A few years ago I didn't drink beer. I chose a glass of shiraz. Or a G&T. Or a mojito. Or a cider. Or even a bacardi breezer. Anything, in fact, other than beer. On rare occasions when it was the only option available, it would involve pulling faces throughout the first couple of drinks until I'd drunk enough to no longer care. Or I'd sack it in and have a softie.
As the years rolled on, my palate developed and I started to enjoy beer. This, coupled with spending increasing amounts of time with beer lovers, led to beer becoming my go-to drink of choice.
I enjoy the taste, flavours and smells, the texture and feel, the variety of choice. But the Beer Moment means far more to me than simply settling down to a satisfying pint.
For me, it is respite. Finding time in my day to sit, with like-minded folk, and converse. That opportunity to reflect upon the stresses and strains of day to day life, and find a way of moving forward. It is a focal point for discussion, a common interest, and leads to debate, laughter and passion.
It is a moment where I feel wise. Life is put into perspective and I remember what it is all about. That we don't live to work, rather work to live, something I manage to forget on a very regular basis. Clearly this heightened sense of wisdom has a touch of the old beer goggles about it, but it is true that, perhaps paradoxically, beer brings a sense of clarity to me.
Still though, it is more than the buzz and relaxation from the alcohol, and more than taste and flavours. Beer is accessible, affordable and family friendly, something that can't always be said for wine or spirits. It is steeped in local history and tradition, as well as being a global industry. It is down to earth, and open to all. As a novice, beer provides simple, uncomplicated opportunities to learn. Beers have such an incredible range of options, with very distinguishable characteristics, as well as great subtlety. Wines, to the uninitiated palate are far more difficult to get your head around. Sometimes you get a rubbish beer, my experiences include aroma de la vomit and hints of metallic irony liver. But you drink these, (if you can), discuss, laugh, and move on. A bad wine is less amusing because usually you've bought a whole bottle of the stuff.
Thinking ahead to the future, I hope the Beer Moment does not change for me, and lose it's purity through over analysis and over consumption. Every new beer I taste is surrounded with excitement and mystery. I will seek reassurance when reading other contributors to The Session no.63, that this journey into beer that I am undertaking will enhance my Beer Moment, rather than sully it.