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January '03: Taxes

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June, 2003

Screw 'Em

Summertime is party time. There's something about summer that makes us want to get out of our skins and play, whether it's the longer days, the warmer nights, or just the childhood memories of summer meaning freedom, those lazy, limpid days before we started washing dishes and pumping gas to make our spending money. You can jump in the water, you can take the boat out, you can wear shorts, you don't have to wear shoes, and you can camp out and holler at the stars without freezing your lips off. 

So we have parties, picnics, barbecues, and we have to have beer. You wouldn't be reading this opinion-squib on this website if you didn't think beer was a necessity, so don't lie to me. You've got 20 friends coming over to wreck your deck, kill your grill, and drive your dog crazy, and you've got to go get some beer for the occasion.  Lots of beer. Not because you're all necessarily going to drink a whole lot of beer, but as Hunter Thompson said in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, "Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can." 

I hear you talking, Dr. Gonzo; better to have too much than to have too little, and besides, who can resist that fresh sixpack of Troegs Hopback? Or a growler or two? And if a guy happens to know Tom Kehoe and can GET a pin of conditioned Yards ESA, well, it would be just plain wrong not to score something like that. Packing a pocket of plastic, you plot a purchasing expedition to the retailer.

Get to the beer store, and then it hits you: some of your friends drink light beer. Or Corona. Or Bud. Or Heineken. You know: that mainstream stuff. So you find yourself thinking, "I guess I oughta get some Lite/Corona/Bud/Dutch Courage for them," and you reach for the brightly colored 12-packs. You do this because you're a good person, even though it means you'll be spending precious beer money on stuff you wouldn't normally buy on a dare. Hey, it's for your friends.

Here's a thought: screw 'em. 

That's right, screw 'em. Recast that last paragraph with this philosophy and you'll be nodding. "Get to the beer store, and then it hits you: some of your friends drink light beer. Jeez, those dumb bastards. Should you buy a twelve-pack of Coors Light? Well, why should you? They never buy a variety of beer for their parties, it's always Yuengling and Coors Light. Should you spend your money on their particular poison, just because they're stuck in a rut they're scared to step out of? Nope. And you do this because you're a good person: these guys have to learn to handle life at more than 18% intensity some day. It's really for your friends that you're doing it."

Doesn't that sound better? You bet it does, because I have to tell you, I am tired of being patronized, and I am done with bringing a couple of sixpacks of my own beer along to half the summer's parties (especially since half the time they get drunk by folks who were too stingy or stupid to bring their own). So the new strategy is screw 'em. They thoughtlessly force you to drink their beer. Why should you support their beer-zombie habits? You can thoughtfully force them to drink something different. 

Because you don't have to be a jerk about it. You can get something good that they might -- probably will -- like. I bought the beer for my brother-in-law Chris's birthday party in March because I was visiting the Great Lakes Brewing Company the day before, and we figured it would be nice to pick up the beer direct at the brewery. Now, I could have just got two cases of Burning River Pale Ale, and two cases of the Edmund Fitz Porter, and Chris and I and about four other people would've been happy as clams. But people will drink good beer if you just give them a chance, so I picked up a case each of their Dortmunder and Elliot Ness Vienna lager.

There's a big tip, too: a Dortmunder Export is the key. Eight out of ten geeks will tell you like it was holy scripture that the thing you want to give to mainstreamers to show them the light is pilsner. Duh, boys, pilsner's got hops in it, and that's why they're not drinking IPA. But a Dort is like pilsner without the bite: it's smooth, it's got a nice medium-light body, and nothing prickly sticks out of it. Great Lakes' Dort is their best seller. Victory's "All Malt Lager" is a Dortmunder, and it goes over just fine with the mainstreamers (geeks with any sophistication will like it, too).

Like I said, screw 'em. But there's nothing wrong with letting them enjoy it. And who knows? They might like it so much that in a couple years they'll say to you, "Dammit, you've ruined me for regular beer!" Ah, sweet, sweet syllables. And you did it all for them.






Copyright 2008 Lew Bryson. All rights reserved. 
Fee required for reprints in any commercial media.
Revised: October 31, 2003