My father drank beer that would make most alcoholics throw up. I don’t actually remember him drinking beer regularly, but after a workout in black socks with his thousand-pound lawnmower, sitting by the pool on a hot August afternoon, or maybe at a pub with a burger, he’d crack a cold one and enjoy it. At home he didn’t drink that often that I remember, but when he did it was usually something domestic and lousy.
Dad drank Coors with my uncles, and Bud when we were out at a restaurant, but nothing that I remember having any flavor. Growing up I remember seeing a case of Black Label in the basement one six-pack shy. I’ve never seen that particular brand on any shelf in any liquor store in any town I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to some of the sketchiest liquor stores Baltimore City has to offer: the kind where you slide your money through a slot in a inch-thick wall of Lucite at 3 in the morning and hope that the scowling man behind it actually gives you something in return. When I got back from college, after my travels around the world sampling all the beer there was to offer, I looked down upon his choices. Why would he drink such piss? When there were stouts and IPAs and brown lagers and hefeweizens to relish? I didn’t understand. You poor man.
I’m writing this to say that I understand now. It’s become clearer to me why my uncles could down nine Coors Lights on a boat towing us on a raft all afternoon and still drive into town for dinner stone sober; why Dad had that look of satisfaction on his face when, covered in grass clippings and smelling like a draft horse, he would crack a bottle of [defunct regional pisswater] and take that first sip: It tasted like beer, but might have reached 3.5% alcohol by volume. It was like drinking Seven-Up; it was as close to near beer as they made back in the 80’s. It was refreshment.
As I’ve gotten older, I dislike beers that knock me on my ass immediately. I’ve mentioned this before; it’s the reason all my brewing equipment is for sale on Marketplace (still waiting; I think I missed my opportunity at the beginning of COVID) and why I don’t buy heavy craft beers at the store: they taste good but they don’t agree with me anymore. I love the taste but I want to be able to function tomorrow, not feel like I’ve been scraped off Hazel’s paws. I can tell when a beer isn’t going to agree with me almost immediately these days. I get to the third or fourth pull and it feels heavy. I’m not drinking beer to get fucked up, and I’m not drinking it for the vitamins. I want it to be refreshing and light, like I want the second half of my time on this Earth to be—god willing. Plus, fancy craft beer is expensive as hell. It’s great for special occasions, but for a beer with dinner on a random Tuesday, something light and inexpensive will do the trick just fine.
So I’ve stocked the beer fridge with Pacifico, a lovely Mexican lager that goes down smooth and tastes even better with some fresh lime, and my old friend and lover, National Bohemian [see: regional pisswater]. Both are light on alcohol, taste just fine, and most importantly, are refreshing. I can drop one in a YETI and sip on it for an hour, which is how I like to enjoy them—much the same way I drink coffee. I like refreshment. But I’m not mowing the lawn in black socks.