It took me a really long time to learn this lesson: Just because I like to try new and interesting beers doesn’t mean that everyone else does. Even if they like beer it doesn’t mean that they are going to want to sample the hefty stout I’m drinking, or sip on a super weird saison with me. Some people like their beer to be of the non-craft variety, and it took me a while to really get that.
A couple years back I took my mom to the Great Lost Bear in Portland, Maine. It’s a big old bar that’s been in business since 1979 and is known for its extensive craft beer selection (they’ve got over 70 taps). It was a place I used to go to with my friends when I was in my 20s and visiting home, but unfortunately didn’t appreciate their beer selection and instead would order some sticky, pink cocktail instead.
But on this visit, I was particularly excited because my mom had made the switch from wine to beer after a trip to Germany. I thought maybe I could show her their multitude of options for her favorite varieties Belgian Whites and Oatmeal Stouts (that love runs in the family, I guess). We sat down and we both spent a long time looking at the menu (which is pages and pages of beers both on draft and bottled). Like a long time. With me deciding do I get a local Maine beer because I only get to Maine a few times a year? Do I instead try something international I haven’t been able to find? You probably don’t want to see me at a bar with more than a dozen taps, because my indecisiveness takes full control.
Anyway, after a while (and multiple conversations with the waitress), I made my selection. I honestly can’t even tell you what I ordered, because I was then so dumbfounded as my mother ordered a Heineken. I asked if she was sure. I reminded her there were so many kinds to choose from and that the GLB is known for its vast selection. And she just looked at me and told me that she liked Heineken and that’s what she wanted.
We ate our lunch and drank our beers, both seeming content with our choices, but with me internally still questioning her choice. I think it was around the time I had read this Deadspin article. Sure she likes her Heineken, but she could have that anywhere, shouldn’t she want to try something a little outside of the box? Or at least a close neighbor of the box?
But then I realized: Who cares? I shouldn’t. I drink a Heineken, or whatever beer is handed to me at a BBQ or tailgating. Until six or seven years ago I was still happily stuffing a lime in a Corona every sunny day, tossing an orange into a Blue Moon or feeling exotic when I ordered a Yuengling.
My devotion to the unusual isn’t something I need to inflict on others (though I do drag people to breweries a lot). They should be able to drink the beer that makes them happy. Beer is meant to be enjoyed, and not everyone likes to sample something new on a daily basis. And even I have my old standbys when I go out and there aren’t options I’m up to trying. What’s the difference between me ordering a New Belgium Fat Tire because I’m too tired to be thoughtful with a big menu, and my mom ordering her tried-and-true Heineken? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
So if we go out for a beer (and I’m up for one anytime!), pick whatever you want off the menu, I promise I won’t judge. And you can laugh at me as I suffer through some really aggressive Hefeweizen that I keep ordering because I’m determined to make myself like them.