer doesn’t matter one bit to Tara and might even somehow endear you to her more.

    Clearly this whole being in love thing is making you write even better, which is saying a lot, as you already wrote really damn well.

    Kathy

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  7. Only one of your readers likes beer? Seriously? I have to admit, I didn’t get into it when I was younger, but now I love a nice, dark porter. Beer tends to give me a mellower buzz than wine or hard alcohol.You’ve brave to admit you don’t like beer. Around these parts that’s about as treasonous as not liking coffee (which I don’t). :)

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  8. I let everyone borrow my DL as ID to get beer at the store or get served at the bar in college as I was 22. Then I went to the South Point bar and they would not serve me with my ID. The manager said “Are you kidding? Everyone’s got one of those.” I never could convince them it was really me.

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      1. It is very sweet that you tried the beer. Fortunately for both of us, there will be Blue Moon in your fridge when I come up in two weeks, so I can get drunk and you can take advantage of me. ;)

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  9. I still dont’ like beer… i try it again once in a while, but it still tastes awful. why drink beer when there are so many other alcoholic drinks out there that are delicious? :)

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  10. I’m with you on the the beer taste. Whenever my husband orders a beer I take a sip to try it. Some are better than other’s but I’m not a fan and a sip is about all I can handle. But I do admit on our recent trip to Germany I was enjoying a “couple” of sips of their beer. I would order the wine though for myself and that suited me just fine. My favourite liquor is tequila. Bring on the margaritas any day.
    On another note your book arrived in my mailbox the other day. It’s fabulous and definitely a page turner. Congratulations your a great writer. Can’t wait to see how it ends

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    1. If I ever visit Germany, I suppose I’ll have to indulge in beer. When in Rome, right? Only in this case, when in Berlin. Or Munich. Or Stuttgart. Or…well, you get the idea.

      So glad you’re enjoying the book – thanks for your feedback! :)

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  11. Not liking beer would not be that big a deal if you lived in Trenton, NJ, Orlando, FL, Dayton, OH, etc. But, to be living in the God’s country of beer lovers, and not to be able to appreciate and take full advantage of the HUGE variety of wonderful brews here is sad indeed. Years ago I was able to develop a taste for beer in my much younger brother, who thanks me to this day. Unfortunately, I failed my oldest son (but not my youngest one).

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  12. I’m starting to like beer more now. I refused to drink it for years, but my honey is total beer guy, so I’ve adapted. I like lighter, smooth beers, but not overly sweet. My recommendation is the just out for fall Blackberry Wheat Beer from Sam Addams.

    But gin and tonics are nice too.

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  13. Mark, it takes a REAL man to admit that he just doesn’t like beer. Whenever you and I meet in person, we’ll open a bottle of wine and drink a toast to that, and then have a couple of margaritas.

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  14. I’m not a fan of beer either. Sure, I’ll drink a glass out of a pitcher – if someone else is buying. Because my cheapness is far stronger than my dislike of beer. HOWEVER – I really like belgian lambic beers. They are sweet and come in flavors like pear, apple, etc. I also like hard cider beers. So, they are a little girlier than a Bud. But, when poured into a glass, no one can tell the difference :)

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  15. this is a new must try – pumpkinhead beer, a shot of vanilla vodka and rim the class with caramel and brown sugar! yummy I hear it is my must try for the holiday.

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