My Beer Journey

As everyone knows, I love beer. I am a beer nerd and will go out of my way to find new and interesting beers to try. However, looking back, I didn’t always like beer. My first experience with beer still makes me gag to this day.

I have no idea how old I was, but this was in our home back in Wisconsin. We were downstairs in the basement while the grown ups were upstairs, playing cards and drinking beer. Now you probably remember that the basement stairs sat right below the living room so if you spilled something in the living room it would spill down onto the basement stairs.

At this point, our readers can probably guess what happened.

miller can

I remember so many of these cans in our fridge when we were little. I honestly couldn’t remember what the beer was until I found this picture of the old Miller cans. 

I don’t know who was drinking the beer or who put their beer on the floor above the stairs, but someone spilled a can of Miller Genuine Draft. It got all over the carpet right at the door to the basement and it smelled so bad.

So yeah, that was my first experience with beer, and it was gross as hell. I remember thinking I would never drink beer.

Well guess what, childhood Emily. You were wrong.

Well, I guess I wasn’t entirely wrong. I have yet to drink a Miller Genuine Draft and I doubt I ever will because it’s gross.

Anyway…

My next experience with beer wasn’t until I was in my early twenties because, as you know Daniel, I was a huge fucking nerd in high school and never did anything against the rules. I never drank alcohol, I never did drugs, I never snuck out. I think I got grounded once for missing curfew because I was too busy watching weird anime at my friend’s place. That was as bad as I got. Huge nerd alert.

deschutes-black-butte-porter

Black Butte Porter is amazing and always will be amazing.

When we moved to Washington, dad started drinking more microbrewed beers and one of his favorites back then was Black Butte Porter from Deschutes Brewing. He talked about how delicious it was and how it tasted like chocolate and how it was so much better than any of the mass-produced beers. At the time, all I drank was Smirnoff Ices and Mike’s Hard Lemonade and even then I thought they were too sweet.

I looked at the Black Butte Porter in the fridge, shrugged, and decided to give beer another try.

It was so delicious. It did taste like chocolate and it was crisp and refreshing without tasting like liquified candy. That was where I started to fall in love with beer.

I started trying other beers when I had the chance, usually sticking with beer that had a low alcohol content and lighter flavors since the darker stuff was still a little intimidating. Well, nowadays I absolutely adore dark, dry, bitter stouts that dry your mouth out like a nice red wine and it was the Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout from North Coast Brewing that got me hooked.

Our Aunt Jaime was in town visiting and she went out of her way to pick up a four pack of Old Rasputin. Everyone who tried it said it was too dark and bitter, but she kept saying it tastes like black licorice. Well, I wanted to look cool in front of everyone and I like black licorice so I took a sip off of her beer.

rasputin

It’s like a warm hug in a beer bottle. 

Oh my god, it was amazing. It was rich and spicy and amazing. It was like wrapping a warm blanket around you on a cold, rainy day. It was like the smell of campfire smoke. It was like floating in a tub of warm water. It was amazing.

After that, I was always drawn to the darkest beers I could find. I would go out of my way to drink every imperial stout or porter I could find. They made me feel cozy and warm and comfortable.

I have plenty of stories about other beers that have had an impact on my life. The Tsunami Stout from Pelican Brewing, the Oktoberfest from Sam Adams, the Milk Stout from Left Hand Brewing, the Ten Fiddy Imperial Stout from Oskar Blues. I can distinctly remember the first time I tried all of these beers and how they made me feel, but I’ll save those stories for another time.

-EMS

 

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Avoiding a Reading Hangover

So we are three weeks into 2018 and I am currently on my fourth book of my fifty book goal. Needless to say, I have been reading a lot these past few weeks.

This isn’t anything new for me. When I was younger, I would read for hours and hours and hours and never get bored. I’m even considered an excessive read by my family’s standards and we come from a family of avid readers. Don’t you agree, Daniel? Am I not the craziest reader of our clan?

Anyway, there have only been a few times in my life when I’ve experienced reading burn out. Most of those instances were in college when I was required to read so many text books that by the time I was done with my homework, all I wanted to do was stare at the wall and not think. The latest instance of reading burn out I experienced was two days ago when I finished the second book in The Expanse science fiction series, Caliban’s War. I started the book on Friday and, after a few marathon reading sessions, finished it on Tuesday. That’s about 100 pages a day and apparently that was enough to leave me feeling pretty drained on Wednesday.

Wednesday night I pulled out It Devours, the newest Welcome to Nightvale novel, and had every intention of starring it, but just couldn’t find the energy. My brain just could not take it. I ended up playing a mindless phone game and watching Netflix, something simple and not requiring a whole lot of thought.

In retrospect, this past week I forgot to follow my rules for avoiding reading burn out, or what I like to call a reading hangover. I call it this because I basically use the same rules to avoid it that I use to avoid a real hangover.

Rule #1: Pace yourself

Five beers in one hour equals a massive hangover. Five beers over five hours not so much. Same rule applies for books. Don’t rush through and make sure to give yourself breaks. This isn’t a race.

This also means that, once I’ve finished a book, I’ll usually wait to start the next one until the next day. I usually need a night to relax and let my mind digest what it read, otherwise I burn myself out.

Rule #2: One kind at a time

When I drink, I try to stick to one type of alcohol. If I’m drinking beer, I try not to mix it with whiskey or wine or vodka because I know my system will get all jumbled and I’ll be sick the next day. When it comes to reading, I have the same philosophy. One book at a time otherwise I’ll get all jumbled.

Rule #3: Seek out some variety

Sometimes I’ll get used to a beer. If I’ve had the beer enough times, I’ll stop tasting the alcohol and will suddenly be able to drink a bunch and not feel drunk. Well, I may not feel drunk, but I’ll still get the hangover. When I read, I like to bring a little variety into my selections. If I’ve just read a horror novel, I’ll read a fantasy novel next. I need to make sure I’m still engaged with the content, otherwise it becomes easy to forget what I’m doing and burn out.

Well this week I forgot to follow my own rules and yesterday I paid for it. Hopefully this evening I’ll feel well enough to actually pick it up again.

-EMS