A couple of years ago, we were going about our lives like any normal couple – recovering from the onslaught of holidays and birthdays that make up our Fall every year. Our weekend plans had been centered around our beloved Florida Gators and whatever opponent they might be matched up against on any given Saturday.
Living in the South, college football is a way of life – so there’s usually a good deal of beer that goes along with the glory and defeat we all experience from September to December. For as long as I’ve been drinking, beer choice was centered around cost (read cheap) and my ability to still be standing after a 3-hour football game (coping with the ups and downs 4 quarters of football will bring).
The usual suspects (Bud, Miller, & Coors) made plenty of appearances over the years. When I converted over to Yuengling, I patted myself on the back and declared, “Now that is a fancy beer!”
Craft beer was foreign to me, and I’ll admit my ideas of craft beer brought images of heavy, dark beers or extremely bitter tasting beverages that I just didn’t think I could like. Friends spoke of the beers they were drinking, and I had absolutely no clue what they were talking about.
So as football season came to a close we made an effort to try something different. It was the perfect opportunity, as we could buy something without having to worry about a football game dictating our pace of consumption. It was a day that would change us forever, as we embarked on a beer education that continues to evolve to this day.
Not really knowing what to choose, we read over a few bottles and ultimately decided on a six-pack of Harpoon Winter Warmer. I can’t say why we chose the Harpoon…maybe it was cold outside, and the word “warm” was in the name? Or it may have been the colorful green, red, and white label that we instinctively flocked to having not yet cleansed ourselves of the Christmas holiday weeks prior?
We took our six friends home, put them in the fridge, and waited. We sat patiently as the beer worked on chilling down. A few minutes would go by and I would check to see if they were ready (with the ever reliable “bottle touch” test). Nope…not ready yet (repeating this several times).
Time seemed to creep to a halt as the beer just wouldn’t get cold. Maybe craft beer needed longer to get cold? Hmmm….no, I’m pretty sure all beer conforms to the laws of science, and as I looked down at my watch, time in fact had not stopped. Within 45 minutes, I made the judgement call that it was time to try the Winter Warmer.
We cracked open one bottle – NOT TWO – because in our warped minds, if we didn’t like it, having to finish 6 oz. of beer each was manageable (12 oz. each was just too much). If it was bad, better it sat in the back of our fridge for months than actually dumping it down the sink.
But no worries, because as we drank from the bottle ( I know, I know, drinking straight from the bottle you say? Blasphemy!) it became quickly apparent that the other five Harpoon’s wouldn’t last long. I can’t explain what we liked about the beer, I just know that it tasted different from what we usually drank. I could actually recognize the difference from our regular beer choices, and I it sparked our interest- something we hadn’t really experienced before. Sure there are subtle differences between light Macro-brews, but nothing of this significance!
So we owe a thank you to Harpoon Winter Warmer for an official introduction into the craft beer world. Since that first shared beer, we’ve tried a lot of breweries and continue to get excited when something new comes along. We’ve met a lot of the wonderful people who make up the beer community, and have found some favorite styles (sours and ipa’s in particular).
It really has become a part of our life, in a way I never imagined. Trips to different states start with a search of breweries we might be able to visit. We try to attend a lot of the local beer events and meet up with other like-minded folks. Our Twitter feed is filthy with craft beer mentions, and we really enjoy telling others about that good beer that’s out there. I love the idea that every day, there are others just like us who will turn to the micro-brew side of the beer aisle and start their own journey.