Coolness On Tap.

beer1I liked beer because I thought it was a grownup thing to drink. This was when I was four or five and before that causes any alarm let me assure you I was only allowed to try an occasional sip of beer, and the only time I might have even come close to drinking more than that was once when my father was changing the car’s oil and had a beer resting on the hood. Or at least he thought I did until he found me sitting under a tree in the backyard holding it. And I doubt I drank very much of it because, like I said, I liked it because I thought it was a grownup thing to drink, which is my way of saying I really didn’t like it. And truthfully I still don’t like the taste of the stuff my father drank. I can’t remember what it was specifically but it was one of the major brands of watered-down swill that’s passed off as pilsner, a misnomer so egregious the one thing both Czechs and Slovaks still agree on is that it’s like trying to pass off a sow’s ear as a Prada purse. Holding a beer was an image thing. Holding a can of beer, I thought, made me look cool and mature, like an adult, maybe even like Victor Mature, when the reality is I just looked like I had delinquent parents. I thought being an adult, being a grownup, life must be much easier. Grownups were free of all the responsibilities of being a kid. At the moment I’m having trouble figuring out what the responsibilities of being a kid were, other than homework, which I’ve since learned is a plague that affects young and old alike and when you’re an adult it doesn’t even stop when school’s out for summer, but that’s another story.

As I got older and tried beer again I thought it tasted terrible and I quit even thinking about drinking it. Yeah, I was that guy at high school parties. Lance, who had a different Mötley Crüe t-shirt for every day of the week, would crack open a can of Pittsburgh’s Pride—at 57 cents a case I think the mini-marts only sold it to underage buyers because there was no way any human being could hold down enough of it to actually get drunk.  He’d hold it out to me and say, “Dude, come on.” And I’d say no. I wasn’t trying to harsh anyone’s mellow. I just didn’t like the taste of the stuff and couldn’t see the fun of drinking something that didn’t taste good because of a misguided belief that it made us look older.

Of course I’m also a child of the ‘80’s so I remember when wine coolers were all the rage. Wine coolers, if you don’t remember, were a combination of wine and fruit juice and had tropically-themed names like Beach Splash and Island Sweat, or slightly more obscure names like Davis & Thermidor or Mötley Crüet. They were an easy way for the beverage industry to make a lot of cheap, terrible wine palatable, although the innovation fizzled out once the industry realized that a lot of people will drink cheap, terrible wine no matter what it tastes like. At least that’s what I think. I’m not the most reliable source on this since I don’t like wine, although I was allowed an occasional sip of wine cooler–or to sneak off with one when the adults got together, and nobody seemed to mind, probably because the alcohol content was so low and the fruit juice guaranteed it would go through the system so quickly there was no way any human could consume enough to get drunk.

I could be conflating the origins of wine coolers with the origins of cocktails which were originally invented during Prohibition in the US to mask the terrible taste of bathtub gin. And then after Prohibition ended cocktails were kept around and even raised to a high art form, often visually pleasing because nobody was going blind from bathtub gin anymore and nobody wanted to throw the bathtub gin out with the baby, and also because it makes you look cool and mature to hold a colorful drink in a tall glass with pineapple and cherries on a plastic sword skewer and one of those little paper umbrellas.

At least that’s what I thought when I would go to a fancy restaurant with my parents and order a “virgin” version of a cocktail–a pina colada or a mai tai without the added alcohol, since those drinks were only invented to make cheap, terrible rum. Once I made the mistake of ordering a virgin martini which was just a couple of olives on a toothpick served in a long-stemmed glass.

Anyway I’ve come to like beer. Actually I’ve come to love beer, although anymore that’s not saying much because there are so many microbreweries and so much diversity there’s a beer out there for almost anyone. There’s even non-alcoholic beer for people who don’t really want the alcohol but would like an occasional beer. Or who just don’t want the side effects, which I understand. In fact I think the beverage industry hasn’t worked hard enough to perfect non-alcoholic beer. Think how many more people would drink beer if it had the same taste and none of the alcohol. Maybe not that many more, but think how much more beer people who currently drink beer could go through if they didn’t have to worry about getting drunk. Not to mention all the associated problems, but I don’t want to focus on those at the moment because this whole idea is making me feel really good and I don’t want to harsh my own mellow. Instead I’m thinking the industry should focus on making alcohol-free versions of other beverages. Imagine the market potential for alcohol free rum–good rum, that is, not the kind that needs a ton of fruit juice and coconut to hide the taste, or good scotch. And there wouldn’t be any concern about the kids drinking it because there’d be no alcohol in it. In fact I think kids would be the ideal market. And then we adults would pick it up because the way to look cool when you’re an adult is to look like a kid.

10 Comments

  1. Bekah Rigby

    I keep trying to like beer, but I just can’t. I can’t. And it grieves my husband, who brews his own.
    Oh, well.
    At least I like cheese.
    Right?

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Liking cheese is a fantastic thing. I keep saying there’s a beer for everyone but I could be wrong about that. But I question the sanity of anyone who doesn’t like cheese and I grieve for the lactose-intolerant.
      Your husband brewing his own is also fantastic. And I know how much work that is which also makes it impressive.

      Reply
  2. Laura - Caledon Acres

    ha! I can say I beat you at the ‘taste bar’ – not a pride thing anyway lol my grandfather worked for the beer factory and every weekend they were sent home with a little over gallon of beer ‘for the weekend’. Well, ever since I was 3 (or so they told me), whatever beer my pinky finger could soak up in one shot, I was aloud to drink hahahha I have heard the story sooooo many times that mental images started to be created in my head of this 3 year old self dipping fingers in other people’s glasses for a ‘quick taste’! Fast forward 28 years and beer is still one of the favorite alcoholic drinks, right after red wine!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Being sent home with over a gallon of beer “for the weekend” sounds like the best possible benefit of working at a beer factory. It almost makes me think I chose the wrong career! The funny thing is I’ve never enjoyed the taste of any wine. That’s probably just as well.

      Reply
  3. Gilly Maddison

    Since getting very drunk on press night at the opening of an entertainment venue 25 years ago – a single drink has not passed my lips. Having had my Metz flash-gun malfunction at a critical moment in the official proceedings and having had to use an alien gun someone dumped into my hand with seconds to go before champagne corks flew, I was convinced I had nothing to give my editor to fill the spaces in the magazine waiting to go to press. So I got uncharacteristically hammered on Special Brew that night. I then left a trail of my DNA along the 20 mile round trip route to pick my children up from the baby-sitter (I wasn’t driving of course) and missed the whole of my son’s birthday the following day. The pictures were, of course absolutely fine but my liver was out of focus for weeks. They don’t call it the demon drink for nothing! Good luck all you beer guzzlers – you are welcome to any drink with my name on it. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The important thing to remember is that everything taken to excess is bad for you. Granted that also applies to moderation. And I was a bit worried at first because I didn’t know what a Metz flash-gun was, but now I know it’s for cameras. I’m really not helping with the stereotype of Americans that my first thought was shooting bullets rather than shooting pictures.

      Reply
  4. Decanter

    Wow, you give me the best idea for this post. I have just a wine table and no any place for taking glass. Now i decide i should make this type of wine rack for hanging glasses. I want to make 12 pieces of wine glass rack.

    Reply
  5. best decanter whiskey

    I just drink this beer for removing tension. Whenever i feel stress and fully tired from our office work then i drink this. After the drink, i feel fully fresh and active. Another big benefit of Beer hydrates your body slightly better than water.

    Reply
  6. lisa

    I was convinced I had nothing to give my editor to fill the spaces in the magazine waiting to go to press. So I got uncharacteristically hammered on Special Brew that night. I then left a trail of my DNA along the 20 mile round trip route to pick my children up from the baby-sitter (I wasn’t driving of course) and missed the whole of my son’s birthday the following day. The pictures were, of course absolutely fine but my liver was out of focus for weeks. They don’t call it the demon drink for nothing! Good luck all you beer guzzlers – you are welcome to any drink with my name on it.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Ah, Carlsberg. I had more than a few run-ins with more than a few pints myself. Lucky you–it sounds like you learned your lesson. Unfortunately I still have the occasional lapse.

      Reply

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