I didn’t have an alcoholic drink until I was 21. It’s the kind of thing that makes conversations all awkward when I mention it out loud – especially when I’m with my church friends. I know some people find it hard to believe I would abstain until the government told me I was old enough, but it’s true.
It wasn’t really a conscious decision. I remember in high school my motivation heavily relied on the potential death that would come to me if my parents were to find out. I don’t know why my fear was so high, but it made sure that I would stay sober all through high school.
Heading into college, the desire just wasn’t there. My roommate drank, my girlfriend at the time drank, some of my best friends drank. For me though, the desire just wasn’t there. It probably didn’t hurt that pretty much every weekend during January of my freshman year, I saw one of my friends head to the hospital after drinking too much.
After I became an R.A., it was more important to me that I abstained. Being an R.A. made the private college tuition affordable and losing my position would likely mean very tough decisions. Plus, I heard too many of my fellow students complain about hypocritical underage R.A.’s that would drink on Friday night, then bust underage drinkers 24 hours later.
My first beer was a pint of Sam Adams in the Indianapolis airport. I had just wrapped up a week-long leadership conference at I.U. and several of my new friends were going to celebrate at the airport as we went our separate ways. The airport bar happened to have a special – buy a Sam Adams, get a free pint glass. What better way to remember my first beer?
Now, almost 7 years later, beer is an incredibly beautiful part of life. It is an art form that some of the most talented and creative brewers are trying to perfect. The balance of grains, malt, and hops opens up everything from a simple piece of cheese to a five course meal.
So, I’m going to try to share my love in this and future posts. There are tons of great resources out there if you are trying to find good beer, but I’m going to give my own insight. First up, my own personal favorite: Bell’s Two Hearted Ale.
Two Hearted was the beer that opened my eyes to the beauty of hops and IPAs. It quickly became the standard to which I compared all other IPAs. I know Dogfish Head is supposed to be the best, but for me, Two Hearted has the balance that not only opens the bitterness of the hop, but also the floral sweetness.
I think my first Two Hearted was just a random grab on a trip to northern Michigan. Before the Bell’s hiatus in Chicago, I had a few of their brews and really enjoyed each of them. When I read the Two Hearted description and the line about it being the perfect brew for “Hemingway-esque” trips, it seemed to be the perfect brew for the weekend. After opening my first bottle, my love affair with Bell’s and Two Hearted was cemented forever.
It is not a brew for everyone. To those not familiar with hoppy beers, it will be a giant elbow drop to your taste buds. You will make a bitter beer face and complain about the sharpness in each drink. I will laugh at you as you choke it down and quickly turn to your mass-produced swill. I will feel superior and give you a smug nod as you say, “I can’t drink this anymore – do you want it?”
Two Hearted is not a session beer or a chugging beer. It doesn’t have “drinkability” – AKA: binge-ability. It is a beer best enjoyed cold and is a great summer drink. It somehow magically makes me better at horseshoes and cornhole. If everybody drank Two Hearted, sadness as we know it would cease to exist.
Now, all we have to do is get Bell’s to bring Two Hearted back to Chicago…
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