When Hop Talk announced this month’s Session topic, “atmosphere,” they mentioned that, “while life isn’t all about beer, beer is all about life.”
Here at brewvana, that certainly is the mentality. The where, when, with whom and why of drinking beer are many of the elements that go into this brewvanic ideal condition of harmony, beer and joy. While drinking beer has always been in my quality world, the rhyme and reason of it all has evolved drastically over the years.
As I often say, these days it’s about quality, not quantity. It seems that I observe that rule of thumb for more than just the beer itself. In the old days, I’d say that I was a good deal more gregarious than I am now. Then, I drank everything everywhere with everyone. I’m still a nice guy, friendly to all, but the purpose behind my drinking has changed, and nowadays, I find that I’m a much better friend to a few good people, with whom I share similar interests and attitudes. Those are the people I drink with. Paul. Alan. Michelle.
If I took a closer look, I’d say I prefer hanging around folks a little older than myself. This trend began when I was straight outta college hanging around Colonel Clark, Butch and the Ruddster. They were older and wiser than people my age. Whether it was about beer or life, they had something more to offer. These days, their counterparts are Alan (how many of us attend beer festivals with our uncle?) and Ken. Drinking with a homebrew club is a great place to find like-minded individuals, many whom can teach you something. Any day of the week, I’m happy to share a beer with Grandad Dave, Paul’s old man Frank and Don Juan. It’s this wisdom thing I’m after.
That’s not to say that I’m just out trying to get fed. Having learned a little about beer and brewing, I am obligated to spread the good word. God knows there are plenty of bad words about beer. A couple of months back I thoroughly enjoyed a brew day with a young cat just getting started. I probably taught him something. My beer tastings are all about the beer education of my good friends. Talking and teaching beer was one of the most enjoyable parts of working for The Duck-Rabbit.
The people I’m with do a lot to influence the atmosphere, regardless of our physical surroundings. The where of my beer drinking is usually at home. That may be sharing a beer with my wife at the end of the day, sharing a good meal with friends or family or my annual beer tasting. I like a good brewpub or beer bar like the next guy, but somehow, I don’t get out much. It seems a bit of a chore. I find that there are three reasons: one, I’m a homebrewer and always have abundant beer around the house, with at least two on tap; two, I’m poor; and three: the fact is I’m a family man. I like being around my wife and kids, and make a concerted effort to be good at that role. Five nights a week in even the coolest looking bar wouldn’t make me a very good dad.
However, I like to hit the old pub now and again, one with a wide selection of beers on tap. It’s not necessary that there be 100 taps on the wall, but what they do have ought to be stylistically diverse. In my perfect world, an eight-tap bar would have a porter, Scotch ale, dubbel, RIS, saison, ESB, bock and Flanders red. At least half of those should be local. I’d want that bar to be dark, old-world and smoke-free, with solid pub grub and a few fancy-pants dishes that rotate, when I’m feeling like fancy-pants food. I don’t need TVs on the walls, sports-themes or waitresses with short skirts. I don’t expect the staff to be BJCP judges, but they ought to be enthusiastic about craft beer and generally knowledgeable about styles, flavors and local breweries in the area.
Local. I knew that would come up. Small businesses owned by real people. That’s an atmosphere that we should support. I, for one, am tired of pavement, chain stores and fast food. Craft beer transcends that.
People. Socializing, celebrating, living. Beer has long been an important aspect of culture and history. Brewing is a craft. My grandma made quilts. I make beer. Beer is an art. It’s beautiful and tasty, and adds to the atmosphere in my life.