By Eric Sturniolo
Evolution states that over generations, entire species, individual organisms, and tiny molecules all change. Beervolution happens much more quickly, and is much more important. This is my story.
When I was about 16, my dad let me have my first beer, Becks. It was disgusting. But most adults seemed to like beer, so I tried to keep an open mind, and figured I’d eventually learn to love it. I proudly displayed the empty bottle on a shelf in my bedroom.
Throughout high school and college I followed the natural progression into the BMC Era (Budweiser, Miller, Coors). This is filled with Bud Light, Natty Ice, Red Dog, Busch Light, Miler Lite, Coors Light… if it had Lite, Light or Ice in it, I wanted it. If it was cheap, revolting, came in 24 packs of cans, and was sold at the gas station, I wanted it. The more it tasted like water (bad water), the better.
After college, came the Not As Gross Stage, as I stopped being poor and going to college bars. “Lite” and “Ice” were replaced by Sam Adams Boston Lager/Summer Ale, Blue Moon, and Yuengling. I know what you’re thinking…gross! And you’re right. But what’s important is not AS gross. What’s important is I’m making progress.
The next level of beer starts to get craft-y. Picasso had his Blue Period, and I had my Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Period. It was a big step in my maturity, even more so than my Bar Mitzvah (yes, the one that took place at a venue called “Hip Hop Studios”). I was in this phase for a while, feeling cool with my beer like Harpoon, Brooklyn Lager, and Abita.
This next moment is all about family. My ancestors taught their descendants important things, who then taught my grandfather, who then taught my father. My father then passed down these important things to me. And I’ll pass those on to my son if I can ever convince a woman to have kids with me. Similarly, I have beer ancestors. My friend Andrew (also a writer on this site), is my beer father. He taught me everything I know…from Citra hops to sour beers to stouts made with glazed donuts. And he was taught by his beer father (my beer grandfather), our friend Mike. With this knowledge I reached the next, highest level of craft, the Westvleteren Apex.
When you reach this level, you’ll go anywhere in the city for a specific beer. You’ll stand outside a beer store for an hour in the winter to buy a new release. You’ll visit Portland, OR but be more interested in the breweries than your friends.
But it’s not all sunshine, roses, Heady Topper and Pliny the Elder. There are drawbacks. Going to a baseball game? I’d rather have water than Bud Light. You want me to go a ‘regular’ bar where the options are Guinness, Stella, and Shock Top? No, thank you. I actually bring my own craft beer when hanging out with someone I know will serve something below me like Heineken. Sounds snobby, right? It is. Everyone in the Apex is a beer snob.
I think it’s important to embrace this snobbery, as I’ve found it actually leads to happiness. When choosing a bar or restaurant, I research their beer menu first. This ensures a good time for all (especially me). After six years I finally cleaned out one of my closets! Why? To store my 65+ bottles of craft beer that I’m aging. Beer has been a great starter topic when meeting strangers, and has turned those strangers into good friends. I’ve met so many cool people at bars, events, and beer stores. I’ve had some of the rarest, best beers in the world, shared with my best friends. But I know one day I’ll go back to what got me started…Becks. Just kidding, Becks is gross. I’ve evolved.