A friend asked recently when I had converted from a wine snob to a beer geek. My tweets about my parallel universe as a “beerophile” were posting to my Facebook page and she was not the first person to comment on my transformation. After pondering the question, I decided to write a little about my journey.
I started drinking wine in my mid-twenties when I moved to California. I truly enjoyed the seemingly endless options of fabulous wine available and as my taste developed so did my passion for wine. My palate evolved over the years and I found I was more prone to fine wine than basic grocery store selections. My investment in my habit grew. I loved wine and was enthralled with the complexities of appearance, the nose, the feel and the taste associated with the many types, styles and brands. Wine and of course, the food that compliments it, was a huge part of my social life as the years passed. I loved sharing my wine finds with good friends over dinner at both my home and restaurants. I shudder at the thought of the money I have spent over the years…
While I had always enjoyed beer, I honestly never thought much about what I was drinking. I preferred to drink micro-brewed beer, but was not really conscious of the decisions I made. I just knew that I didn’t care for Coors, Bud or any other watery beer on the market. There was no real passion in my beer selections and I rarely took the time to think about the ingredients going into the beer, much less the business and political implications of my choices. Never had I pondered which beers would best pair with an artisan cheese platter I had assembled for a cocktail party nor had I contemplated a social dinner offering different beer choices with the course I would prepare.
That is until I moved to San Diego in 2003… I had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with a young man who founded a craft brewing business in San Diego. A neighbor in my building, GK brought his own beer selections to a party at my loft and even brought his own glassware. I was in no way, shape or form offended by his apparent beer snobbery. On the contrary, I was intrigued by his passion. I recognized there was a lot I could learn from this incredible entrepreneur. Many of my new neighbors in Park Loft were also craft beer fans. With Greg as a generous anchor, there was never a social event in the building (and boy did we have a lot of them!) that didn’t include several of the many choices of beer brewed by Stone. There were many group outings to local craft beer mecca’s like O’Brien’s, The Local, Hamilton’s, and The Whistle Stop. This was the beginning of my craft beer education.