The Beer Snob

I guess you need to know that I’m a beer snob.

Well, not a snob really, it’s just self-deprecating shorthand to describe what I really am, a bona fide, card carrying beer judge, a connoisseur of beer style and the application of that style at the appropriate time and place. Because it enhances my enjoyment of beer, company and situation. Because it makes sense to dissect something that gives me so much pleasure. Because it helps me make the best of the beer selection I have at hand.

You also need to know that I tend to speak my mind, on beer related topics or otherwise. To a fault.

So at the end of a long, fruitless day of bird hunting, still at least an hour from camp, three of us drove through a wide spot in the road just at dark. The time when all neon signs earn their keep. The discussion was short, verging on telepathic.

“Hey, what about – ”

“Yes.”

“—a burger?”

“They have beer.”

“Let’s do it.”

A clear space at the end of the bar. The bartender’s attention as soon as we sat down. Both good signs.

I searched fruitlessly for a beer list, ultimately reading the beer labels through the frosted cooler doors as the bartender asks, “what’llyouhave?” I don’t want to slow them down, they’re working. Still, there are important decisions to be made.

But it’s easy in this instance.

“I’ll have a Budweiser.” Beer connoisseur doesn’t mean lamenting the lack of a properly decanted Saison DuPont at the end of a hot day. It means understanding the choices you have and making an informed decision. Then appreciating that decision.

The bartender, clearly the master of her domain, never turned away from us. She simply reached behind her and into the cooler for my beer. Blindly, confidently. Three syllables, no sibilance, no slurring. Budweiser.

A quick tilt at the opener screwed to the bar, left hand grabs the napkin and slides it in front of me, right hand sets the beer down in the center of the napkin.

Coors. Banquet beer. One syllable, sibilant.

I can’t be sure, but I feel like my buddies were staring at me. A pregnant pause, waiting for my reaction. I’m sure they heard me order a Budweiser, not a Coors. A slow smile spread across my face. It was with some amusement that I picked up the stubby bottle, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying a good beer.

We ordered our burgers, watched the bartender spar with the cook (her sister and co-owner as it turns out) and chatted with the folks around us. Food came and we ate it. Got advice on where to find birds. Discussed the bag full of water and pennies to keep the flies out of the kitchen. Settled in. Talked about the days ahead.

When the time came to replace the empty bottle in front of me, I ordered a Budweiser again.

Frankly I was looking forward to a compare and contrast exercise with the two beers. Both American lagers. Each made to meticulous specifications by their respective breweries. Tight tolerances. Light flavors. No place in the beer for mistakes to hide. Mass market lager. Factory fodder. All this in my head. Occasionally I can keep my mouth shut.

Without turning the bartender reached blindly behind her and into the cooler for my beer. Three syllables, no sibilance, no slurring. Budweiser.

A quick tilt at the opener screwed to the bar, left hand grabs the napkin and slides it in front of me, right hand sets the beer down in the center of the napkin.

Coors. Banquet beer. One syllable, sibilant.

Couldn’t have paired it better myself.

Drink your beer and eat your meat, there’s more work to do tomorrow.

2 Comments on “The Beer Snob

  1. Great story…but I’m wondering about “the bag full of pennies and water” to keep the flies out of the kitchen. Say what?

    • Hey Tom — It was mounted just over the door to the kitchen…We didn’t really understand it either, but they swore it worked, so we just smiled and nodded.

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