When it comes to their choices of beer, drinkers are as loyal to the brands they drink as to the sports teams they support.
I, for one, have no loyalty.
I refuse to drink one specific brand and I will take an import over a domestic brand any day of the week.
If imports aren’t offered, I’ll take my spirit of choice: a single malt Scotch whiskey served neat - not blended, not a pure malt, not Canadian, American or even Irish, just Scottish.
To me, imports have more to offer - it’s that simple.
There are over 2,000 different brands of beer in the United Kingdom alone, 1,250 brewers in Germany, and I can’t imagine the many more centuries-old breweries there are all across Europe. With so many choices to sample from, how can I say no?
For me, drinking doesn’t mean what it used to.
Back when I was celebrating my youth it used to be the challenge of who could drink the most and for how cheap. It was all about getting blitzed and taking on the night.
Thus, there were many nights of the beer tasting like aluminum instead of like beer.
However, unlike those past glory days, I don’t mind if I have to pay a little more to drink what I enjoy now; it’s quality over quantity.
But, this doesn’t make me a snob - just an aficionado.
My world of taste has expanded. I don’t feel superior drinking imports and I don’t flaunt it.
I don’t frown upon people who choose to drink domestic, either.
I know many people who still continue to drink domestic and even god-awful, subpar domestic drinks. I’ve paid my dues and donated plenty of pocket change to our domestic brewers, but that relationship ended long ago.
These days, I like to know what I am drinking and the processes practiced to achieve it.
If it is beer, lager, ale or stout, I want to know how the hops, barley and other ingredients are used to acquire the unique flavours of that particular beverage.
If it’s Scotch, what part of Scotland is it from that gives it its distinct flavour?
When it comes to wine, I want to know about the grape varieties, the cellar life and the proper type of glass to use.
All these little details I didn’t care to know in the past, but now I have an appreciation for what I choose to drink.
So, I enjoy imports such as Lowenbrau, Kilkenny or Newcastle Brown Ale, just to name a few. I enjoy how they celebrate their histories and I want to celebrate that history, too, with a raised pint, laughs all around, surrounded by good people.
At least these days, unlike in my younger years, I’ll be able to remember those memories.
Adam Petrash aspires to sample many imported beers, if not all of them, in his lifetime. Yeah, that’s a lot of beer.
Published in Volume 66, Number 1 of The Uniter (September 2, 2011)