It’s where I first became a snob. When in my reckless youth, I was known to choose drink over important things, such as college, responsibility and credit ratings. But the choices for beer that I had around me were abominable. Quickly I developed a palate for lager. When my friends were drinking Budweiser, I was drinking Heineken…when my friends moved on to Heineken, I moved on to Moosehead. I didn’t consciously do this… I was simply looking for a beer that tasted better than the last one.

Although you probably won’t get me to admit this in person, I owe a fair amount of my palate to beer. I wanted something better, I looked for a beer that tasted as good as it promised. I refused to take beer for granted.

Unfortunately, we Americans have taken beer for granted. Back in the mid seventies, there were only 40 breweries left in the United States. And they mostly brewed the same type of beer – pilsner lager. For those of you not in the know, pilsner lager is essentially the one type of beer that’s known for not having any unique characteristics. One bottle is usually the same as the other. In our American desire for conformity, we conformed diversity right out of the marketplace. The number one beer in the mid seventies? Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Oh the horror.

Luckily we, as Americans, have evolved from that horrid part of our history. Microbreweries were founded and flourished. The marketplace demanded choice, and innovaters and importers were more than happy to respond in kind.

Now we have Ales, with their bitters, pale ales, porters, stouts, barley wines, trappist, lambic, and alt. We have lagers, with their bocks, doppelbocks, Munich- and Vienna-style, Märzen/Oktoberfest, and the famous pilsners. We have Wheat beers, Dry beers, and Ice Beers. In short…we have variety. Which is what we should have had 30 years ago.

Truth be told, I’ve been looking forward to researching and reporting on beer. I stopped taking beer seriously about the same time I decided to take my life seriously. I’ve longed for the reclamation of my youth, and perhaps beer can be the elixer. Expect more on beer in the coming days and weeks, including recipes, taste tests and excursions to some of the plethora of microbreweries that are in the Puget Sound area.