Cheers! and Happy New Year! How has it been for you so far?
I spent my New Year’s — stranded by weather for an extra day — in an Airbnb in the mountains. I went for a hike by a snow-covered river, drank good beer, watched some football and stared into the fireplace. It was fairly idyllic, actually.
While the flames wrapped themselves around log after log, I fell into a Zen-like meditation as I drank a fine local can of beer.
It was the beer that my brain decided to focus on. Dang, this is good! I kept thinking. Then, I want more of this in my life. More good beer. More moments like this one. At some point, I decided to make a commitment to beer in 2022 in the form of some resolutions, nay, beeresolutions.
• Drink Less Beer: This might sound odd as the first resolution on this list considering this is a pro-beer column, so let me rephrase.
• Drink Less Beer, but Drink Better Beer: That’s better. I drink a lot of beer and, frankly, I don’t always really enjoy it. Sometimes I drink beer just because it is there. Sometimes I drink it while doing other things. I crack the can. Enjoy that first sip and then all of a sudden it is gone. In 2022, I plan to make time to appreciate more than just that first sip. Brewers are craftspeople and I resolve to treat their creations with the respect they deserve from start to finish. I may end up drinking less beer as I take more time to appreciate the good stuff* and that’s okay.
* “Good stuff” is an arbitrary term. What you think is good beer and what I do doesn’t have to be the same thing!
• Repeat: In what feels like a never-ending effort to try every new beer, I rarely repeat a purchase. Beer FOMO is real and I’ve fallen prey to it. I often give up the known great pint for the unknown liquid that has the potential to be the next best thing.
The Pandemic (the capital P feels right) has been helping me by limiting the number of draft lists I look at on a regular basis. I pay attention to the beer scene and I still feel out of the loop as to what is out there right now.
In 2022, I resolve to repeat-drink the beers I find the most enjoyable, creating my own core beer list to enjoy time after time. Of course, I’ll also be working to reduce the anxiety I currently feel that I might be missing out by not trying something new.
• Leave My Beer Stereotypes Behind: Let me tell you a story. I’ve always been against the hazy beer trend.*
In the beginning, all hazy beers tasted the same to me. They lacked that hop forward bitterness I craved, and there was a mad rush to put hazy IPAs on the market, which led to a proliferation of not-so-good products available. Plus, everyone else seemed to love them and the rebellious side of me decided that I didn’t.
Fast-forward to New Year’s. That beer I was sipping by the fireplace, I had picked it at random from the singles shelf at a nearby liquor emporium. I didn’t read the label particularly closely. If you remember, I found myself thinking, Dang! This is good.
I’ll break the suspense. It was a hazy pale ale. This isn’t the first time in the past year that has happened.
In 2022, I resolve to put my beer stereotypes behind me and be more open-minded about what beers I try and try not to pass judgment based on style or brand or reputation.
* I realize hazy beers have been everyone’s jam for more than two years and calling it a trend is a bit dismissive. I’m resolving to leave my beer stereotypes behind but I’m not all the way there yet.
• Be Brand Aware: If you paid any attention to the beer industry in 2021, you know there was a spotlight placed on toxic work cultures here in San Diego and around the world.
I always try to support good brands, meaning brands that treat their employees well, care about their community, create opportunity, and are environmentally aware and friendly, but I can’t say I’ve researched every brewery whose beer I’ve drunk.
I can’t say that I looked at all of my spending power, my consumer power, as a potential enabler of a company to do good or bad things.
In 2022, I resolve to up my efforts to be conscious of who I’m supporting, of what they stand for, and how they live up to the values I work toward living up to myself.
You may be thinking, What is this guy talking about? I just want to drink some beer. I don’t need homework. I’m already tired from work or kids or pandemic or frisbee golf. That’s a fair concern. We all got stuff.
It is unlikely we can always know what the culture of the brands we’re buying from is at every moment but once you know … you know. You have a choice on where your financial and social support goes. That is great power. Use it wisely.
• Go to the Source: On that note, I’ll close out this list of 2022 Beeresolutions by pledging to go make more of an effort to cut out the middleman.
There is nothing wrong with picking up your favorite six-pack at the grocery or liquor store. In fact, it tells those stores that your favorite brand has supporters willing to buy their product, and I’ve been doing more of that than ever this past year.
However, in a world where margins are thin and Covid has burned out hospitality workers, I’m going to get back to going to the brewery to buy my beer. The extra few bucks a small brewery makes on every direct sale add up. Starting with a four-pack of Rain Unfiltered Pilsner I pulled out of the cooler at the Pure Project in Carlsbad.
While I’m there, I’ll make a point to engage, smile with my eyes — because, you know, the mask — and be the type of customer I always appreciated when I was behind the bar.
Those are my beeresolutions for 2022. I encourage you to make some of your own. At the very least, take an extra moment while drinking every beer to appreciate that somewhere along the line, someone decided to mix hops, water, malt, and yeast together in a boil, and then put it in their mouth. What a hero.
Got an interesting story about your drinking adventures? Reach out, I want to hear it.