Around 10 years ago, give or take, I unwittingly stumbled upon my first craft beer. This was most likely at a little place in Colleyville, which has a reputation that precedes it, that we have all (most likely) visited at some point. If memory serves, the beer in question was New Belgium Fat Tire. At the time, I had been wallowing in the lower end of the AB/Miller-Coors gene-pool, considering myself “Hip”, or “Snazzy”, or whatever it is the kids say these days. I actually LOVED Heineken. (This is the part where the present-day Me, if time-travel were available, would go back in time and throttle the bejesus out of the past Me. But I digress.) I took that first six-pack home, popped the cap off of the bottle, and took a sip. Then another. 2 hours later, the beer was gone, and I was in a complete state of disbelief, and somewhat intoxicated, to boot. Shockingly, the heavens did not open up, nor did a choir of angels sing, but a profound kick in the proverbial “Old grey matter” DID.
Up until that point, I had no idea that beer of that quality, or caliber, even existed. It completely changed the game. Needless to say, my girlfriend at the time was not as overcome with enthusiasm as I was for my newest object of obsession. That’s okay, my wife is cooler than her anyhow. Fat Tire was a revelation for me, simply because beer, in my opinion, was fizzy yellow stuff that happened to get you buzzed and make you pee a lot.
HERE! Here was a beer with flavors I’d never imagined. Malty goodness all over the place and notes of biscuity wonder, supported by prickly herbal hop-notes that showed me that this was a beer made for folks who give two rips about flavor, and not just alcohol content. It also showed me that there were a whole slew of these little “Craft Breweries” popping up all over America, and the world as well. Businesses owned by people, just like you and me, who made flavorful, inventive beers, because it was what they loved to do. (AND they got paid for it!) Oscar Wilde has been quoted saying “Work is the curse of the drinking classes”. Makes me wonder if he’d sing a different tune if he’d been a brewer himself.
Fast-forward to today. My palate has continued to evolve, so much so that I drink a different style of beer almost every time I have one, and rarely the same beer from the same brewery twice in a day. There are more craft Breweries in America than ever before. Some churning out some amazing, over-the-top beers, and some squeaking by, by the skin of their teeth. This is a great day and age to be alive for us craft beer nerds!!! (REJOICE! And lift a pint, while you’re at it.) That being said, here’s to the fine folks at New Belgium brewing, for opening my proverbial eyes/tastebuds, and ushering my palate into a new era of beer greatness. My question to YOU, dear reader, is this : “What was the first beer that melted your brain, and brought you into the craft-beer fold”?
Matt The Beer-Guy