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I don’t live in a big city. My place of residence is a major metropolis, but its population is dwarfed by the likes of Chicago, New York, and LA. While dating in my city is its own personal Hell, I’ve always imagined courtship in those major cities to be an absolute nightmare. I’m sure you’re probably thinking, “But there are so many people… you’ve got so many options to choose from… it can’t be that hard to meet someone!” Well, that’s the problem. You’re emulsified in a sea of humanity. You swipe right, meet up for a forgettable 1-3 dates, hook up until someone gets ghosted, and then your search continues as you wonder what else is out there. And there’s plenty out there.
Craft beer is slowly tapping itself into this situation. Frankly, the volume of options is getting out of hand. Last weekend I was meandering through my neighborhood grocery store, and I found myself surveying the scene in the beer aisle. I had the sudden realization that only Wade Boggs would be man enough to gulp down all of the available choices in one lifetime. From sea to shining sea, American craft brewers are pumping out a ridiculous product profile, and I can no longer keep my head above the water. While I appreciate the effort, I’m officially shutting down my pursuit of new craft beers.
Over the last few years of my post-21-year-old life, I’ve built up a little stable of favorites that I’ll go back to time and time again. I’ve got a few go-to beers that are drinkable enough for your girlfriend’s dad yet unique enough for your hipster neighbor with the geometric sleeve tattoo. At this point, you’ll be hard-pressed to find me splurging $10.99 for a sixer of some crazy grapefruit chipotle lime IPA that will inevitably work its way to the back of my fridge, only to be forgotten next to the cold pizza and Worcestershire sauce.
Ron Swanson once said, “I’m a simple man. I like pretty dark-haired women and breakfast food.” Well, Ron was onto something there. Simplicity is a beautiful thing, and I’d like my life to be a little more straightforward. The irony of the craft beer movement is that so many brewers are just putting out their own versions of the same simplified thing. Every brewery has its own IPA, Amber Ale, Stout, Lager, and some form of citrusy Belgian wheat. Different books, same story. Why should I bother with that?
If I like Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale, why should I care that Sam Adams has three versions of the Rebel IPA? If I like Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat on a hot day, why should I care that New Belgium came out with like four different citrusy wheat beers last summer? Do we really need another peach-mango Hefeweizen? At the end of the day, is that double-bock imperial porter really that much better than just a good old fashioned Guinness?
That being said, craft brewers work their asses off, no bones about it. They spend long hours perfecting their recipes, bottling the goods, painstakingly sanitizing the equipment, and getting their product on the shelf. I have the utmost respect for them and their pursuit of bringing quality to the masses. Their commitment to innovation is to be applauded, even if it borders on the extreme. The best brewers also have unique tap rooms with yard games, heavy appetizers, and eclectic clientele. The purist in me loves the that these brewers are revitalizing the classic neighborhood watering hole. It’s a refreshing reprieve from the strictly missionary drone of mediocre, cookie-cutter sports bars common across the country (I’m looking at you, Buffalo Wild Wings).
Let me be clear: I’m no beer snob. I don’t really understand IBUs, I think beer-specific glassware is stupid, and if a beer tastes good, I’ll probably drink it without thinking too hard about it. To me, beer is just a vehicle for a good time. Whether you’re tailgating your alma mater’s homecoming game, grilling out with your buds, or easing your way out of a tough work week, sometimes a beer is just a beer, and that is enough. Forget the fanfare of secret recipes, special ingredients, and limited releases. What matters is the golden goodness inside the can.
There’s no need to get your Jimmies in a rustle when it comes to deciding between pale ales and chocolate stouts in the beer aisle. In beer (and in relationships) let’s keep it simple: find yourself a favorite, stick with it, and don’t let yourself stray from the good stuff..