Anytime I strike up a conversation with someone new, they always get around to asking me, “What is your favorite beer?” Sometimes they want to know my favorite Terrapin brew. Other times they are asking what other beers I drink besides Terrapin.
Typically, my stock answer to this question is, “I love the Terrapin Hopzilla Double IPA.” Or instead, I’ll talk about the last craft brew I had, whether it was one of the larger ones like Lagunitas, Sierra Nevada, or Bell’s, or one of the many new ones opening that I’m experiencing for the first time.
Lately though, I’ve realized these people are asking much more than what beer I like. They are trying to understand me as a person. They are actually asking who I am.
Sound silly? Think about this. Beer is a social beverage. To me it is exactly like music. Beer can speak to me in a way that other beverages can’t. If I tell you I have a soft spot in my heart for the Alaskan Amber, it’s because I remember the first time I ordered it. I was sitting with my new bride in 1993 in a Red Robin in Seattle on Puget Sound watching sea lions play in the water. I will always be partial to a Victory Prima Pils because it reminds me of my business partner Spike, and his love for great lagers.
I don’t remember my first orange juice, milk, or soda. But I do remember my first beer. 4th grade. And no, I didn’t really like it. I recall my first Mickey’s at 17 when we did Mickey’s night at my fraternity house in college. I remember the first Guiness that I had the honor of chugging as pledge class president. (And yes, it was really, really warm. Afterwards I was held upside down over a trashcan. But that’s another story for another day.)
I could go on and on. The point is that beer is a social beverage. People relate to a beer because of an experience they have with that particular brew. Maybe it was a time you spent with someone special or your best friends. Maybe it is what you were drinking at the big game. Whatever it is, you never forget it.
That is why I am in the beer business. Not just because I love beer, which I really do. It’s also because of the people I meet and the good times Terrapin has a hand in providing for everyone. So to everyone I’ve chatted with over a beer in the past, and to all those with whom I will have the pleasure of sharing a beer someday in the future – THANK YOU! You are the reason I do what I do.
What is your most fond memory that includes beer? I’d love to hear about it.