We all have a stories that define our lives, whether it be our first job, how we decided our major for college, when we knew to “pop the question”, or what our first thoughts were when our children were born. Let me be clear – this isn’t any of that. But I do feel that my story on how I came to drink my first craft beer is a valid one considering how I think myself a beer blogger who knows a thing or two about the industry at large and the people in the community.
I’m going to rewind a bit, back to 2011, in my Fall semester at St. Joe’s. Keep in mind I am not disclosing my age at the time on the Internet. Up until that point, I had mainly been crushing big beer such as: Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Lite, Keystone Light, Natty Light, and Natty Ice. All were disgusting to my palette. I always fancied myself into a nicer beers when I could. I may have had a Heineken from Dad or something, but knew I hated the $15 30-pack type beers. I’m a member of a fraternity at my college in 2011. One big tradition of Greek Life at most colleges is getting a “little”. The Big/Little relationship is mainly driven by sororities, where they spend an absurd amount of money making their Little happy. With Fraternity guys? We just say “Yo, want a beer?”, talk about sports, debate some stuff about sports and video games, play some video games, and you become buds. My Little is the man. I got him that Fall semester. Another tradition of the Big/Little relationship, at least on the male side of Greek Life, is the family drinks.
Truthfully, my Little knew more about beer than I did at the time, had experience more eclectic beers, and all of that. And he was younger than I. We decided to name I believe it was Mango Parrot Bay as our family liquor, which is like a 20-proof liquor that was a good party liquor for the ladies. And we didn’t care, it was delicious. We decided to also include a family beer. Most other families in my fraternity didn’t have one, or just kept it simple: Corona, Heineken, Stella Artois, Budweiser, Yeungling, Samuel Adams Boston Lager. You get the deal. My Little proposed we make our family drink Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. At this time, without any knowledge, craft was only ~2000 breweries (Source). Much smaller scale than today. I knew such nicer beers existed, but my knowledge of the breweries, the beers, etc. was about zero. We got a 6-pack of it for a celebration one night. I tried it and I thought, “Wow this is so much stronger than the other beers I have had in my life. Wow, this has some plant taste to it” (read: that was 2011 Bill talking hops).
I crushed one. Then another. Then another. 3 a piece. I remember making a mental note that I was not a huge fan, that I would only drink this with my Little, and that I swore off anything that wasn’t a “known” beer to me. Obviously, that all changed. So special thanks times a million to my Little for forcing our family drink to be craft and starting me on the path of this journey!
This is a 3-part series of TBT’s to take place over the next few weeks. Stay tuned!