Twelve Beers a Day – Really?

Twelve Beers a Day – Really?

by Donovan Wheeler, guest writer for Indiana On Tap

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Indiana On Tap.

Anything that’s bound to happen always does. And this was bound to happen. Two months ago, I stood before my first-period English class. Shortly after that 7:50 bell announced that the grind was officially underway, a room full of high school seniors sat before me, most of them were more than ready to get on with their lives. Some were off for the military. Several had all but finished their training for careers as first-responders. A few were going to college. The majority, however, were willing to find any clock they could, shove their punch cards into them, and make some dough.

“Hey, Wheeler,” Alexandra said to me. “I mentioned you to my boss last night.”

“Oh yeah…?” I replied. I had a bad feeling about this conversation.

“Yeah,” she said. “When I brought up your name he said, ‘That guy drinks something like 12 beers a day…’”

Twelve beers a day. I stewed for a good 15 seconds, told her she was grotesquely misinformed, and then went about my day. I figured that, given enough time, I would forget about it. Time has passed, however. I haven’t forgotten a damn word of it.

For the record, I don’t recall a time where I actually knocked down a dozen beers in a day. The last time I had a lot of them was June 16, 2018…my 49th birthday. The actual total that day was maybe 7 or 8, and for the record: I savored every goddamn one of them. It was a crazy day. We sat by the pool until well past sunset, all of my best friends came by to celebrate, and the great many of us who spent the night at my house were all in the mood to tear into a bender. It was summer. It was my birthday.

image credit: Donovan Wheeler

One of the coolest side-effects of the craft beer movement was its almost built-in immunity from the scowling judgment of all those folks who love to judge beer-drinkers. After all, a gal who gets a little tipsy on a handful of Sunlight Cream Ales walks with a little more panache in her step than the wiry 60-year-old who got himself soused on Miller Lite. By its implied definition craft beer meant refinement. A craft beer drinker wasn’t looking to get wasted fast. A craft beer drinker didn’t even mind if the beer wasn’t ice cold because (as all good craft drinkers know) a slightly warmer beer explodes with flavor over a frozen brew.

Eventually however, craft beer became less of a niche experience. As brands such as Upland and Three Floyds transitioned to the mainstream, an Alpha King and a Bud Light eventually meant the same thing to some segments of society–especially to all those cross-wielding, bootstrap-pulling, supposedly hard-working protestants who view all forms of vice as sinful abominations (Donald Trump excepted…for reasons I still don’t understand).

Besides those old-world purity-testers on the far, far right, several new-breed purity-testers of the far, far left have joined in on the beer-bashing as well. Already, my Facebook newsfeed has thrown links to pieces decrying the socialization and growing acceptance of alcohol…making sure to remind me—just like every public-school health teacher I ever had—that alcohol is, in fact, a drug.

I suppose there’s a correlation between the political temperature of the nation and the rise of craft beer. In retrospect—and I get that what I’m suggesting is circumstantial—it makes sense that the rise of craft in the mid ‘90’s fizzled after a few years. Just as places competing with Broad Ripple Brewpub and Bloomington Brewing Company got rolling, The Book of Virtues, Monica Lewinsky, and “Born-Again George” mushroomed in our collective consciousness. It seems logical that the only breweries which survived were those nestled in liberal enclaves. In that respect, it also makes sense that craft’s resurgence 15-20 years later would happen in a period when the religious right lost its steam and eventually reduced itself to an odd cult holding service in gilded echo chambers.

Now, small communities that used to sport more churches than residential homes, hold Pride Festivals and beg—literally beg—brew masters to set up shop on their courthouse squares.

image credit: Donovan Wheeler

Condemnation, however, never really goes away. Those of us madly in love with craft have been able to savor the last decade (pun intended) among like-minded folks. We have all probably been forgiven our indulgences at times, too, because…again…we’ve been the “dignified” block of beer drinkers. Hell, we’ve been begrudgingly admired because something about our culture evoked a coolness which everyone else couldn’t weasel out of their Silver Bullets and “Less Fillings.”

But that awkward confrontation still haunts me, and now I know for sure what I have always assumed…always suspected: Judgement is out there.

Sometimes I can be couched enough to walk sheepishly when I’m carrying that pint in my hand. Most of the time however, this sort of thing stirs up an itch of defiance. If there’s one thing my late grandfather (a Miller-Lite guy who probably would have been one hell of an IPA man had he been born 60 years later) taught me, it was that just about everybody could go to hell. So, I’m going to stand in that brew fest line with my back a little straighter, my shoulders a little more squared, my hands in fists tucked along the sides of my belt.

If you want to hold your Bible in one hand, point your finger at me with the other, and judge me… go ahead. I won’t say a thing in retort while the shitty health care system you repeatedly voted for slowly kills you faster than my American Pale kills me. And if you’re on my other side, holding that Journal of Medicine report as you dress me down, I’ll keep mum in that case too. Not even to point out that your chronic pot habit is going turn your lungs into an English chimney while my seasoned liver pole-vaults over it.

Twelve beers a day… gimme a break. The answer, by the way, is between 0-3 on the average day. Not that it’s anyone’s business. And if someone does think it is, well…my late grandfather had just the response to that nonsense.

banner image credit: Beverage Dynamics

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