“Milk is for babies, when you grow up you have to drink beer.”
It was on my 21st birthday, April 11th, 2009, that beer and I officially met for the first time. I was living in the dorms on campus at Willamette University in Salem Oregon. About two blocks from my dorm, across the tracks and down the street, was the beer mecca of Salem, Capital Market. Little did I know this beaten down bodega would fuel the flame that would later ignite my passion for brewing.
“Over 1,000 Beers Sold Here” read the peeling paint on the side of the building. I had walked by countless time before, but to be inside the holy structure itself?!? Never!
Walking in, the smell of stale fryer grease assaulted my nostrils. Caps, as the locals called it, had an excellent offering of jalapeno poppers, corn dogs and cup of noodles. Of course, the fryer grease was changed as little as possible to maximize flavor.
After passing the counter I beheld what had eluded me for 21 years, row after glorious row of craft beer. Quickly I made my choice before the sheer weight of my new found freedom overwhelmed me. A one litre of Fat Tire by New Belgium Brewery.
I couldn’t wait!
Brown bag in hand, I finished that litre on the walk back to campus.
As I drank, thoughts of the beers that came before poured into my mind—the countless keg stands, beer pong tournaments and chugging contests.
The sheer volume of cheap, light flavorless beer I had consumed was staggering! Yet, at that moment, I knew it all meant nothing when compared to the flavor and feeling one good beer can bring.
From that moment I have been, and will forever be, a true believer in craft beer.
Central to my relationship with beer is the feeling of community it brings.
A pint has the power to unite strangers, renew old friendships and forge new ones.
Beer helps you celebrate the best of times and forget the worst of times.
As I finished my Fat Tire on the walk home I realized I had left behind the babies drinking the milk that is cheap, mass produced beer. I had grown up, and my new-found sense of adulthood demanded something more flavorful, more complete—craft beer.