A Scary Thought

For BeerNexus.com

Well we just finished with one of many folks favorite holiday, Halloween. We do go a
little nuts in this country, spending more money on costumes and candy and
decorations and maybe even on a party here or there. Me, I’ve been enjoying the
Octoberfests, Marzens and other fall beers, which yes includes Pumpkin; not all that
scary but definitely enjoyable.

As a craft beer drinker what would be your scariest possible thing? For someone who
hates the bitterness of IPAs, maybe you find that’s the only beer you can get! For
someone who hates sours, what if that’s all you can get! I’m not sure but I think the
scariest thought is that this is all a dream and one day we wake up and there really is
no craft beer…that we were in an alternative universe (and that would be a really
good one because they had more craft beers than you could ever drink) and
somehow we slipped back into our pedestrian reality of fizzy lagers. Whoa, I just
needed to take a breather; I got a little heart palpitation thinking about that. I was
ready to call the Starship Enterprise and see if Captain Kirk could get me back to my
craft beer universe or Scottie could “beam me up.” I was more than willing to buy the
first round, even two just to get back…

Gets me thinking that we craft beer drinkers should have our own Halloween fright
special or movie. Just imagine we’re sitting around every Halloween and all our
favorite bars have a special showing of our very own scary show. I doubt it would
replace It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown but to even be mentioned with that
classic would be pretty amazing. Well I’ve got less than a year to get this written, get
someone to produce and distribute it so I’d better get going.

So let me lay out this rough idea for you and see how you react. I’m sure many will
have suggestions as you crazy craft beer drinkers probably have some ideas that will
crank it up a notch or add some spice I hadn’t thought of.

Here goes:
It’s 1967; Billy’s a young guy who likes to go out to his local bar, The Whistle Stop,
and have a few with his friends. They have a good time hanging out, listening to
music, playing darts and bs’ing, along with a few pitchers of golden lager. Billy starts
having headaches so goes to see his doctor who tells him he has an incurable
disease. He’s only got months to live or he could try this new procedure; Sleep-O-
Genics and in hopefully ten, at most twenty years they’ll have a cure.  (Author’s Note:
Sleep-O-Genics was the predecessor to Cryogenics. In this earlier form you didn’t
need to be legally dead, they just put you in a freezer and chilled you slowly. Things
got more interesting later that year when the first corpse was cryopreserved.)

Next day at The Whistle Stop, Billy talked about this with his friends, all of whom
needed a shot (they were all wishing there was Johnnie Walker Blue back in ’67) and
a beer after hearing the news. They are all shell shocked, not talking much, just
looking at Billy, then Jim says, “Look here’s the deal, we don’t want to lose you, so
here’s our promise. If you go through with the Sleep-O-Genics, when they wake you
up and cure you, we’ll all celebrate right here at The Whistle Stop.” Everybody’s
blown away by Jim’s logic and thought process (guess what, profound thoughts while
and after drinking how been around since the dawn of time, so nothing new here). All
of sudden this is more like a celebration of a great group of friends. Billy knows these
are the best friends he could have and tells them he’ll go ahead with the Sleep-O-
Genics. It’s a late night of drinking and frivolity.

Flash forward to 2017; yes fifty years later. There was no cure in ten or twenty years;
it took science a lot longer, along with some government red tape and bureaucracy.  
Billy goes through the Wake-O-Genics process, is given the cure and it works!
Doctors are elated, but they can’t just release him as the shock of fifty years of
progress and change will be too much for him. They give him a copy of Wikipedia
and direct him to many topics for him to catch up and begin to see there have been
many changes. He begins to understand it’s going to be different out there, but really
wants to get out.

And then one day they bring him into this room with a bunch of old people; they are
excited as hell to see him, jumping up and down (well they don’t jump as high as they
used to)and calling his name. So who are these old guys? It all becomes much
clearer when they show him a black and white picture of all of them in The Whistle
Stop…it’s his old buds; Jim, Bob, Don, Fred, Mike and Sam, and damn are they old
now, but they’re still all around and together and they never forgot their promise to
Billy. (tissue break) They did try to sneak in a beer but it got confiscated.

They have a lot of catching up to do, so Billy says “off to The Whistle Stop for that
beer you guys owe me.” They all start laughing…”well we can go to The Whistle Stop
but it won’t do much good, it’s been closed and boarded up for twenty-five years. But
have no fear we have a new place so let’s go.”

Billy is about to embark on a world that’s new to him...maybe we’ll call it The Craft
Beer Zone. Just think of the changes that took place in the last thirty years with the
craft beer revolution and how different it is; so image just being plunged into it as
opposed to living through it.

This futuristic world is pretty amazing to Billy and they arrive at the aptly named; Beer
Drinkers Paradise. Billy steps inside, stops and slowly looks around. It’s brighter than
The Whistle Stop used to be, but there’s still a bar with stools and tables around, but
a lot more bottles behind the bar than before and interestingly enough, more
women.  Fred tells him that women still like their wine and fu-fu drinks, but a lot of
them are drinking the new craft beers now. Billy thinks, Craft beer? Is that a new
brand? But hey more women in the bar is fine and clothing styles have changed; it’s
much more casual so that’s good. Not quite sure about the marks he sees on many
of them; maybe it’s some sort of body art.

They all sit at a table, the server comes over and Billy says, “A pitcher of the usual”
to which they all break out laughing. The server says, “Not sure what your usual is,
but we don’t have pitchers.” Sam begins to explain to Billy. “The big thing in the 70’s
was bringing in foreign beers as they were supposed to be a lot better than ours.
Some of them had more taste, but what we didn’t know back then was we weren’t
getting the real foreign beers as many were reformulated for our market due to ABV.”
Billy, “ABV?” Sam continues, “Oh right, alcohol by volume, basically the alcohol
percentage. It couldn’t be over a certain level to import. Then in the 80’s a bunch of
pioneer brewers started making their own beer and selling it. Instead of fizzy lagers,
they begin brewing bolder lagers and ales with some body and taste, thus the term,
craft beers. It began to catch on and more breweries opened every year and they
began to make more styles of beer every year and today there are over 5.000 craft
breweries in the US. So we don’t drink any Bud, Schlitz, Miller, Schaefer, Piels or
Ballantine anymore; in fact this bar doesn’t even carry them. Here’s a list of what’s on
tap.” Billy reviews the list and sees a bunch of silly names; Hop Devil, Green Zebra,
Breakfast Stout, Fall Festivus, Autumn Blaze, Funky Monkey, Dogfish Head Punkin,
Road to Ruin, Big Cranky, Flying Jenny, Mosaic Promise….and on and on. Billy looks
confused and says “I want a beer but I have no clue what this stuff is.” Tell you what
we’ll start you with a Sam Adams Boston Lager; it’s probably the classic crossover

They all order and Billy watches the server go behind the bar and start pulling a
bunch of these crazy looking long colored wood and plastic sticks, “what the hell are
they and why are there so many of them?” They all laugh again, “those are tap
handles, and you must be remembering those little chrome handles of fifty years ago.
Now every brewery wants to stand out so now we have lots of tall fun crazy looking
ones; definitely makes it more interesting. And now bars have lots of beer on tap, this
bar has twenty-four, but some have fifty, sixty or even one hundred.” Billy scratches
his head, one hundred beers on tap, that’s unbelievable.

The server comes over with their beers. Billy jumps out of his seat and looks at Mike;
“what’s with the small glasses, you’re getting ripped off we gotta find a new place.”
They all start laughing again. “That’s a flight, it’s a taster of four different beers so I
can try them and see which ones I like and might like to have a pint of.” This is all
new to Billy but he’s enjoying his Sam Adams and begins catching up on his buddies’
lives for the last fifty years.

Ready for round two, they order Billy a flight with a gose, pale ale, IPA and stout.
He’s amazed at the difference in color and taste of the beers. This is a whole new
world for him. Mike says, “Hope you like the IPA because half the craft beer made is
IPA, craft beer drinkers really like it, but there are always other choices if you don’t.”
Billy is really enjoying the beers but could use a snack. He looks around and “I don’t
see any pigs knuckles or anything else on the bar.” Which brings another round of
laughter. Ah yes the good old Whistle Stop; that really was a dive wasn’t it, but we
had a lot of fun there. “Yea no more pigs knuckles, but we can get some popcorn or
wings or nachos if you’re hungry.”

To Jim, Bob, Don, Fred, Mike and Sam this has been a fun re-acquaintance with Billy.
Amazing how all the changes they lived through and took for granted are so new and
strange to him. For Billy it’s been really strange as going to the bar to hang out with
his friends has taken on a whole new perspective with this craft beer.  It’s time to
head out for today, but they’ll all be back tomorrow as Billy still has a lot of catching
up to do…especially with all the craft beers he’s missed…

Whoa baby, I think I might have something here, even if it is a rough draft instead of
draft beer. I’m sure I’ll get some great ideas from my craft beer buds to smooth it out
and improve it. I can see it, Big G’s Beer Beat presents, “The Craft Beer Zone.”  I’ll
have to see if John Carpenter might be interested. Or maybe Scorsese, although he
might add a little too much blood and guts like Goodfellows…I don’t want The Whistle
Stop all shot up. Then again he did produce Shutter Island, so he can go in that
direction. Better yet…Spielberg! How could he resist; after ET, Close Encounters,
Twilight Zone, The Movie and AI this is right up his alley.

So next year when your favorite craft beer bar has a special Halloween presentation,
you’ll have to remember this article when I gave you advanced notice of a new
annual craft beer tradition…

Glenn DeLuca writes about beer and culture of drinking. He may
be reached by writing thebigG@beernexus.com.

***   ***   ***
Glenn DeLuca
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