SOMETIMES IT’S HARD TO BE AN ALEHEAD

OK, let’s get the obvious part out of the way. Being an Alehead is incredible.  It’s the best thing ever. Aleheads get to bore unwary patrons of the tap rooms and bottle shops we frequent with extended dissertations on the positives and negatives of various beer styles (while often hoping desperately that the bore-ee doesn’t realize that we probably don’t actually know what we’re talking about).  We get to spend inappropriate and irresponsible portions of their salaries on beer.  Once in a while we may get to visit a favorite brewery, or even chat with a brew master (which, in the land of the Aleheads, is essentially like having a one-on-one conversation with god herself).  Finding a group of fellow Aleheads to tool around with makes the experience all that much better, because we can nerd out over email with a bunch of people who actually want to talk about the same shit we do.  Though obviously we only read their emails so we can reply with something better/funnier/more clever/more impressive (one-upsmanship is a major Alehead characteristic).  But, faithful readers, I come to you today with a cautionary message.  It is right to aspire to be an Alehead (or even an alehead).  It will enrich your life in myriad ways.  However I believe it is time to disabuse you of the notion that being an Alehead is all sunshine and pumpkin pie.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, being an Alehead sometimes requires great sacrifices.  And sometimes, just sometimes, it completely sucks.

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Reason 1: The Hangover

If you read this blog, you’ve had a hangover.  We rarely discuss such things around here, as we assume that you’re already familiar with them, and moreover don’t necessarily come here to hear us talk about unpleasant beer-related things.  But just for today, we’re going to make an exception and just square up and face the ugly facts.  If you’re like me,  you’ve almost certainly encountered multiple versions of the hangover.  There’s the, “I’m just moving a little slower this morning” version, the “Thank god it’s Saturday so I can throw up in my own bathroom in peace” version, and the always popular, “Still?  Two freaking days?  Really?  Come on!” version.  My favorite is something I fondly refer to as, “The God-Hangover” (message me privately if you’d like to hear about it [you don’t]).  But that’s very rarely caused by beer consumption alone.  Regardless, sometimes when you’re out at a great tap house that has just SO MANY incredible beers on tap that you absolutely have to sample, it’s possible to slightly over-imbibe (nota bene: never end the evening with a barleywine).  However, to paraphrase Magnus, hangovers are just weakness leaving the body.  And really, it’s only fair to have to pay some kind of price for having access to such ambrosia-esque beverages.  So we Aleheads generally don’t complain TOO much.

Reason 2: Other Aleheads

Aleheads absolutely love to be the most knowledgeable beer guy in the room.  Thing is, most of us don’t have post-doctoral degrees in microbiology or organic chemistry (though I think the Professor may actually have more letters following his name than in it at this point).  It is incredibly annoying when you’re somewhere holding forth on why this brewery is better than that brewery, or why that brewery’s Russian Imperial Stout is better than that other brewery’s, and suddenly some jackass (essentially meaning any alehead I don’t know) wanders in to the conversation and starts talking about the difference in the water chemistry between the breweries, and how that specific local water combined with a two-degree-colder fermentation temperature and the use of Pasilla Negra chilies from the Yucatan peninsula rather than New Mexico explains the exact difference in the in the flavor, mouth feel and ester aromas between the two beers.  Aleheads hate this for two reasons: we just got schooled by a nerdier beer nerd, and we just realized what we sounded like ten seconds prior to the other people we were talking to.

Reason 3: Ciderheads/Meadheads

Because they’re both fermented beverages and are frequently packaged (bottled, kegged, etc.)  in a fashion similar to beer, craft cider and mead can often be found in the same bars and bottle shops that have good craft beer selections.  Naturally this availability tends to attract the fans of such beverages, and so it’s not terribly unusual to find yourself bellied up to the bar next to someone who’s just as passionate about their particular fermented beverage of choice as you are about beer.  And honestly, in a weird way I do feel sort of a distant kinship to such types.  It’s not necessarily entirely their fault that something went a bit haywire in the evolution of their drinking preferences.*  They came so close to making it into Alehead territory that it in some ways feels even more tragic that they missed the mark by such a small margin. That said, I don’t give a crap about what kind of apples your favorite cider maker (cider brewer?) used, or why it has such a nice raspberry tang (spoiler alert: it’s from raspberries).  And mead guy, in general I try very hard not to think about the fact that honey is bee spit, so I’d really prefer if you stopped talking to me and just went and sat quietly over there.  No, not there.  Farther over.  OK, thanks.

*Beerford’s evolution: Hot Buttered Rum – Zima – Bacardi Limon – Boones – Mad Dog – Bud Light – Gin – Honey Brown – Guinness – Scotch/Bourbon/Craft Beer

Reason 4: Oenophiles

Did you know it’s illegal to kill oenophiles in the United States?  In fact, it’s not even technically a crime to BE an oenophile (except in Texas)!  That’s some messed up shit.

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Reason 5: You Can Never Drink All the Beers

This is honestly the worst thing about being an Alehead.  Once you start caring enough about beer to start looking out for new exciting brews that your friends (or some random blogger) has recommended, you are going to hear about amazing beers that you will never be able to drink.  For example, the incredibly highly rated North Coast Oak Aged Old Rasputin X was brewed once, and the chance that I’ll ever get my hands on one of the few bottles that remain locked up in some guy’s cellar is essentially zero.  Add to that the fact that tons of craft breweries make one-off experimental beers that go on tap for a few days at their brewpub and are never seen again, which means that there are many amazing beers in the world RIGHT NOW that I’ll never even HEAR about!  I mean, of course, the internet is a powerful beer-finding tool.  But to date it can’t yet scan the earth for the perfect beer for me to drink at a given moment, or even just that elusive beer that I’ve been desperately wanting to sample, and then beam the beer into my hand (patent pending).  So we are all essentially screwed.  I worry about this so much that I literally had a nightmare involving dropping my only bottle of Westvleteren 12 before I got to taste it (I don’t have a bottle of this beer at all, and probably never will).  And what if they come out with some new incredibly interesting beer style after I die?  I’ll never know about that either!  Come on science, I really need you to hurry up with that cloning-myself-for-replacement-organs-so-I-can-live-forever thing!  Seriously, there are incredible beers out there that I can’t have.  Ever.  And it pisses me off.

Damnit.

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16 comments

  1. I can’t in good conscience pile on the cider and mead hate bandwagon… there’s a new craft meadery (is that a thing?) opening here soon and I’ll definitely be giving it a try. Plus HopSlam is brewed with honey, so I don’t care if it’s bee spit or whatever. I’ve drank worse.

  2. Yeah, you could tell I was pretty wishy-washy on that one. I of course do consider myself superior to meadsters (meadiators?) and ciderists (cidlers?). But I actually don’t resent them all that much. It’s more that I somehow feel in an absolutely knee-jerk, from-my-gut, utterly arbitrary sort of fashion that cider is somehow not as hard-core as beer, and that mead drinkers like to say tankard and probably LARP all the time.

  3. “It’s not terribly unusual to find yourself bellied up to the bar next to someone who’s just as passionate about their particular fermented beverage of choice as you are about beer.”

    Let me be the first to point that it is in fact extraordinarily unusual to sit next to someone in a bar who is passionate about cider of mead. I have sat in many bars, in many cities, in many states, over the course of many years and I have NEVER met anyone who cared even a little bit about cider or mead. I don’t know what kind of alehouses you’re drinking in Beerford, but you need to find a new place to drink.

    And considering there are precious few high-end cider houses and meaderies in the country (though admittedly they’re starting to gain some traction by riding on craft beer’s coattails), I can’t imagine a conversation between two so-called Meadheads or Ciderheads lasting more than 30 seconds.

  4. Oenophiles, on the other hand, are legion. Yet I actually appreciate them since they make Aleheads look tolerable in comparison.

  5. Beer-miester · · Reply

    It is hard to be an alehead; especially when said head is subjected to a nasty de-toxing regiment of juicing by the aleheads spouse due to the fear that the bread winners liver might collapse at any time. I can almost taste the crafty prize on the other side of the 10 day sludge fest. Yes, my brothers and sisters, it is hard…..BUT WORTH IT!

  6. Wait, Beer-miester- you’re on a ten day juice fast right now?

  7. A beer fast would have been better.

  8. BeerBanker · · Reply

    I’m more curious/concerned about Beerford’s and the other Aleheads “evolution”. Mine own would be Canadian Club-based Egg Nog, Andre’s Cold Duck, Boone’s Farm Apple, Taylor Sauterne, Jack Daniel’s, Stroh’s, Michelob, Guinness, Wine from the Cheap Jug region of France and with Terrapin Rye as my entry into craft brewing and Glenlivet 18 as my entry into single malts. The first 4 were courtesy of my parents whilst growing up. Other than missing some damn fine Egg Nog, I’m grateful that they’ve stopped drinking.

  9. Impressive recall, BeerBanker. My own evolution has wreaked havoc on my memory. I remember drinking an Otter Creek Stovepipe Porter in the early 90s, thinking “oh, this is what beer should taste like”, and the rest is kind of hazy. There was also some whiskey, scotch, vodka and gin mixed in there somewhere. Oh and bourbon…lots and lots of bourbon.

  10. Oregonians definitely have a sub-culture whose entire existence is based on rejecting anything that’s big enough for normal people to know about. Thus, craft beer being such a huge deal out here, craft cider has caught on in a fairly big way almost as a reaction. Here’s the members of the Northwest Cider Association: http://www.nwcider.com/member-cideries/ and here is the recent Portland Cider Summit http://www.cidersummitnw.com/ (Seattle’s is in September).

    Hell, there’s a company in Salem, OR (Wandering Aengus) that’s making crabapple cider, I guess because regular apples were just too mainstream.

    I’ve only ever run into one meadfreak, and it was actually at the Sunset Grill in Boston. He was basically the comic shop guy from the Simpsons.

    The Stovepipe Porter was my first of that style. I remember Barley explaining to me why it was called a porter.

  11. BeerBanker · · Reply

    Barley, I admit there were occasional trysts with vodka and rum in my college daze but those were the main players. I’ve only recently (last year or two) started to enjoy good bourbon as well…I met up with Terrapin at one of the first beer fests here in Atlanta ever, late 2002 I guess. My wife would describe my falling asleep on my front lawn after returning home as having more than just “met” with Terrapin, but hey, who’s judging here, right ? She likes cider.

    I think a future column on the progression of the AleHeads might be an interesting topic…

  12. beer-miester · · Reply

    Juicing update! Yes, six days down and I must say that I have felt way better with a nice Sierra Nevada Torpedo gentle cradled in my hand then I do de-toxed. But, to prove a point that the DT’s do not haunt this alehead, I have picked up the gauntlet and will be victorious.

    Remind the less knowledgeable of: It’s the quality….not the quantity!

    Stay hard and drink easy my friends.

  13. I’ve done a few juice fasts beer-meister, though I usually cheat a bit and include coffee and the occasional beer as well. Day three was always the hardest for me. After that you just kind of get into the routine of it. Keep up the good work!

  14. beer-miester · · Reply

    Thanks… Beerford.. I am on it. I have lost 11 lbs in 8 days… guess where? BEER GUT! ha, ha,,,….

    beer-miester quote of the day: Of all the things that I have lost in my life, of juicing, I miss my beer the most.

  15. Yea #5 really sucks!

  16. red flanders · · Reply

    “I’ve only ever run into one meadfreak, and it was actually at the Sunset Grill in Boston. He was basically the comic shop guy from the Simpsons.”

    i wonder if flip (a noted birmingham beer drinker who is comic book guy in the flesh) has ever been to boston? i think he loves mead as much as he loves beer.

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