When I was 15, I drank micro brews. Sure, if the only other beer around was Pabst or Milwaukee’s Best, I’d drink it, but not without a bit of pretentious grumblings.
I suppose it made me feel sophisticated to like well-crafted products. I had an Esquire subscription that Henry Goldman got me for my birthday, and I actually read it. I was far from wearing English-cut three-piece suits at that point. I wore jeans and a t-shirt, or sometimes my girlfriend’s pajamas. I wasn’t fashionable and I wouldn’t have been able to tell you the difference between a California Sauvignon Blanc and one from the Marlborough region of New Zealand . . . But I was a beer snob.
This was related in large part to geography, I think. After all, Oregon has more micro-breweries per capita than Germany. But there was something else, more high school about it. It was that being knowledgeable about quality beer actually felt cool and that shunning “worse” beers made me feel somehow better than the next guy.
I used to have this sense that, as my tastes evolved, I would become more desirable. And yes, I can tell you the difference between grape varietals and the percentages of Rye required for bourbon. Yes, I can tell you if that tie goes with that vest (I dated a designer for 10 years and she schooled me well). But nowadays, I fucking love Rainier Beer and I’m not ashamed of it. I’ll order it over a well-crafted IPA or a Fat Tire any day of the week.
Now, this may be some late-blooming sense of rebellion against my upbringing and education, but when I think about it, I just don’t like drinking what feels to me to be a loaf of bread. It makes me feel full and I don’t like that. I can drink water beers all day in the sun and not miss a beat. Micro brews actually make me feel like shit if I drink more than three of them. Furthermore, I’ve come to believe that when one is drinking, he shouldn’t lose track of what he’s actually up to: getting high. And I have this notion that there shouldn’t be room for snobbery among drug users.
I think that a large part of getting older is shedding that which is useless, like bad habits and acquaintances. And in this case, I suppose it’s my teenage sense of propriety when it came to beer. Either that, or I’ve adapted that sense of elitism to be a reverse-snob. In any case, I wish I could find Rainier in Louisiana.
David Larson, as you might expect, is drinking now, as we speak.