Sitting at a bar waiting on a friend I was approached by the bartender and asked, “What can I get you?” I never give beer any serious thought as I like most anything, which is to say anything so long as it has alcohol in it. I don’t go crazy over what hemp beer is being tapped this week. I find it hard to get excited about anything hemp, and if I wanted to drink a shirt I prefer Egyptian cotton with a nice French cuff. Beer and wine are the new gateway drugs to one-upmanship and snobbery in the drinking world, much the same way kale chips and kohlrabi slaw is in the food world.

“Guinness,” and off he went to begin the ritual pour which I had been certified to do at Guinness while I was in Ireland. Truthfully, had I been allowed I would have forgone the ritual and did a keg stand while the crowd sang The Irish Rover. But beer folk are a funny lot and take these traditions seriously. To me beer should be comfortable and familiar. Beer snobs are like twenty year old sailors in a brothel on payday. They want to try everything but leave broke, empty, with some kind of rash, and never seem satisfied.

Settle down beer aficionados, I love beers of all provenance and styles. When I go to a chef friend’s place they don’t ask what kind of beer I’d like… they give me a beer and I drink it. I’ve never had a bad beer this way. I have had bad beer when left to my own devices, friends, bartenders pushing beers, and “buzz” about a beer being great. As with coffee, wine and cheese I like what I like, and the so called experts insist my choices are the result of ignorance or being dropped on my head at birth.

I’ve had so many beers that my liver shudders at the thought, and at one time in my mid twenties I could have driven a large nail to flush with said liver. I’ve had everything from Sam Adams’ Utopiasto Schlitz, I can tell you with one hundred percent certainty that if you have too many of any of them, you won’t notice a hint of apricot or how frothy the head is when you’re booting behind a dumpster at 2 am. So grab a beer you like. Grab one that helps you recall a favorite memory through taste, a place in time, a special event…

It was a warm fall afternoon on a patio overlooking a barren corn field at my aunt’s house. My father and uncle just got back from the farm where they helped bring in the last of the corn silage. They wore dusty white t-shirts and jeans that smelled of corn and diesel fuel. They looked like older versions of the 50’s era teens they once were. My aunt handed them both ice cold beers, and they both took mighty gulps to wash the day’s dust away.

I was nine, dad ruffled my hair then with a wink he handed me the beer and asked, “You want a sip?” My mother’s protest fading into the background I took a sip… a malted taste and icy carbonation I could feel, taste and smell all at once. Tipping it back again I started to chug. My uncle began to laugh his cackled laugh, and my father snatched the beer back while shaking his head and smiling his crooked smile. That was the only beer I ever shared with him. A rite of passage into adulthood usually reserved for your twenty-first birthday and I had done it at the age of nine, not knowing it would be the only time.

“Here it is” said the bartender startling me. I drink it in and in that first gulp I can taste for a brief second, that first beer I ever had. It’s not important that your beer was brewed using Icelandic glacier water, or that the hops are so rare that they are only grown in moonlight behind a man named Gunter’s house in Bavaria. What matters is that you like it. I’m certain that first beer my father shared with me was a mass produced can of ice cold crap to most beer folks. I’m equally certain that all these years and many beers later, it was the best beer I ever had.

18 thoughts on “IT’S JUST BEER

  1. First beer I tried for myself would have been skunky Molson, my brother and two cousins swiped a six pack at a family reunion and had no bottle opener…. oh the sorrow! Thanks for taking a second to read the story. Glad it brought back memories Don. Have a great Saturday…Pav

  2. My first beer was like yours, my Dad sharing a sip of his (eewww) Miller High Life, which he had cupped a pinch of salt into. After that, me and my friend Wayne made a ritual of perusing the skunked beer from the trash behind Mros. Variety in Farmington. The ambiance was kitchy, but the price was right. I like your telling and find it interesting that most of us were brought back to our first beer part of the story.

  3. My memory of my first beer was also with my dad, but unfortunately, I was 5 and spat it out immediately. My dad then gave me a look which said, 'let that be a lesson to you not to ask me again'!! 😀 Good times!!

  4. Thanks so very much for your kind words… I was surprised to find out that in Ireland more times than not they make "Irish Coffee" with instant coffee because it tastes more…coffee'er?! LOL. Thanks very much for reading and have a wonderful day!

  5. That reminds me of a lot of things not just the first beer I shared with my dad but all the things that I did with my dad. Yes, I was a daddy's girl…and that his favorite coffee is still Folger's to this day….not that it was great but that it was instant…and still the best cup of coffee I ever had because I drank it with my dad! Thank you for the beautiful story!

  6. When I was 9, my older sister told me that I should drink MGD. I looked at her point blank and said that I was going to drink Bud Light like my daddy. Now my brother and I drink fancy pants beers and our dad wonders where we came from! 🙂

  7. My grandfather gave me first sips when I was a wee lad. I'm guessing 6 or 7. He always had a shaker of salt next to the glass and would shake a little salt in. Loved that first taste and 40 some years later, I gotta admit I still do.

  8. When is a beer not just a beer? When it's a prompt to bring back memories, both of sharing one with your dad, but also of booting behind the dumpster at 2am. Sometimes memories make the simplest things taste that much better.

  9. Exactly… hey don't get me wrong there is some bad beer out there, but in the end most of it is pretty good to really good. Really appreciate your kind words and I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Have a super day!

  10. Love this post! You're right, people get way too serious about beer, when it should be all about fun, friends and what you like. Also, What a great memory to have of your dad! thanks for sharing!

  11. My dad lived long enough for me to have a beer with him, but he only drank twice a year and by the time I was 21 I thought I had better things to do on Thanksgiving and New Years. Guess that's what they mean by stop and smell the roses. Thanks for reading and commenting buddy.

  12. Love this post. First beer I had was back when I turned legal drinking age. (yup father would have killed me for drinking underage). Actually on my birthday my father took me to the local tavern for a beer. Had a Labatt's 50. Actually had two then walked down the street to our apartment. One of the best memories I have of my dad.

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