Beer and My Better Half

Hello, everyone. I hope those of you who are celebrating Thanksgiving today are having a great one. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, largely because the point is to be joyous and grateful. To remember what we have in life. Thus, when I got this guest post today from Jeremy over at Subbeerbia about meeting his wife, I realized it was the perfect story for today. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Considering the circumstances of the household where I grew up, the fact that beer, homebrewing, and the industry surrounding them have become such an important part of my life is quite astounding. I won’t get into the details here since I plan to discuss this topic at length elsewhere, but I was raised by a father who abhorred alcohol in any form. I never once saw my father drink a single drop of alcohol, let alone exhibit any sign of inebriation. Even though I never knew the full reasoning behind his stance, I followed in his footsteps through most of high school, which was quite a feat in my neck of the woods at the time. Eventually, the need to fit in and the promise of less social anxiety broke down my straight-edge mentality, even though I still respected my father’s beliefs immensely. Looking back now, his hostility toward commercial beer, although he had no idea there was any other kind, and the marketing behind it had a particularly strong influence on me.

I graduated from commercial beer and mixed drinks right at the age of 21, having the luck of making the acquaintance of someone who was starting up a brewery in our small college town. He quickly educated my friends and I on beer styles, ingredients, the brewing process, and why we should think twice about the beverages we were consuming. Thunderhead Brewing quickly became my “Cheers.” It was the one establishment in town that I could walk into any day of the week and know somebody, whether it was the bartender, server, or another customer. I could walk there from my apartment (and did so….often). It became the Thursday night meeting place for my friends and mentors in academia. We would sit for hours discussing the Transcendentalists and the Russian Revolution and Reaganomics and potential thesis topics. We debated the importance of words and semantics and the Oxford Comma. We sounded just as absurd and snobby as you can imagine. Then we’d walk upstairs, strap on instruments and play 90’s rock covers and silly drinking songs we wrote for our friends to dance to. Just as my father feared, I would sometimes overindulge and swear and become obnoxious, make mistakes and regret them the next morning. But they were MY mistakes, and MY friends, and MY memories…none of which would’ve been possible without hand-crafted beer in the picture.

One of these Thursdays was the night my world changed for the better. Like most weeks, my friends and I planned to head down to the brewery for a few pints and some music. “We’re bringing our new roommate,” my friend told me. “Wait ’til you meet her,” he added with what I swear was an audible wink over the phone. A new girl had rented one of the five rooms in my friends’ house and I hadn’t met her yet. So I walked over to their place, jumped in the back seat of that week’s driver’s car, and was greeted by a warm smile from the most beautiful woman I’d ever met. We exchanged names and commenced the small talk.

When we arrived at the brewery, we first sat with our friends and participated in their banter, but quickly realized we had our own conversation going on. We moved to a small, two-person table next to them and didn’t stop talking for the rest of the night. We were both going through rough patches after getting married much too young and were on the verge of finalizing our divorces. We had both decided love was a farce, something other, much dumber people believed in. Marriage? Don’t get us started. The biggest mirage of all. A fairy tale that may have worked for our grandparents’ and parents’ generations, but made no sense for ours. Clearly, since our first marriages didn’t work out it meant we should never even suffer the thought of wedding cake again. Count us out, we’d had enough.

Over the course of the next few months, we got to know each other more and more. And while we resisted falling in love with all our might, it was inevitable. Sure, it was a struggle at first while we each dealt with being single again, but we ended up finding our way back to each other over and over. And now, eight years later, we’re that perfect cliché of the puzzle pieces that only fit one another. She laughs at my lame jokes, lets me know when I’m taking things too seriously, punches me (hard) when I deserved it, and most of all, makes me smile as easily as she breathes. And I…well, I’m not entirely sure what it is that I do for her.

But one of the most interesting parts of our story together is how our love of beer has grow in tandem with our love for each other. Brewery tours are mainstays of every vacation we take. We open bottles together to cook with (and sample on the side, of course) and always try each other’s beer of choice to see how we react to a new flavor or aroma. She continues to be patient with me as I spend hours brewing or attending events across the city and suburbs. When she attends events with me, I get the distinct feeling my “beer friends” didn’t think she was real to begin with, let alone that she gave me the time of day. And when I start to get down on myself for not having as much time to write as I would like or not getting the photos I wanted, she’s always there to grab me before I fall off the cliff of self-doubt.

None of this would’ve happened without beer and our local brewery. And although my father may have initially been disappointed in some of my choices along the way, I think he would not only understand but be thankful in the end.