The beer industry moves fast. I’m going on 7 years working in the industry and in less than a decade I’ve seen certain aspects of the industry change drastically, while more rooted and foundational pillars of the industry continue to dig in. I’ve seen breweries come and go. I’ve seen plenty of new breweries pop up with their own vibe and their own contribution to the culture that is American craft beer. And although the industry peppers on full foam ahead, driven hard by the “flavor of the minute” mentality, the true animus of beer remains the same for myself.
Beer is not triple hopped upside down vanilla butter grass fed IPA. Beer is not pound cake porter aged in the Peruvian dessert with a monk, a rabbi, and a sheik’s 2nd cousin blessing it.
Beer is having a few with an old high school buddy because we don’t get out much anymore now that we’re both married. Beer is about clinking glasses with the woman you love on the beach where you first met. Beer is a hastily planned fishing trip with great friends and a much higher ratio of philosophical conversation to actual fish caught. Beer is about celebration, and sometimes it’s about reflection. Beer is about cracking a few with your brother and reminiscing about the grandparent you both just lost earlier that day. Beer is about sharing a six-pack with your wife after you had to put down the dog you both loved for 14 years. Beer is about a buzz, or a heavy buzz. Beer is the end of long and successful day and beer is the end of a short unsuccessful day.
Beer is about ritual. We love ritual. You love ritual. Your mom loves ritual. We are creatures of ritual. Ritual gives us consistency in a world dominated by sporadic combustions of fake news.
One of my favorite beers is Coors Banquet beer. Why you ask? A few reasons, but mainly because it reminds me of so much. Different beers remind me of different times and specific nights. Some of which I could write about and some I for sure cannot.
I feel we get caught up in the judging and the rating and the thinking about the beer itself, rather than simply enjoying beer’s company, and more importantly, enjoying the person’s company and presence with whom you are enjoying the beer with.
One of the definitions of libation is the following: “the pouring out of a drink as an offering to a deity.” This is fitting. Just think of what a “cheers” or a “salute” is. Beer is a sacramental device to show respect and passion for your fellow man, or god, or anything external to what is actually in the glass. We’ve become accustom in this industry to doing the opposite. We are making the beer the deity itself! And we are making our ability to socialize with our fellow man the offering. Now I won’t delve into the other parts of our society with which this thought could play steady catch with, as that’s another blog for another site.
I will say this. Enjoy the ritual, but don’t enjoy it alone. And finally, whether it’s a loss or a gain or somewhere in between, find your banquet and invite friends.