Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Epiphany Beer

The Bible has a story about a man named Saul who was a bit of a prick for most of his life until one day, on the road to Damascus he was struck down by a pillar of light and was violently raped by the word of the Lord. Now if my memory of the Catholic Brothers school system serves me right the main gist of the story was that Saul had been blind all his life and in a moment of pure, divine clarity he understood the truth. There was something in there about goats too I think, I forget, but anyhow, this is not a religious blog, no! This is blog about beer, a religion of a different kind, and I friends, I am here to spread the good news...

The reason I bring this up is that I had a very similar experience a few years ago in the early 2000s (noughties? The o’s? Has anyone figured out what to call that decade yet? I’m settling for The Nilch) I had drunk what my dad had drunk for most my late teenage/young adult life which was usually Cascades/Boags draught and the occasional Heineken. At BBQs I’d bring a 6 pack of Cascade Pale Ale and I went through an awkward stage where I swore by Toohey’s Extra Shi, sorry, Dry. It was a dark time... Then, one day whilst in an Italian Restaurant in Northern Sydney with my family and faced with a beer list full of umlauts and words ending in e, I passed on the usual Peroni and picked a beer which would forever alter my perception of what the word actually meant...

Hoegaarden Forbidden Fruit, I chose this on the basis that the label had a naked chick on the front and the word Hoe in the name (hey, I was 22). The waiter cracked the lid and the rest is a little blurry for me. My Mum says I appeared dazed and confused, like a small puppy high on acid that had been dumped in the middle of a hardcore side-trance rave. My Dad says I spontaneously began to speak in tounges. All I remember is that sublime, almost spicy taste. This magical elixir was as far removed from the Lager I’d taken for beer all my life that it may of well come from an alternate dimension. I still have the bottle which I treat with all the reverence of a religious relic.

This was an example of what is known as the epiphany beer. Similar to the pursuit of Zen Buddhism, it is a single, perfect moment of clarity and understanding which reveals how little you really know. I didn’t transform into an enlightened being overnight, I’d still take six packs of lager to parties for a few years yet, but the point is it was this from this moment that I was open to trying different beers and styles. I’d have other beers over the years that I’d consider epiphany moments, the first time I had Little Creatures P.A , the night with the Innis & Gunn, my mate Stringer’s grandad’s homebrew (I think I saw the devil) all of these moments have lead me to who I am now; someone whom spends a ludicrous portion of his pay on craft and imported beers, people tell me I have a problem, I shoot them a look halfway between pity and contempt sprinkled with a tiny dash of the crazed fanatic and proudly declare that it is a problem I’m happy to have.

So take the time to remember your own pantheon of epiphany beers. They may no longer be your favourites, your tastes and preferences having evolved since, but it is well worth remembering where it all began. Remember, a journey of a thousand beers begins with a single sip.

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