Last week I went to a bar try a brewery’s new beer (you can read more about that here) and had an interesting experience. I was sitting at a small table with my boyfriend and fellow beer-lover Mike Lauter (yep, that’s really his last name) and behind us was a middle-aged man sitting alone. Each time the waitress came by, he asked her a lot of questions about beer, and she was able to help him try out a few things that he hadn’t had before. When he was asking her about IPAs, I turned around and offered the suggestion of Maine Beer Co.’s Spring Pepper – a beer that I thought he’d like. He gratefully accepted the recommendation and we all started talking. Mid-way through enjoying his Peeper (which he loved) he got very serious.
“Now, I’ve got kind of a vice, you see. And a kinda dilemma.”
Thinking that he was going to confess something kind of personal or uncomfortable, I shifted a little in my chair.
“I’m really into NASCAR, and one of my favorite drivers, Kurt Bush he drives the #2 Miller Lite car. Now, I’ve never had Miller Lite but I gotta know – is it really as bad a swill as they’re talking about? I mean, I gotta support my driver and I’m a huge fan so I have to understand if he’s doing it for the money or if it’s possible that he really drinks it.”
I explained to him the Miller/Bud adjuncts thing (Miller uses corn, Bud uses rice) but reiterated my philosophy that there’s a time and a place for all beers. On a hot day, when you’re watching a race, maybe you want something thin, light and “drinkable.” And it really comes down to one’s own tastes in the matter. But basically, they’re big, they’re popular, and they’re consistent (and have a healthy ad budget), so they’ll be around for quite a while.
He considered my comments and called over the waitress, “Now, don’t hate me for asking, but do you have Miller Lite?”
“Eh, we have Bud Light.”
“Alright, I’ll take one of those. Though, does anyone know CPR, because if this is really terrible you all might have to revive me,” he laughed.
As she went off to get the beer I realized that I’d been witness to a lot of people trying a new beer. I like to see the look on their faces when they try a beer for the first time and try to wrap their heads around it. But this was so interesting – a deliberate move to understand why something is both adored and hated, depending on who you ask. He kept the last few inches of Spring Peeper in his glass to compare, and chuckled when the waitress presented him with a bottle of Bud Light as if it were a fine wine. He raised the bottle to his lips, took a sip, and paused.
“It tastes like water!” (Pause)
“Okay, at least it’s not disgusting swill. I have a little bit more respect for the guy now. Though I don’t really know why you’d wanna drink a beer that taste like water.”
As we ended our evening, I was happy that there are still some people out there making decisions to investigate, explore, and be adventurous with beer. And maybe that means trying the beer that everyone tells you is terrible – just to make up your own mind. After all, if beer drinking is really an adventure, why not step out of your comfort zone? In the end, it was great for me to converse with such a curious spirit – who really took everything in, considered it and then formed an opinion. I could learn a lot from this guy.