Imagine yourself sitting down for dinner to lasagna. Delicious, you might think. Now imagine it for every meal. For the rest of your life. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot to love about lasagna. But come on, that would probably get old after lunch on the second day.
Now think about the beer you order. How much different is it from lasagna? What if Budweiser was the lasagna, the only beer you drank for the rest of your life? In the U.S., this is not far from reality. The difference between monotonous food and monotonous beer is that we as a general population are far more educated about the depth and breadth of food we eat, but know relatively little about beer we drink. How easily can you explain the difference between ravioli and tortellini? Now describe the difference between a pale ale and an Indian Pale Ale.
I’m not saying that there isn’t a time and place to enjoy the King of Beers (and maybe, maybe, even a Bud Light), but I certainly like to eat different kinds of food than lasagna and my pallet demands more than what Anheuser-Busch can provide by way of beer.
So why do we accept a lasagna-only diet? I would love to blame the lack of education for beer on mass media and the overwhelming marketing campaigns of major U.S. brewing companies, but it has been our own lack of curiosity that has kept beer this country’s best kept secret. We have developed a culture where it is quite casual to spend $40 while dining out, but spending $10 on a six pack we’ve never tried seems ludicrous.
Beer is an adventure – it’s exciting and requires a particularly enjoyable type of hands-on learning (as much fun as it is to read about beer…its even more fun to drink it.) There is always a good occasion (or excuse) to drink a new kind of beer.
In a way, there is nothing better than routinizing the unknown; finding a new favorite recipe, workout regimen or T.V. show is just plain awesome. Arrested Development gets funnier every time I re-watch an episode, and each new season of the Wire has me more hooked. Though something may seem a little foreign, expensive or intense at first, excitement and variety are often the reverse side of the coin. By expanding your horizons, you may find that your adventurous try becomes a new regular.
There is an incredible variety of beer, ranging from lagers to stouts, light to dark, malty to yeasty, sweet to bitter. There is more than one style of beer for everybody like there is more than one kind of food.
If you are getting your beer education from the likes of A-B, Miller or Coors, you are doing yourself a major disservice. Jim Koch, founder of the Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams), said it best when he stated, “It’s as if all we knew about food, we learned from McDonald’s”. Don’t let the big breweries in this country dictate your only options for beer. Give craft beer a real chance, order something in another language and experiment with the unknown. Be bold, keep tasting, and don’t settle for what’s easy. Hasta lasagna…its time to find the beer you’ve always wanted.