I can say without a doubt that beer has always been a fixture in my life. From the earliest memories to the current day beer has always been around. I grew up in a very male dominated social environment. When I was younger, my mother’s family always seemed to be at the park or someone's house for a party or birthday; any excuse for a gathering to eat and drink. Being Hispanic there was a pretty distinct hierarchy when I was growing up. The women cooked and talked in the kitchen with the younger kids close by; while the men sat outside on the porch next to the Coleman coolers that were loaded with beer.
The older kids were allowed to hang around outside to help watch the little ones that escaped the kitchen and ran amuck outside, staying just out of reach of the men and their beer swilling circle. If you got lucky you were allowed to sit and listen to the men talk telling stories about senseless jabber, all the while hoping they would allow you to get them a beer, so you could crack it open and taste the foam. Beer is a rite of manhood in the Hispanic culture.
There were not many events that beer was not a focal point. I grew up in the 70's, hearing and seeing adds for Schlitz Malt Liquor, Colt 45, Coors, Budweiser, Pabst and many more. I had my first beer when I was 10 at my Tia's (aunt) wedding and it didn't go so well.
When I was 15 I started drinking Budweiser because I could always count on my Teo (uncle) to forget he had an extra six pack in the truck bed. By the time I was in my late teens I had drank most every type of beer I could think of. We weren’t picky and the beer revolution really hadn’t hit just yet. Often beer was stolen from someone's parents’ fridge brought to the bonfire or social gathering in the desert. Eventually single beers became less important and kegs took their place in my education of mass consumption. Domestic consisted of the usual: Bud, Coors, Miller, Schlitz, Mickey's Big Mouth, Lone Star, Blatz, Pabst and so on, Imports at the time where Lowenbrau, Heineken, St. Pauli and Grolsch to name the few available. The Mexican beer around still has never really changed too much even today; Tecate, Superior, Negra Modelo, Dos Equis XX's and of course the ever present Corona.
It was not until I reached my early twenties that beer took on a whole different meaning for me. The craft brew revolution started and microbrewery's started to pop up everywhere. Chefs (my line of work) found creative and inventive ways to spruce up old dishes with these new found beers. It was suddenly ok to be snobbish in your beer selection, having a beer that no one had heard of was the new cool. My ventures in cooking and cruise ships only solidified my relationship with beer, going to a new pub in the Caribbean and ordering an unknown beer and then bringing that back for your chums to taste was god like.
TodayI love beer, in all its forms, from strong to weak, colorful to pale, unique to boring, nutty to fruity. There is always a beer for any occasion and any taste, beer has been and always will be a staple in my life. I drink not for the drunk anymore, but for the taste and the celebration that beer has brought to my life...and ok, the occasional drunk.....