Session 15: Where It All Begins

Posted on 05.02.08 9:22PM under Stories, The Session

Welcome to The Session. See our fine hosts Boak and Bailey for the full roundup of other posts on the same topic. Tonight’s post is about where the love of great beer began for me.

I am not like a lot of other people. I never drank beer in high school. All I ever seemed to see was yellow fizz, and it was gross. Even in college, beer wasn’t really high on my list. I was always too scared to try to use a fake ID before I was 21, and I wasn’t really too motivated to pursue what I thought beer was at the time.

My roommate in my Junior year tried to get me to like beer. He tried with some of the right stuff, too. He was a big fan of Bass. He tried with Sam Adams. He tried a few others. None really hit the spot for me. But I kept trying. Here’s where it gets fuzzy… but then suddenly one day it’s nickel night at the college bar and I’m getting drafts of Red Hook ESB for a nickel apiece and loving it. Come to think of it, they had a pretty decent beer selection in the late 90s at the Civic Pub.

So that would seem to be the end of it. I started on good beer and never looked back. But that wasn’t the case.

As I quickly got very interested in beer drinking while my college career entered its waning year(s), I took a more typical collegiate approach to the stuff. It soon became a quantity game, where quality was secondary. Sure, I would still go for the good stuff on nickel night, but at the liquor store, it was hard to pass up that 30-pack of Icehouse, given its low cost, high efficacy, and my limited budget.

This back and forth lasted for quite a while. A good eight years. I would go through 30-pack-of-Busch-Light phases. Then I would go through times where I would get good stuff. I was still frugal about it, and had no favorite brand. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale often had the best price on a twelve pack, and was one of my favorite tasting beers anyway. But I would go Harpoon, Magic Hat, Sam Adams, or anything else I could get in a twelve pack and was on sale. Then I’d suddenly revert to Busch Light drinking. And so it went on.

Then sometime around Christmas 2006, I stumbled into my enlightenment. I quit my job. We sold our house. We moved to a shoreline community to take some time off. I had always wanted to make beer, and so I got started with that. Part of making beer was trying a lot of different beers, so I would know what I wanted to make. I knew that I was a big fan of IPAs, but it wasn’t long before I’d tried all the IPAs I could get and I couldn’t find any new IPAs on the market around here. So I had to branch out.

Before I knew it, I was calling every liquor store in the phone book looking for a Saison. This is how I found Gordon’s Yellow Front in New London, CT. They have several Saisons, not to mention a million other beers there. I started dropping $50 at a time at Gordon’s and spent summer of 2007 drinking Belgian Tripels, as well as homebrews. Then when the colder months set in, I was moved by the seasonals. Once I couldn’t take the Barley Wine and Imperial Stout any more, I started poking around other brands and styles I wasn’t too familiar with. And that leads us to today.

I have to say that I am really mainly attracted to American versions of British tradition brewing styles. In particular, I still love a big Imperial IPA or even a regular IPA. I drool for Russian Imperial Stout or a good solid non-Imperial Stout. And when the weather’s warm, I love an American Wheat beer. Skip the phenolic bananas and cloves for me; just give me a refreshing and slightly tangy wheat character.

So there you have it. I started out right, but quickly strayed from the path. I reconnected here and there over the years, and finally about a year and a half ago, I became enlightened to the true virtues of great beer. Then I just had to start writing about it on my little corner of the Internet.

Even though I am fairly new to the pursuit of beerdom, I have had an unusually large amount of time to dedicate to the passion over the past year, as part of our “taking some time off” program. The time off is coming to a close, but my love for great beer is strong as ever. I also have to say that waking up to an alarm really makes you think twice about that “one more beer” at the end of the night. That said, it’s time for one more beer. I think I’ll go for a homebrewed IPA.

Read Comments

  1. Posted by Boak on 05.03.08 2:51 AM

    I can relate to the “straying from the path” in a way. My parents used to get bottles of good English ale in to go with Saturday lunch, and used to let me have some.

    So I developed a taste for ale early on, but when I was at university, and then starting out as an accountancy trainee, it was easier to drink what everyone else was drinking (guinness at university, Stella after bean-counting college)

    Nice post, thanks for contributing!

  2. Posted by Boak and Bailey's UK beer blog on 05.04.08 3:04 PM

    […] gives his story here. It’s also and important part of the story for Rick at the Brew Blog, Keith at Brainard Brewing, and Wilson at Brewvana, who was also lucky enough to be born with “the beer gene”. […]