People sometimes ask if I’ve always been into craft beer, even when I first started drinking beer in university, circa 2001. The simple answer to that question is not at all. Back then, I strictly drank what was cheap and plentiful. Growing up in the Maritimes, I drank a lot of Alpine, Moosehead, and Keith’s. They were cheap, readily available, and most importantly, they got me drunk, which at 20 years old, was the obvious goal.
So what changed? I found my gateway beer! The brew that made me realize that there was more to beer then what the big companies were offering. Unsurprisingly, it happened by accident!
A friend and I got into the habit of popping into our local brewpub, The Pumphouse, to watch the hockey game, eat some delicious food, and drink pitchers of beer. Although they had a variety of brews to choose from, we always chose what we considered to be their “safest” beer – the one we felt was the closest to what we were used to.
One night, we sat down and ordered our usual pitcher of beer along with a couple of appetizers. A few minutes later, the waitress returned to our table with a sheepish look and a pitcher of dark brown liquid we didn’t recognize. She explained that she had accidently punched in the wrong beer. Instead of our usual she had brought us Pumphouse’s Special Old Bitter and that if we took it she would give it to us at 50% off. While we were hesitant about the beer, this was a bargain! So we accepted the offer.
We were suspicious since this was a dark beer and, after all, dark beer is what old men drank in the movies. However, at this point we had the beer, so we decided to give it a try… and it was delicious! I still remember how it tasted – sweeter then I would have expected with a kick of bitterness. It was surprisingly light and refreshing and went really well with the spicy fried pepperoni I was eating. I liked it so much that I ordered another pint of it after we finished the pitcher.
This started the ball rolling for me. Although I would still slam back my macros on weekends, during the week I eventually started venturing off the beaten path and became acquainted with Picaroons, Propeller, and Garrison, some other really great east coast breweries. I started expanding my horizons in regards to beer, and I haven’t stopped since.
Even today, with the craft beer industry booming, I still have a soft spot for that gateway beer I accidently received.
What was your Gateway Beer? Let’s keep the conversation alive. Tweet me @mvp1331