Beer is the world’s most popular alcoholic beverage and nearly the oldest, second only to Mead. It dates back to the early Neolithic Era, around 9500 BC. Everyone from the ancient Greeks to the ancient Romans, and even King Charlemagne (namesake of the great Corton-Charlemagne vineyard in Burgundy) sipped some form of the cereal-based brew once consumed for hydration, because potable water didn’t exist. Beer is inextricably linked to civilization.
Despite this impressive liquid lineage, I have had a hard time embracing beer with the same level of enthusiasm with which I embrace wine. Unlike many people, I haven’t had an adulthood-long love affair with the brew. Beer will never hold the allure or transportive powers as, say, a bottle of La Tâche, and it’s hard to find one as delightfully refreshing as a simple glass of Muscadet.
Beer’s most ubiquitous representative in America is lager. While millions of people love it, I’ve tried it in various incarnations — highbrow and low. For me, the smell of lager is permanently intertwined with beer pong and college dorm room, with characterless swill and with a one-dimetional yeastiness. Lager, for me, is the Wonder Bread of beer.