I Brew. Therefore, I drink!
It’s seemingly an unwritten rule that if you brew beer for a living, you must live it, breathe it and bathe in it 24/7. For those of you who have crossed my path, you certainly know that my life is infused by beer at every turn. If my body could do without water, I would just drink beer. It’s like my own personal sun and moon. No matter what time of the day, beer is always there to illuminate my way.It’s pretty much been this way since I discovered Craft Beer some 12 years ago in college. Each morning, I get up and my day starts with beer (thoughts of making it) and ends with beers (which tap I am going to stare down today)! As a brewer, most days start out with a singular thought…” What beer am I most looking forward to enjoying after work today?”
But, sometimes we are reminded that not everyone looks at life through the same three IPA colored rosy glasses that we keep by our sides. Tonight, I am baby sitting all three of my nieces. Thankfully, I brought a bottle of wine to drink. Seems my sister does not have a well stocked fridge or liquor cabinet for writing purposes. She seemingly doesn’t even have a nice wine glass to put it in. I’m pretty sure that the winery that produced this wine did so without considering me drinking out of a 10 oz water goblet. Who needs Reidel Crystal? Not me, I have a San Diego Strong Ale V goblet.
But tonight underscores the point of session 5 that I really wanted to hammer on. It’s the notion that drinking shouldn’t be done alone- with apologies to George Thourogood, I don’t normally drink alone. You see, it’s one of my favorite things to do (drink) but I rarely find satisfaction in drinking alone. Yet, I do often find that I drink alone when I am writing my blogs. It’s a silent little world.
For the topic tonight, I felt it would be most advantageous to discuss drinking from my perspective. As a brewer of unique and flavor forward beers, I often find myself holding court about our beers. Typically, this takes place behind our 25 foot altar or when I am on the road. Every so often, I hold court when I am blogging and need someone to confirm our greatness (my ego is easy to summarily invoke and then dismiss). He makes a fantastic drinking partner excepting of course, he never picks up the tab!
But let’s get back to the topic at hand. The question is how do you most enjoy drinking beers? I find for me, that without fail my favorite way to drink beer is to allow beer to come to me. It’s an easy thing to do. The only thing it requires is an open mind and someone who is willing to share the possibilities of an open mind with you. A few months ago, I had a two Pabst Blue Ribbon and pizza experience that was amazing. The beer was cold, the pizza was hot and the conversation better. That is beer for me. It wasn’t a bottle of 1969 Thomas Hardy’s. Nope, it was industrial lager and pepperoni pizza.
Over the years, I have learned that beer is an integral part of my life. For the last 11 years, I have worked with Vince and Gina by my side invoking a mantra of “Good Beer Brings Good Cheer!’ Like them, in many ways, I’ve come to view beer as my ultimate social lubricant. It is widely enjoyed by nearly every culture and is approachable from poor to the rich. In this way, beer opens doors. It opens doors for me every day that I had no clue were possible. Yet, it takes at the very least a partner to open these doors. Someone has to be willing to engage you and the bubbles in your glass long enough to hear the story.
For, if you are drinking alone, you are not drinking to enrich society, you are merely drinking for relaxation and restorative purposes. One of my least favorite drinking partners is the one who dismisses beer outside of context. I used to play softball on Sundays and most of my teammates fell into the Coors Light and Miller Lite side of Sunday. So, I would engage their sensibilities. Sometimes, you need to turn off the Preacher switch.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are numerous times when I can appreciate the solidarity of drinking alone. However, I make it a point to explain to visitors and consumers at Port Brewing that I would much rather share a bottle than drink alone.
In fact, even though I continue to have access to some of the most sought after beers in the world, I have never once consumed, by myself, a whole bottle of Cuvee de Tomme, The Angel’s Share or Older Viscosity even though I have access to numerous bottles of each and very easily could snuggle up to any of them.
For me, the essence of what it is that I do as a brewer is found in the story of each beer. It is found in the opening of a bottle on a Saturday afternoon with three friends at the house. It’s often found in the end of a Friday night at The Lost Abbey when we “think” a bottle of something nice would end the evening well. Only to find a half consumed bottle holding court by itself the next morning.
At 155 Mata Way, we make very few beers that are designed to be consumed in one setting by one person. And for that, I am quite thankful. I believe that beer is one of the most interesting conversationalists out there. If you doubt me, check out www.tommearthur.com and learn what happens to my mouth when my brain is slow to react.
Yet, beer has serviced many of us incredibly well over the years. It has been responsible for the great nation that we live in and work under and at the same time, it has seen its’ share of regulation and more importantly de regulation. It is the beverage of revolution and evolution. I for one am so very happy to be considered an integral part of the brewing evolution that we are currently witnessing.
Lately, I have been sharing more and more beer with patrons and friends of The Lost Abbey and Port Brewing. It’s an amazing experience to not drink alone. In the past two weeks, we have had a Pantry cleaning out party that ranged from Avery 10th Anniversary IPA to ten year old Old English to a bottle of 1990 Thomas Hardy. You know what? Each one of them afforded us a glimpse into a story that needed to be told. Sometimes, it was a story behind the year of the beer… other times, it was the story of how the beer was acquired. And, in the case of the ten year old malt liquor, it was the story of a white bar towel turned “do rag” on the head of a white brewer. Yet, there were friends. There most certainly was beer. And most importantly, there were stories being rehashed and cataloged for the future. It was beer as always, working as a social lubricant.
So next time you’re drinking alone. Wonder out loud why it is that you aren’t sharing that beverage, that space and opportunity with someone else. Each of us is entitled to drink beer however we see fit. Me, I am thankful each and everyday that some of the best and most interesting people I know choose Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey as a place where they want to drink and more importantly converse. Makes me want to buy the next round.
We didn’t sign a Declaration of Anything either night. Yet, you get the idea that if a brilliant idea had fomented on either evening, it someday may see the light of day. It’s possible, something brilliant will come of it. We just might not know it for 200 years. Yet, someone may be able to look back on our friendship based imbibing and reason that without each other, nothing would have amounted from that something. You see, I love to drink. Yet, almost nothing great comes from drinking alone. I promise you that!So, in the spirit of session number 5, I am throwing down the gauntlet. My friends all over this great universe have stocked my spirit with some of the best libations known to mankind. These are the things that some people would trade testicles for. Me, I enjoy knowing that both of my children can stay in tact AND I can sample their wares. SO, when you find yourself in my neck of the woods next. I will open something to get the night started off right or ended right. It’s my duty.-one that I relish. If you have been to our brewery, you know that we are good for it. It might even be from another brewery! If you haven’t made the pilgrimage, we anticipate your arrival. We have posted hours and drinking hours. God knows, they never match. There’s always good conversation and better people to meet. We’ll see you soon. And there will be more than one beer opened and shared in the honor of friend getting acquainted or re acquainted with beer in hand.