[This is a post about beer. Inevitably, it contains a lot of beerhetoric. It does not intend to challenge anyone’s take on alcohol consumption nor does it promote alcoholism. It is a product of an unhealthy urban youth’s genuine fascination about beer.]
“A fine beer may be judged with only one sip, but it’s better to be thoroughly sure.” -Czech proverb.
My fascination about beer can be traced back to my childhood. When my dad used to entertain his buddies, there used to be beer in the house. My brother and I used to have a laugh watching all the uncles make their half-hourly pilgrimage to the loo- each one longer than the one before. That time I didn’t get why all of them kept on drinking this particular aerated beverage knowing fully well that they’ll have to ‘go’ again before grabbing the next one. It seemed so pointless. The whole exercise seemed ridiculous. It was one of life’s greatest mysteries for me. But in time when I started doing such pilgrimages on my own, some how life was simple again.
The truth be told- my dad bought me my first beer. Not a sign of bad parenting but purely awesome parenting. A fact my drinking buddies hate, as they have to go through an entire stack of mints before going back home, while I have to go through only half of it. My first impression of beer was- absolute piss. But like most Coen Bros’ movies, it grew on me. I’ll always remember the first pint that I actually managed to enjoy. A feeling of unfounded joy had washed over me. My jaws had clenched and unclenched with every sip. As the can in my hand started feeling lighter, so did I. It was the best 40 bucks I ever spent.
Most of the times, beer invokes extreme opinions among liquor enthusiasts. You either like beer or you don’t. And you can’t just like beer. You love it. A mild acquaintance with beer is like being half pregnant. It is impossible. Once you develop a taste for it, it has a power over you. It is not addiction. I mean I won’t sell my treasured watch just to get hold of a pint. Its just that every once in a while, the mysterious unsettling feeling that nags you day in and day out can be easily fixed by a chilled glass of refreshing beer. The feeling of guilt or rejection can be washed down just as easily. One can even cleverly say that a beer in hand is worth two in the fridge.
Now as you start drinking it more often, you start learning the finer nuances of the art of beer drinking. You can tell what variety of peanuts goes well with which brand. Which beer when served cold is best with rock n roll. The number of pints it takes to catch up with already drunk lunatics. It is almost an exact science. You can tell so much about a person from the way he drinks beer. If he gulps down the first couple of pints and starts looking for the basin- he’s a greedy rookie. If he doesn’t touch the cold sparkling glass for half an hour- he has recently visited a dentist. And if he steadily keeps the pints coming, we have a true pro. There are so many! I’ll save the others for my stand up routine.
One thing that I have expertly noted is that beer has never been out of fashion. Scotch was and always will be a royal drink. But it has had its share out of the limelight when the Russians brought with them the colourless and allegedly odourless vodka. With the tequilas and bourbons fighting their way up the liquor menu, beer has remained like an interesting looking regular at the end of the bar. This guy (the regular) is always on a first name basis with the bartender. And by one look at him you know that this fella is well travelled and has many a story to tell. This is a drink I can identify with. It is cheap yet rich. It is not pretentious or overtly ostentatious like most cocktails which I believe are lemon juice in different costumes. In its simplicity lies its sophistication.
Beer renders the drinker with a presumed sense of well being, which in some cases leads to a hilarious chain of events. Beer can cure despondence, shyness, overconfidence and even constipation. This brewed social lubricant is responsible for a sizable percentage of promotions, demotions, friendships, marriages and divorces. It can make a Yashraj movie almost bearable. It is known to start conversations wherein people actually talk a lot about nothing. A few pints later, they can be found quarreling over the same nothing. Too much of it however is not advisable. Overindulgence of beer in one sitting, most of the times makes the drinker profess his love for a nearby commode the next morning. I have a string of heartbroken commodes in my wake.
In my experience I feel that Kingfisher is a neighbourhood hero. Corona is a supermodel on the cover of a glossy magazine (complete with a slice of lemon). Khajurao, Godfather, Thunderbolt, Spencer10000, Haywards Black, Ambero, King’s, Canon 10000 and Tennent’s are thugs with a heart of gold. Heineken is an expensive consultant with valuable experience. Carlsberg and Tuborg are the cousins who are raised abroad. Foster’s, Budweiser and Tiger are regulars at the comic bookstore. Tsingtao and Suntory are my friends from China.
You see, I cannot write enough about beer. Beer amazes me to no end. I love beer. I have a waist pouch to prove it. And I don’t mind it. I think of it as a tattoo to remind me of the (too many) good times I’ve had.
Vote for Vijay Mallaya.
[Last weekend I missed an opening of a pub in Pune which has one of India’a first home brewing facility. As blasphemous as it sounds, I did not attend this and missed a great deal of fun and frolic. Bidi loves teasing me about it.]