Did you know it’s Milwaukee Beer Week? If you’re anything like me, you figured every week in Milwaukee was Beer Week, but, as it turns out, there’s a Beer Week that’s more special than the rest, and it’s happening right now. A week-long celebration that, according to the website, is designed to “enhance beer knowledge and appreciation through a series of events…”
I’m glad I heard about it. For a guy like me, missing something called Beer Week would be like not finding out about Christmas until Presidents’ Day.* I guess what I’m saying is: I enjoy beer.
Don’t get me wrong, I also enjoy scotch, fortified wine and whatever I can squeeze from the bar rag. Whatever makes the shaking stop.
But beer was my first love. I remember my first taste of beer. Sure, I was younger than I was supposed to be, but I only took a sip. It tasted terrible. Probably because the Olympia can had been serving as my Aunt Gloria’s ashtray, but I didn’t know that; I just thought that that’s what beer tasted like…and that Oly cans were where cigarette butts came from.
But, when I turned 21, I remember the rush of walking into a liquor store fully legal. I bought a six-pack of Grain Belt, took it to the counter and threw my money down. I felt like James Bond betting on Baccarat. I stared the clerk straight in the eye and psychically challenged him to card me. He didn’t. Suddenly my smugness was rendered impotent.
Nevertheless, that night, I enjoyed a six-pack, by myself, in my one-room apartment. I danced, I sang, I had magical dreams. The next morning, I woke up, threw up, and tried to quietly sneak out of my own apartment.
When I returned to the six empty beer cans and the worst poetry ever written, I saw beer in a whole new light. I had a new respect for its power. Like a shark attack victim recounting his ordeal. The beer was just being beer, and I entered its domain. To quote the Milwaukee Beer Week website: I had a new “knowledge and appreciation through a series of events.”
God bless us, everyone.
*To my Jewish friends, please replace the preceding sentence with this one: “For a guy like me, missing something called Beer Week would be like not finding out about Hanukah until Tu Bishvat.”