It’s time I talked about beer. Ever since I was old enough to retain the information thrown at me in a television commercial, I was enamored with the idea of the Samuel Adams brand. I remember commercials from probably fifteen years ago talking about the love and care put into everything they make and ending with a lineup of all the varieties they offer. The spread was so wide, the labels weren’t readable on the screens of the time. That level of craft and variety excited me in a way that no other food or drink ever had.
Beer still excites me for those same reasons. I’ve been trying as much variety as I can since I was around nineteen (yes, I know), and I still don’t feel particularly well-versed in all of the varietal intricacies. Beer is beer, sure, but the nuanced differences between a Wit and a Hefeweizen are noticeable even to the inexperienced drinker, though they’ll likely not understand everything they’re tasting.
Even from brewery to brewery, there are stark differences between beers touted to be the same variety. Yes, I’m aware that that should be a given, and that there would be no point in having more than one brewery period if that weren’t the case, but let’s think about that for a minute. I posit that Miller Lite and Coors Light are more different from each other than Coca-Cola and Pepsi. I purposely picked two of the less complicated beers in this example, because the math (so to speak) is far more complicated even with Blue Moon and Shock Top, not to mention Harpoon’s UFO White and Dogfish Head’s Namaste. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that the amount of time and work that goes into brewing sets beer apart from, well, certainly anything a twelve-year-old could order at a restaurant in the U.S.
This ridiculous varietal intricacy goes much further, though. The idea that both stouts and sours are considered to be the same beverage blows my mind. Dogfish’s Seaquench (sour lime and salt) has more in common with margaritas than Evil Genius’s Purple Monkey Dishwasher (a peanut butter chocolate porter), but they’re both still considered beer. That’s a ridiculous distance within a single category, and the beer spread is far from two dimensional. IPA’s are distinct from either of these categories, as are wheat beers, and we could do this all day.
Food is art; it’s one of my core beliefs. It’s fair to assume that the audience gets more out of art when more work is put into it, and beer provides an exceptional opportunity to apply a huge amount of effort into something that’s great even at its simplest. The popularity of the great American macrobreweries will attest to that. I’m a part of their demographic too; sometimes, I don’t want to pay all that much money but want to have several drinks in a bar. Bud Light it is, at that point, and my drinks are all very distinctly beer—there’s no arguing with that.
But why is beer so good? It’s what we’re here to talk about, ultimately. First off, humans tend to enjoy anything containing an intoxicant (provided they like where it brings them), and alcohol is perhaps the most common one—depending on how you classify caffeine. On top of that, carbs simply feel good to put into our stomach, no matter what form they take. Put all that appeal into a nice, chilly pint glass and we’ve got ourselves a concoction that I’m confident will stick around until the end of humanity itself, and perhaps beyond.