I probably didn’t have the “normal” experiences that a lot of people had in high school, drinking the cheap keg beer or whatever was on hand. I was one of those guys in band who didn’t drink. Yeah. Not for any real reason, either, I just didn’t want to drink. As you might imagine, I was super fun to be around most of the time.
When I finally got around to drinking, I was a liquor guy. My very first drink was a Long Island Iced Tea (I don’t know why, maybe I thought it’d actually taste like iced tea, when really, it’s lighter fluid). I was a whiskey guy for a long while, before becoming (and remaining) a gin man. I thought I had missed my window for acclimating to beer. Anytime I tried some from a keg at a party or from a pitcher at the bar, I didn’t get it. It didn’t really taste good. And then I’d drink 20 or 30 more cups.
It wasn’t until I hit up a small local eatery with TENS of taps on hand that I really discovered other beers. Just a little place, I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it – Old Chicago. Their “World Beer Tour” (finish 110 beers, get free stuff) intrigued me, so I signed up, because what else was I going to do with my money? Actually, my mom and her coworkers would meet there once a month, and since she loves her family, she’d invite me and pay for my beers, and my dad liked taking my brother and I there for dinner every now and then. Worked out pretty well for me.
I realize now that Old Chicago isn’t exactly a bastion of beer, especially when a number of the beers I thought to be new and exciting “craft” beers were actually made by one of the big three breweries. And with most of them, I still didn’t really get it. I didn’t like them, but continued plowing through them so I could get a baseball cap and my name on the wall. Then, a revelation. Left Hand Milk Stout. I hadn’t had many stout beers. There was Guinness, which I liked, but that’s really about it. So this was a fairly new style to me, a smooth beer that wasn’t bitter at all, with some sweetness, just (to me) an explosion of flavors.
This discovery changed things. I went on a stout kick, which led to porters. Fuller’s London Porter was the next beer I remember saying “wow” after drinking. Then I started branching out. I saw other beers from Left Hand at the store, so I’d give them a try. I saw other breweries I’d never had, and wanted more. I was hooked.
Now, years and years later, I’ve been around the world at Old Chicago, got a saucer on the wall at the Kansas City Flying Saucer (200 beers), and still want more beers. I’ve gone from a stout fellow to a hop head, and everything in between. I’ve found the stories behind the beers can be better than the beers themselves, that craft and home brewers are a crazy, dedicated bunch, and that people hundreds of miles apart can bond over the appreciation of a fine brew. I think that’s kind of our idea here. To share our love of beers, find new ones, and have a good time doing it.