Beer Blogging: The Gateway Drug
This is my confession: I did not emerge from the womb a fully-formed beer snob. I will admit to sneaking off to the bathroom during high school parties to pour out half-empty Budweisers (adolescence was a dark time for us all). For the first year or so of college, I was still grinning and bearing it. Most of us, I suspect, were in the same boat.
But then I started enjoying beer. Part of it was brute acclimation – if you drink anything long enough, you’ll develop a taste for it (nothing else explains PBR’s market share). More importantly, my beer-drinking horizons were expanding. Friends turned 21 and started venturing into Total Wine, the ubiquitous East Coast booze emporium. Suddenly, Miller High Life wasn’t the classiest thing you could drink on a Thursday afternoon.
But it wasn’t Chimay or Delirium Tremens that turned me on to micro brews. Instead, the “classy” beer for college kids was Sam Adams Cherry Wheat, a treacly confection that’s approximately eight parts sugary additives and one part hops. At the time, I swear it tasted like sweet nectar. I think we were all secretly relieved that beer drinking didn’t have to be such a chore.
After Cherry Wheat, the idea of social drinking suddenly made sense. If you’re 18 and Coors Light is the best you’ve ever known, the idea of enjoying a beer on your porch or sharing a six-pack with a few friends must seem utterly inconceivable. If you’re not drinking to get drunk, why subject your taste buds to such abuse? But a Cherry Wheat with dinner, a Cherry Wheat on your balcony, a Cherry Wheat to help you slog through that interminable sociology paper – that made sense. Sam Adams may be responsible for introducing me to the concept of drinking in moderation.*
A few weeks ago, I went down to the beach with some old college friends. We picked up a six-pack of Cherry Wheat for old times’ sake. Like many other adolescent fixations (Bright Eyes, a cute girl from that freshman history seminar), it hasn’t held up particularly well. But I still feel obliged to tip my hat to Sam Adams, because I don’t think I would have started drinking beer (as opposed to merely enduring it) if I hadn’t first encountered Cherry Wheat.
*If I had to reform our drinking laws, I think I’d allow minors to consume alcohol if they’re supervised by a parent or some other responsible adult. The idea being that adults not only moderate kids’ drinking habits, but they also can afford to buy the good stuff, which is better suited to social drinking.