Session 20: Beer and Memories

Posted on 10.03.08 12:34PM under Stories, The Session

In January of 2007, I quit my job of eight years, sold my house, and moved over an hour away from all my friends and family. With just my wife and kids and cat I headed from inland Connecticut to the shore of Southeastern CT. It was shortly after that when I began making my own beer at home and really got into the beer cognoscenti scene. Not that I have achieved that status yet, but it was then that I began my journey towards it.

At the time, I was an IPA guy. The hoppier the better. Bitterness was what I was after. If my tongue didn’t ache from an alpha acid assault, I considered the beer “wimpy.” But I was starting to branch out a little. Just before I left Manchester, I found a great seasonal beer that I was in love with. Made by Magic Hat, it’s Roxy Rolles. It is a cold-weather seasonal. It is dark brown and quite hoppy. Sort of like a brown IPA.

I bought this beer by the case when I could, and lamented its departure when the spring came around and it was taken out of circulation. Just seeing the label of that beer makes me remember those days when our home here in Mystic was brand new and fresh. It brings to mind the absolute joy and freedom we were indulging in as we made the bold move to start a new life for ourselves.

I tried Roxy Rolles again this past January, but it just did not live up to the memories I have of it. Sure, it was OK, but it wasn’t the kind of thing I’d drink all month. This is another data point towards my opinion that a beer is more than just the beer itself, but it is the entirety of your life experience for that moment while you’re drinking the beer. Looking back at that time with that beer is a memory that I will always cherish of a great time of transition in my life.

Thanks to the Bathtub Brewery for hosting this month’s session and coming up with a nice topic that gave me a chance to reminisce for a little while here.

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  1. Posted by BobbyO on 10.04.08 12:10 AM

    Reading your reminiscence reminds me of a favorite beer-related episode of my own many years ago. It was spring semester of my senior year in college, and I had just finished a grueling, almost sleepless week of exams and problem sets leading up to spring break. I handed in the last homework due before break around noon on Friday, and returned to my dorm room to take a nap. Awaking 5 hours later, I was hungry and thirsty, and I remembered that there was going to be a keg of beer in the dorm’s office. I grabbed my favorite mug and headed downstairs.

    The half-keg had been tapped, and was perched in a trash can full of ice. I drew a mug full and drank a couple of swallows. The label on the side said Tuborg; I had had this Danish brew before in bottles, but fresh from the keg is was delightful. Clean and crisp, with a wonderful grain and hops balance, it seemed like the classic refreshing cold lager. I finished the mug and drew another. A couple of my friends had gathered in the office, and we hung out, chatted, and generally socialized. Time passed in a happy and relaxed pace.

    About 45 minutes had elapsed since my first mug, and I was beginning to realize that I might have made a mistake by not having eaten something first. The beer tasted so good and went down so easily that I had drunk at least 6 mugs, 22 oz. each, by then. I was tired and just a little bit queasy, so I thought it best to retire back to my room and my bed for a while. Just need to regain my equilibrium, I thought.

    Laying down probably wasn’t the best idea. Five minutes passed and I was feeling sicker; ten minutes and I realized that I had set into motion an irreversible and unstoppable process that had only one conclusion. I stumbled to my feet and staggered into the bathroom. I have to admit that I’ve never before (or since) vomited with such ease and lack of discomfort. Maybe having an empty stomach wasn’t such a bad idea after all. It all came up just as easily and smoothly as it went down. I doubt Tuborg could use that as a marketing endorsement, but to this day I remain impressed at how effortless the process was.

    Here I was, 21 years old, and this was the very first time that I drank enough to get physically ill. I never have been much of a drinker, and always had — and still do, for the most part — found the process to be self-limiting well before this point. Returning back to bed, it struck me: my body having purged itself of the toxic overload in my stomach, I no longer felt sick, but I had a hell of a delightful buzz. I marveled for a few minutes at this happy state of affairs, when I heard a familiar thumping knock on the front door of the apartment. Out of the blue, my girlfriend shows up: beer mug in hand, drunken grin on her face, eyes aflame with inebriated desire.

    We are such stuff
    As dreams are made on; and our little life
    Is rounded with a sleep.

    The Tempest, Act 4, scene 1

  2. Posted by Bathtub Brewery » Session #20 Roundup on 10.06.08 4:06 AM

    […] Keith at Brainard Brewing channels some enchanted headwear as he reminisces about the early days of his home. […]