I remember my first beer. My cousin and I were at a family function and he asked if I wanted to go outside. We’d often go for walks and bullshit so I figured that’s what we’d do. Instead, we very quietly went around back and raided the beer chest. My first beer was a Sam Adams Boston Lager. We sat around and talked and I remember it being a very important part of my growing up.
From then on, I always loved beer. Dark, light, hoppy, whatever, I’ll try it (anything besides Belgian Wheats, they make me sleep for whatever reason).
When I moved, I was amazed that beer, wine, and liquor were available in the grocery store. Growing up in New Jersey, I had only heard of these mythical places. Across the border in Pennsylvania, you have to go to a distributor. It really is an archaic thought process, but that is neither here nor there. At least in New Jersey, the beer stores were like giant adult candy stores but with booze. My favorite NJ store, Bottle King, was exactly like you would expect: a giant warehouse dedicated to partying.
The great thing about grocery store booze is the same reason you go to Wally World, Target, Home Depot, etc. to get your necessary shit: you’re already there and you can knock out two birds with one stone. I can buy my food and my booze in the same place. Then, the only issue is deciding on what beer to buy.
There are many variables and none are taken lightly. Is there a good seasonal? Price? Is another beer on sale? Have I tried it yet? Is it newly available? Will it pair with what I’m making for dinner? What did Untappd have to say? All of these thoughts race through my mind and to make matters worse, my grocery store of choice implemented a build-your-own six pack, which has been a complete game changer.
My time in the beer cave can last anywhere from 10 minutes to a half hour. There are times where I’m cruising in Kroger, thinking about my beer choices, and I second guess myself and have to go back to the beer aisle which drives Mrs. Madoff insane. Our grocery trips already last well over an hour, but you know what? I don’t care.
Unfortunately where I live, the beer distribution, for lack of better words, is shit. Recently we’ve gotten a lot of big names to now distribute but when I’m feeling a Dogfish Head or Weyerbacher (beers that come from a state very close by) I take a trip to the distributor. Here you can only buy in cases so my trips take even longer because cases are both more expensive and a commitment. Who knows if that porter you bought will be enjoyable for 24 of them or if that new IPA won’t lose its luster?
Part of the reason your B-double-E-double-R-U-N takes so long is that variety is the spice of life. We’re probably at critical mass with the amount of different beers and breweries. It used to be just ole’ Sam Adams as the only real “craft” beer in the game. Now we have breweries making beer out of sriracha, bacon, and donuts and who knows what other oddities.
Choosing what to drink is no easy task and it isn’t one that can be forced. Sure, you may have a party beer (I still go with Keystone) or an easy drinker like Yuengling that’s your go-to, but changing it up is a wonderful thing. Beer runs are a magical time not just for you but for everyone. A buddy and I used to buy a new beer every time we went to Bottle King. I used to be sad at how much money I was spending. He told me to shut up because, “It makes you happy and you’re a working man and an American taxpayer.” True words, man. .