Beer, like so many things, is not an intellectual choice, but an emotional one. Now, the motivations may vary, but more often than not the choice to like a beer doesn’t necessarily come from the grey matter. The stories as to why a person likes a beer are always my favourite. “I love _x_ because _y_” are always the best stories. There’s no ‘correct’ reason to like a beer; whether you genuinely like it, or because you have a memory attached. The reasons to like a beer are myriad; let no-one tell you otherwise.
Contrariwise, people also have disingenuous stories that are boring – “I just drink _x_ because all my friends do, and I want to fit in” or “I drink _x_ because I wanted to impress someone.” Yawn. “I drink barleywine because that shows my beer nerd cred.” Ho-hum. “I drink this one because it’s expensive, its Premium, and I want people to see that.” Meh. “I drink this one because its the first thing I drank and I’ve never bothered to try anything else.” Sir, or madam; you simply haven’t lived. “I drink _x_ because I’m afraid people will question my sexuality if I don’t drink the same thing as them, even though I dont really like the taste.” Time to exit your comfort zone, friend.
But as I say, my favourite reasons are those ones that attach to places and times, feelings, emotions, memories, ideas, songs. Whatever it is, I love to hear those stories.
“I love amber ale and Palm specifically, because over a decade ago I was in in Europe waiting to meet a close friend, and the bar I was sitting in had a promotion running. This promotion said that if you order a Palm, you get a punchcard. Drink 4 Palm beers, and you get a free t-shirt. That saved me one more day of doing laundry, and as a backpacker, that was nothing to sneeze at. The price of it was to do what I was already going to do – drink beers in the late afternoon sun in a medieval platz somewhere in the Netherlands with a great friend. I still have that t-shirt, somewhere”
Beautiful. Who has a better reason to like a beer?
“I love James Boags Premium because it was the first beer I drank when I finished yr 12, over 20 years ago. I walked out of my final exam: Media Studies – one of the last in the schedule. I was in something of a daze as I tried to process the fact that I had just finished my final piece of assessment and *never* had to go to school again. I walked out of the hall and across the road and over to my mate’s place. I had a kind of a shell-shocked face, I couldn’t quite parse what was going on, but my mate had finished a couple of weeks earlier. He knew it was my last exam that day so he had bought me a sixer of a fancier than normal beer. He understood what was going on and he just looked at me, passed me a bottle from the esky, knowing I was done, and we sat at his backyard table with some other friends listening to Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic, drinking Boags’ while the freedom and consequences of what I had just done percolated in my brain.”
Amazing. What better reason to love a beer?
“I love Carlton Draught because it was the first beer I drank, and the memories attached to it are legion. The easiest, funnest, happiest times of my life – back when you could just call your friends and say “lets go away for two weeks” and within a few hours you were on your way to the beach, the campsite, the holiday house… Magical times. And we drank Draught, and we listened to music that we felt in our souls and which changed the way we thought about the world, and we enjoyed each others’ company, and we formed golden memories over a glass table covered with those brown bottles with their maroon and gold labels. I’ve tried a lot of other beers since, but I’ve just never really found something I like more.”
“I love Mountain Goat because it was the first craft beer I ever drank. I remember going to a bar in Collingwood, way back when getting stabbed there was much more likely. I went to a great little dive bar and, weirdly, they only had one beer on tap – Hightail Ale. I learned this when I ordered a jug of Draught, they gave me the weary spiel they must have delivered a thousand times before – ‘we don’t have Draught, we only have…’ This was unheard of back then. So that’s what we drank that evening, and I’d never been offered an option from outside the CUB and Tooheys families, and it blew my mind.”
Correct. This is the correct reason to like a beer.
“I just like clean, easy drinking lagers because they are crisp, refreshing, easy and uncomplicated.”
Yes. You are right.
“I love an adjunct stout/sour/hazy ipa/fruited pale etc. etc. because goshdarnit, it just tastes good.”
It sure does.
“I like Little Creatures because it was the first beer I really got into once I realised that beer was my thing. I drank it with my school friends, my uni mates, my work colleagues, my first and subsequent girlfriends. It’s a real bridge of time and place because I have specific memories of it with so many incongruous people when I myself was so many different people, before and after I truly knew who I was.”
Yas, king. Yas queen.
“I actually love a crisp Japanese lager because when I was over there a while back, it was ubiquitous. I was annoyed at first, I was longing for an IPA or whatever, but I grew to realise that it was the perfect thing to drink in a 6 seater izakya, smokey from the chicken fat dripping from the yakitori onto the hot charcoal. Or from the vending machine after a long walk up (a small part of) Mt Fuji. There was nothing better than a crisp can of First Pressed All Malt with a shockingly fresh tamago sando from 7-11 at some ungodly hour of the morning. In the sticky summer humidity, or the sharp, clear spring, it just hit the spot and really opened up my eyes to the merits of the style”
Yes, yes, yes.
“I drink craft because I like the idea of supporting local, small businesses. The beers available are endlessly changing: new styles, new combinations, reimaginings of classics. It’s fun, and interesting – it’s exciting, and the people who I buy from, the bars that I drink in, the breweries that I visit – everyone is so keen and eager to tell their stories and discuss their favourites. It feels like a community, and the flavours that I get to experience are so varied and intriguing.”
Bang – on – the – money.
Drink beer for whatever reason you want to. People assume the worst of me because of my history in craft beer. And I admit, I have been insufferable at times – “You drink Hahn Superdry? Why bother drinking beer at all?” But I honestly have no problem with people’s choices, And I genuinely love to hear people’s stories.
So tell me – what is your favourite beer? Why do you drink it?