Sometimes I eat at Taco Bell if I’m in a hurry or if I really don’t have any money to spend. Every once in a while, a Taco Bell burrito just hits the spot. But most of the time I prefer not to eat fake Mexican food. I try to eat food that was made with quality ingredients — and with care. I like to eat deliberately.
Beer is not so different. I can throw back a bunch of PBRs and have a good time, but I can also enjoy a high quality beer or two — slowly and with purpose.
Not all food is meant to be gobbled. It is sometimes hard to remember this in our fast-paced, on-the-go society. But it is worth being serious about something as important as that which gives us sustenance. To some people, beer is not quite on the level of “cuisine.” But to some of us — the Germans call it “liquid bread” — it is.
Some of us believe that a Sam Adams Winter Lager is the perfect beverage for a cold February night; that a Long Trail Hefeweizen is the ideal way to finish up a hard afternoon of mowing the lawn; and that nothing goes with a hamburger and fries like a Pilsner Urquell. Some of us think that beer — not unlike its prissy cousin, wine — is a beverage that deserves critics and tasting clubs. Beer is a drink with rich history and infinite possibilities. This is why drinking good beer is worth it — worth the extra money that it costs and the extra thought that it requires.
Better beer equals better quality of life. A new ale from the Dogfish Head Brewery is gustatory and olfactory literature, as pleasurable and complex as Nabokov’s Lolita. More simply, good beer is fun.
If you are not yet persuaded that good beer is worth it, consider this: While responsibility is a word one rarely equates with drinking beer, the truth is that microbrews are often actually a socially responsible purchase. A number of small breweries use organic ingredients and environmentally sustainable brewing techniques (I especially recommend Wolavers from Otter Creek Brewing in Vermont.)
And drinking local brews helps to reduce your carbon footprint. When you’re at the Feve, remember that a delicious Conway’s Irish Ale from the Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland requires a lot less fossil fuel to get into your glass than a Coors Light.
Are you convinced yet? Or do you still think that beer is the yellow piss-water they serve at ’Splitchers? In that case, I invite you to join me on a bi-weekly basis here in The Oberlin Review. The Hop-Ed will discuss which beers are worth trying and which aren’t, which beers go with which meals, which beers go with which activities. The Hop-Ed wants to make your drinking a fuller experience for you.
Max Strasser can be reached for comment and suggestion at The.Hop.Ed@gmail.com. He blogs about politics, beer and foreign affairs at nextyearin.wordpress.com.